Anger and New Beginnings

Christmas is a fading memory and the New Year fizz went pop weeks ago. Now what?

Are we everything we want to be? Are we sticking to our New Year’s resolutions and ultimately, are we happy?

2014 is a new opportunity to learn more about ourselves. A new opportunity to learn what makes us tick and how we think, because how we think about ourselves has consequences for everyone around us.

As the title alludes, anger is an emotion we are all familiar with. But why are we angry? That’s the question we could be asking. Why is it that on some days the kids can come home and dump their coats and bags on the floor and you pick them up with patience and a smile, while other days when their coats and bags are dumped on the floor, an almighty roar escapes you and you see red. Is it simply the fact they dropped their stuff unceremoniously, or is it something else?

Somewhere inside of us we know that it’s usually something else!

From attending a course with the British Association of Anger Management (BAAM), I got to understand why I get angry. Recognising this one simple aspect of what makes me tick, has opened up a whole treasure trove of understanding.

I’m angry because I had a shameful childhood, which I kept suppressed from loved ones, friends and ultimately myself. I dealt with it then by believing in the fantasy of my own making, for example:

“My mum was committed to a mental institution because she was a genius, born before her time!”

I also got to understand that I wasn’t alone. Other people on the course spoke of over-bearing parents who never gave encouragement. Some spoke of being degraded and made to feel inferior, while others spoke of cruel neglect and outright abuse.

The point I’m making is that many of us  have had childhoods which has left us feeling ashamed or ‘less than’ or ‘not good enough’. The problem is, we don’t recognize it! It sits somewhere in the back of our unconscious and only raises it’s voice at seemingly inexplicable times! This explains why some days we can pick up after our kids with a smile, while on others we snap and holler. It isn’t that they drop their stuff, it’s because when we see them dump their stuff, it triggers a shaming voice inside of us – ‘i’m not being respected’, ‘they don’t care’ i.e. ‘I’m not worthy’ of their attention. Should we wake up feeling a little more sensitive than most days, we’ll over-react to a situation and this could easily lead to anger.

Of-course this is just skimming over the surface and a BAAM anger management weekend course will go into much more detail than can ever be written here.

For me personally, I’ve been able to understand my anger in ways I never thought possible. I’m OK in talking about my childhood, in which my mother had a nervous breakdown when I was 6 years old. One in four people suffer from mental illnesses, so it isn’t rare that children would be affected too. I now, don’t feel the need to dramatise my mother’s reality or feel ashamed by it either. I can just accept it, and feel great empathy for her suffering and not actually make it about me. I now realise that as a child it’s very difficult to separate or dis-identify and that it takes me, only now as an adult, to understand this phenomena and lay the ghosts to rest.

Since attending the BAAM weekend workshop, I’ve come to see my anger in a new light and appreciate it for what it is- namely a highly charged emotion, of which I am now in charge. When I feel the red mist building, I blow it away by thinking of the bigger picture. Does it matter in five minutes whether the kids clean up their stuff from the kitchen floor? Does it matter that the kitchen bin hasn’t been taken out yet? Does it matter that my partner has forgotten to do that important something, I asked her to do. Sometimes it does matter but more often than not, it doesn’t. Keeping a check on ‘what I make it mean to me’ helps me manage my relationships better.

Stop, think, take a look at the BIG picture

It was interesting to see how we each took away our own bits from the weekend that resonated with us. Some took away the lesson of Shadow Self, about reacting to aspects of others, which we suppress in ourselves. Others took away the lesson of how to replenish our own needs, without relying on others to replenish our needs. Others took away the lesson of the Flow Process, the Detour Method or the Clearing process. It reminded me how different we all are in our own stages of emotional experience and also just how huge the subject of anger is!

What was certain however, is that whilst we were there to learn how to control our anger, what we all took away, was the knowledge that we’d learnt far more about ourselves than we could ever have imagined when we first sat in a group and shared how we felt.

Is it time you went on an Anger Management course?

Mike Fisher and BAAM offer weekend workshops through-out the UK, all through the year. If you have an anger problem, like millions of others, and find it’s having a detrimental effect on the people around you, you owe it to yourself and your loved ones to do something about it.

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