Getting angry can feel volcanic, like a literal eruption from the depths. Before you know it, the villagers are running and screaming, their homes ablaze, as the hot spewing lava decimates everything without preference or warning.
4 Signs that You May Benefit from Anger Management Counseling
Here is a short list of indicators that will help you know when it’s time for anger management counseling.
People keep telling you that you are angry.
Perhaps one way of knowing you are ready for anger management counseling is that you keep finding yourself in situations where people tell you “you are angry,” or even “you are always angry.” As a counselor and coach, I’m no big fan of sentences that contain the word “always” or “never,” but that’s not the point of the moment. Point is, if people keep telling you you are an angry person, especially those close to you, it might be time to pay attention.
You have a hard time owning your anger.
It’s one thing to get angry all of the time. It’s another to get angry “all the time,” have people tell you, and not be able or willing to admit it. There is something about anger that feels so powerful in the moment. Perhaps that starts to explain why anger is so seductive. It draws you in, and then you’re trapped until the anger is done having its way with you and everyone around you.Anger feels powerful in the moment, and shameful after. Think about the times you have gotten angry. You are right. They are wrong. Simple as that. When the anger dies down, things regain a sense of the complexity they always had, except that now you are no longer angry, so the part of your brain that rationalizes is working a little better, and maybe you can see a little more clearly.
If you’re anything like me, once you see it, you don’t like what you see. Often times you can see for a moment just how angry you are, but seeing something like that within yourself is hard. I certainly don’t like looking within myself and seeing how my anger sprang out, unchecked, hurt my closest friend, and then recoiled back into the holster like a showdown in some western movie. Another kind of recoil happens – I recoil from myself – I look away, at anyone, anything, but what I see inside.
You can’t see your anger, or don’t know it is there.
Related to the previous point, you may have a hard time seeing your anger altogether. Perhaps you see something like anger, but view it as purely a reaction to what the other person is doing. Maybe it is. Maybe you truly are a victim, and your anger makes a lot of sense under the circumstances (e.g. – being the victim of abuse).
I am not addressing righteous anger here. I am talking about uncontrolled anger that erupts like the volcano mentioned above, spewing fire on the innocent villagers below. I’m talking about taking responsibility for the choice of anger.
People with “intense personalities” are often angry people who do not know they are angry. And these angry people often mean well – their intentions are good. But the harm of anger often comes from the impact it has on others. The famous saying “the road to hell is paved with good intentions” is a reflection of the fact that even if our intentions are good, our impacts can often hurt others.Seeing ourselves is hard work. Paul David Tripp once remarked that “self examination is a community project.” Sometimes we just can’t see how angry we are. Sometimes we need someone else to point it out to us, and sometimes it takes a long time to finally start paying attention, let alone coming to the conclusion that something must be done about it.
James 1:20 says “the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God.” Your anger and mine are tainted with sinful motives. It certainly feels righteous, but it is often hard to see it for what it is without deep and qualified help from another person.
Your anger gets out of control.
This could mean a number of things. Are you a yeller? A wall puncher? A thing-breaker? If you are prone to physical escalation, get help immediately. Physical abuse often has its roots not only in deep, unrecognized anger but also in past abuse.
Your past shows up in the present, by default. You may know that for those in Christ, “behold the old has gone and the new has come,” but yet those old wounds or patterns of relating keep coming back, like a ball tossed straight up into the air.
Getting physical isn’t the only indication that anger is out of control, though. Often times I walk clients through an exercise of simply paying more attention to the thoughts taking place in awareness. Try it today. Listen to your mind, the thoughts that play like songs on the radio station of your inner life. Do those thoughts tend to be more critical, judgmental, fault finding? Or are they gracious, thankful, and appreciative of the beauty or goodness surrounding you at this moment?Pay attention and you will most likely find that anger and gratitude are almost always mutually exclusive. I would say the same thing about anger and curiosity, but that’s a topic for another blog post.
Self-control is one of my favorites of “the fruit of the Spirit” of Galatians 5:23-25. I like emphasizing that although there are nine items here “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self control,” that the word in the passage is “fruit,” not “fruits.”
These nine qualities are one, united in the fact that they are “of the Spirit.” Above I noted that “the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God.” That is because God, by his Spirit working within us, produces righteousness. We are always unable to be righteous all on our own.
When I work with couples who can’t seem to talk without devolving into a nasty combination of yelling and/or shutting down, I like to start with where God begins. Psalm 139 is one of my favorites. In the last few lines of this Psalm, David tells God “Search me, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts.
See if there is any offensive way within me, and lead me the everlasting way.” This is humility. Like gratitude and curiosity, humility is poor soil for anger. And that’s what we want. Soil that chokes anger because it can’t find the right soil in which to grow.
There is more to say on this topic, but that is enough for now. If anything you read here resonates with you, if you are the angry person or know someone who is angry, but they don’t see it, it might be an indication that it’s time to seek help. Sometimes we just can’t see something we need to see on our own. If this is you, perhaps one of the trained professionals at Seattle Christian Counseling can help you.
“Eruption”, Courtesy of Marc Szeglat, Unsplash.com, CC0 License; “Not.Happy.Bob.”, Courtesy of FuYong Hua, Unsplash.com, CC0 License; “Reflection”, Courtesy of Vince Fleming, Unsplash.com, CC0 License; “Gratitude”, Courtesy of 30daysreplay (PR & Marketing), Unsplash.com, CC0 License
DISCLAIMER: THIS ARTICLE DOES NOT PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE
The information, including but not limited to, text, graphics, images and other material contained on this article are for informational purposes only. No material on this site is intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please contact one of our counselors for further information.