Whether it is a burning feeling in your chest or the ice cold chill of resentment, we’ve all experienced anger. In fact, many of us live in it. We are bathed in the constant hum of frustration, disappointment, and contempt. It’s an old friend and for some, a source of our inner power and motivation.
Many men deal with anger on a daily basis and may even feel overwhelmed by anger because we often lump all of our negative feelings into being “pissed off.” If you want to regain control of your emotions, anger management therapy will give you the tools and support you need to address the issue and live life on your terms.
In our work with men we often see two different types of anger – explosive rage and seething resentment. In other words, hot and cold anger. Depending on our childhood, upbringing, and exposure to media we are prone to one of the two patterns. While they can look different from the outside, inside the experience is similar – there is a constant tape playing in our heads. Men can get lost in aggression, spending hours, day, if not years raging against the world. We can anchor our lives around what we despise. And soon enough, our whole personality can morph into one of judgment and hatred.
Explosive Anger is the most stereotypical form of anger in men. Think abusive fathers, destructive teenagers, and mean bosses. This anger comes out of nowhere and lashes out with fiery fury. While the media makes it look like men live in this rageful state, I see the complete opposite. I’ve found that the most explosive men are “Nice Guys.” 95% of the time they are mild mannered, calm, rational, and happy to help. They are people pleasers. They contort their personality to whoever they are talking to – cutting off parts of themselves in order to be accepted. However, once they’ve had a few drinks or get run down from a long work week the facade melts away. All that built up rage, pain, and loneliness comes back with a vengeance and causes havoc in our lives.
Cold Anger or resentment is another common expression in men. This expression often doesn’t have explosive outbursts, instead is a constant feeling of seething resentment. It’s an icy wall that creates a cold, hard, line between you and the world. It’s a shell that’s reinforced with hatred and built on pain. Guys usually describe this feeling as “trust issues” and talk about how they can’t let others in or how they’ve closed off their hearts. Cold Anger can also manifest as a veil of judgment put over the world – it can be a deep disgust for your community, country, or living environment. In relationships resentment shows up as a ceaseless litany of sins, a tally of every way your partner has wronged you. Underneath the resentment is pain, the constant pushing away is a protective mechanism that keeps us safe at the cost of connection.
The residue of hot and cold anger is judgment, stress, and ultimately loneliness. It separates us from our communities and generates unnecessary conflicts. Without a skillful hand our anger can bleed out of us and explode onto our loved ones. It can create a crisis in our life and result in losing a job, destroying a friendship, or being unable to move forward in our lives. So often our anger is built up and then misdirected at the people closest to us.
Anger management therapy can help you develop the skills necessary to process your emotions, manage stress, and develop effective communication to express yourself without aggression. It can also provide you with strategies to identify and address potential triggers, helping you become aware of how your behavior is impacted by your emotions. An anger management program with MTO can give you the resources and understanding you need to take control of your anger and manage it in healthy, productive ways.
We’ve all been hurt. Whether by our parents, an ex-lover, or a boss; someone has let us down and broken our hearts. This is relationship trauma – that feeling of your entire world falling apart. When we get hurt, we harden. We deploy countermeasures to make sure that no one can get that close to us again. Anger acts as a defensive network that pushes people away and destroys our relationships before they get the chance to hurt us, again.
When we feel disconnected we want to find fault. We want to blame the world. In the moment this can feel empowering, but it pollutes the system. For every soothing dose of superiority we get a handful of hatred. In order to pump ourselves up we need to put others down. Furthermore, this stance can make us feel like a victim. It strips away our power and leaves us feeling helpless. Loneliness breeds Cold Anger, it forces us to double-down on negative perspectives and judge others around us for not being good enough. If left unchecked it can consume us and poison our mindsets. Before too long it can become who we are.
Look, no one said it was going to be easy. Life isn’t fair and we are often called to push ourselves beyond our limits and step out of our comfort zone. In this case, anger can actually be quite helpful. Deciding that “enough is enough” is a great motivator to become a better person and dig yourself out of that rut. When channeled effectively, anger can help us to overcome fear and expand our boundaries and capabilities. However, this fuel source comes with pollution. Using anger to overcome fear can separate us from other people and create a sense of grandiosity – we can overcompensate and overcorrect. Learning how to wield the sword of anger will help propel you towards your goals, let’s just make sure you don’t leave too much wreckage in your wake.
This is the big one. Anger can explode in violence – physical, emotional, and sexual. When we are filled with anger it can hijack our brain and take the wheel. Especially when coupled with drugs and alcohol, anger can cause us to do and say things that we don’t mean. Left unchecked, it can ruin our life in an instant and leave us alone to pick through the debris.
By using anger to suppress our real feelings we cut off parts of ourselves from our partners. We bury the lead that would have allowed our loved ones to get to know us better. By putting up a tough front or just being “pissed off” we build a wall that blocks out connection. Overtime, repeatedly pushing others away leaves us feeling lonely, which just adds to the pain, which adds to the anger. It’s a death spiral that so many of us find ourselves in.
How many of us turn to the bottle or light up a joint to “take the edge off.” The hard truth is that drugs and alcohol work to help us cope with anger – until they don’t. Since men aren’t encouraged to face and talk about their anger we find ways to numb it out. And, while it works at the moment, it weakens us overall. By relying on a substance to change our mood we slowly lose the ability to do it sober. We become dependent and eventually addicted to the relief that the substance brings. At that moment, the anger wins and we are victims to it rather than masters of it.
For some of us the largest target for our anger is ourselves. We are wracked with self-criticism, regret, and shame. Holding on to this form of anger can leave us feeling like we don’t belong or, at its worst, don’t deserve to be alive. Constantly barraging ourselves with anger distorts our reality, we can start to take minor comments as personal affronts and feel as though we are just moments away from being “found out.” This constant fear can lead us to double down on failing strategies like people pleasing, judging, and building resentment.
For many men, anger is their biggest demon. They are haunted by memories of when their temper got the best of them and they let the killer inside off the chain. The only way to truly master your anger is to confront it. Face it boldly and dive into the hurt and pain underneath it. Working on anger management means fearlessly sticking your head into the mouth of that demon and staring down its throat.
Therapy helps. It’s a way to consistently confront the anger with a licensed professional that can handle the intensity. Working with another man who has walked this path is a surefire way to master the power behind the anger. In therapy you’ll be guided to dig deep into old memories, past traumas, and defrost those closed off areas of your heart. By cracking yourself open in a safe environment your emotional system will learn to trust again. We will help you to get to the root of your anger and see it as a powerful ally instead of an oppressive force.
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