Do you know someone that is irritable? Maybe it is you that can become grumpy. All of this is okay. Sometimes getting to the root of your anger can quell the flame. As a counselor and working with Clients wanting Anger-management, many times anger tends to be the first layer that is uncovered. Some of you may have heard that Anger is a secondary emotion. What that means is that this feeling is the result of another emotion that is unresolved. An example would be you got denied a promotion but your supervisor never gave you a clear explanation. You continue to go to work and you feel unappreciated, disappointed and do not know if you have a future at this company. You feel you need to be at your best behavior at work because you continue to need to earn money. Your result is that you’re irritable at home or outside of work because the consequences are not as severe, so you think… You continue on with your days, weeks go by, you thought you have moved on but you’re left with this irritability and you do not know why. You’re still disappointed about not getting the promotion but this emotion has been pushed to the back of your mind? Right?
As a counselor issues similar to this have come up with my clients. It turns out their irritability is not about someone annoying you, it is a way your body is letting you know it is time to resolve this feeling. Like the example given in the previous paragraph sometimes it is not probable that you can get resolve from your supervisor or even the company you work for. Yet, your unresolved anger can still be resolved. Many times this is where a counselor can help, especially one trained in Anger-Management. A strategy that helps would be just to look at the facts without judgment. I mean simple facts, for example, using the story I mentioned previously, you applied for the position, you did not get the promotion, you were not given a clear answer, and you are still working. Try to look at this situation from an outward perspective as if you were a neutral party. When doing this exercise it can take some of the charge away from the situation or sometimes all of it. The next step would be accepting that the situation happened and this helps a person realize that you are not powerless and that you still have options. For this particular scenario, the option could be that you have the choice to resign or stay in that position. If you chose to stay in that position you can look for another job, or you could try again, or you could even stay put. Then this where you find support outside of work; this can be with family or friends or even extra support with a Counselor. If you get this far and are still having trouble with resolution again it may be unresolved trauma. Maybe this disappointment reminds you or feels like a disappointment/s from a parent, relative or close friend? This is where we dig deeper so that you can heal and start working on past traumas.
In the future when seeing someone who is irritable or maybe noticing it in yourself, you might discover more compassion with yourself or with others. You may want to become curious instead of shying away and ask yourself is this really Anger?
By Michelle Inauen M.A.,LPC & LMFT Associate