Most of my clients are angry! And most are men. Not surprising, since I’ve been helping men understand and honor their anger for more than 30 years.
What do I mean by “honoring” anger? Let’s start with acknowledging that anger is just a feeling. Anger lines up with all the other feelings experienced by humans: sadness, joy, fear, love, grief, excitement, worry and many others. We are alive, we are human, and so — we have feelings. That’s a good thing.
Our job is to pay attention to those feelings and pay attention to any discomfort they create. Even the so-called positive feelings can create some discomfort. “I really love this person. So how can I best show that love?” And that commonly-considered negative feeling: “I got ripped off by my boss. I’m angry. How do I say that without getting fired?”
In both cases, your best strategy is to identify the feeling and remind yourself that this is just information, your body’s response to your world. You can then focus on effectively communicating your feeling to others, in order to get your needs met and so that you can feel more in control of your life.
Following are some basic tips on how to recognize, honor, and effectively communicate those angry feelings:
Recognize: Do a body scan. Notice if your body feels tense, your vision goes inward and toward that feeling, your focus is mostly on the anger — little room for paying attention to a conversation or task.
Honor: Greet that angry feeling and imagine that it’s just a message to keep you informed. Maybe like a text that doesn’t require an immediate response!
Self-talk does help. Take one long breath, open your hands, look outward, and offer yourself some positive messages. Impulsive responses haven’t worked before. So if no one is bleeding, having a heart attack, needing emergency help, and you’re not in danger, tell yourself that this can probably wait. Hold off until you can communicate your response in a more effective manner.
Effectively communicate: Prepare in advance with a standard style of response to comments that anger you. When your feelings are high, it’s more difficult to invent a reply on the spot. While this won’t get you through all problematic situations, it might buy you some time until you can figure out another way to resolve the issue.
If you’ve given these strategies a try, if you’ve tried to just power on through (’cause that’s what men are often taught to do), if others are still concerned about your anger, you might want to consider getting a bit more help.
Take a look at this page to see some of my other thoughts about therapy with men. If you have some questions, would like more information about how I might be able to help or if you just have some feedback for me, please give me a call (310-475-1759) and let’s chat about your concerns.