Heal thyself: I will overcome my struggle with anger

There is a lot to be gained in understanding something. I know this, but as a treatment provider, I tend to teach the same things over and over again and I wonder if the message gets muted in its repeated delivery. You see, I have said that the best way to overcome something is to name the problem, reflect on its meaning in a person’s own terms, and then act on the meaning gained. But, the more I teach this message, the less I seem to get it across. So, I’m going to try something different.

In creative writing courses and workshops, I’ve always heard the maxim, “show, don’t tell.” In keeping with that tradition, I’m going to show what I mean using my own experiences: I’ve decided to work through a treatment manual for Anger Management. What prompted this decision was that I couldn’t even concentrate from being pissed off at some news I recently received. When I calmed down, I couldn’t help be see how pointless my anger was; I didn’t gain a damn thing from being mad. As I reflected on why I was so angry, I realized that anger has been always seemed to be a problem for me.

What’s more, a group I belong to did a workshop on anger management recently and sent the materials. I’m not much for coincidences, so I deduced that maybe it’s time for me to figure out my anger issues and see if I can’t come to a point of understanding such that I can better control my responses to situations that just piss me off. I opened the materials and began reading.

Right away, I learned three things: 1) anger is an emotion; 2) aggression is behavior deriving from anger that is intended to hurt; and, 3) hostility is an attitude that involved disliking others and perceiving them in a negative way that appear to drive anger. What do these definitions mean to me? Well, to answer that, the workbook asks the question, “Before you learned these definitions, did you ever confuse anger with aggression? Please explain how.” So, I think I did confuse them, but the real waker-upper for me was the idea of hostility. I think that not only did I confuse anger and aggression, I wasn’t even aware of how my attitudes towards certain situations and people could be at the root of any anger I feel when in/around those situations and people. In realizing the differences between the three, I already have a framework from which I can better understand my own issues with anger.

As I continue with the manual, I’m certain I’ll learn, but in keeping with my own teachings, the first step is in naming the problem/domain, and I think I’m well on my towards completing that phase. I have a long way to go in finding the meaning behind my problems with anger, but already, I sense that I can gain a foothold and respond to my anger better than I do now.  We all have ways in which we need to improve, and right now, this is one way that I really feel compelled to improve.

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