How To Deal With Deep Feelings of Anger and Explosive Rage
Our guest, Dr. George F. Rhoades , specializes in anger management. We discussed the effects that anger and rage can have on relationships, parenting and work. We talked about different types of anger: deep feelings of anger and resentment, unresolved anger, chronic anger, uncontrollable anger (anger that is out of control), explosive anger and explosive rage. Dr. Rhoades suggested techniques to manage anger, for anger control, and ways to release anger in a aealthy way, along with methods to deal with rage. And finally, we talked about forgiveness and closure (different than "forgive and forget"), as a meaningful way to significantly reduce high levels of anger.
David Roberts:HealthyPlace.com moderator.
The people in blue are audience members.
Beginning of Chat Transcript
David: Good Evening. I'm David Roberts. I'm the moderator for tonight's conference. I want to welcome everyone to HealthyPlace.com. Our topic tonight is "Anger Management." Our guest is psychotherapist and author, George Rhoades, Ph.D.
Do you have anger that is all-consuming? Do you harbor deep feelings of anger or resentment? Does your anger control you and your relationships? Dr. Rhoades is the Director of Ola Hou Clinic in Pearl City, Hawaii. He is also author of the book: "Controlling The Volcano Within: Anger Management Training."
Good evening, Dr. Rhoades and welcome to HealthyPlace.com. We appreciate you being our guest tonight. I'd like to start off by asking you what is the difference, in psychological terms, between normal anger and anger that is out of control, either in terms of the level of anger or how long it lasts?
Dr. Rhoades: We typically look at anger that is chronic, or that adversely affects our lives as being harmful. We also look at when anger becomes a problem, i.e. lasts too long, too intense, too frequent. Anger is also a problem when it affects our relationships with those we love or at work. We ask the question for each of us, how much has anger cost us in the past and are we still willing to pay that cost? Thus anger and when it is a problem will vary for each person, but we also try to point out that anger can be a normal part of all our lives.
David: Is long lasting anger primarily the result of simply an unresolved situation or does it stem from the person having a serious psychological problem?
Dr. Rhoades: Long lasting anger can be from both. Unresolved anger often leads to lack of closure and bitterness. Psychological problems can also manifest in anger, a deep depression may have anger at it's foundation. Anger can be expressed in a psychotic episode, either with schizophrenia and in a manic state (what is bipolar disorder and what is manic episode). It is important though to realize that anger that is not addressed tends to cause us a number of physical, psychological and relational problems.
David: What are some signs that let you know that your anger is out of control?
Dr. Rhoades: One clear sign is when you toss and turn at night, but the person that has angered you sleeps soundly. Anger often manifests itself in the ways expressed above, lasting too long, etc. This tells us that anger is extracting a heavy price in our lives.
I once knew a soldier that held his anger inside and he developed ulcers in his stomach, all the way to his mouth. The soldier could not express his anger, and it was, literally, eating him up alive. Anger is a problem when it's functions in your life are mainly negative, not positive. The negative aspects of anger include it disrupting your thinking, leading to aggression, defending yourself and being seen as an angry man or woman.
David: I'm sure you've heard the phrase: "he's an angry person." That generally means the person is angry all the time. Is that a personality or character flaw?
Dr. Rhoades: Any mother that has had more than one child will testify that each child is different from birth. The children tend to have different personalities from birth, different feeding patterns, different expressions of emotions, including anger. A child that tends to have a more irritable personality may thus be prone to anger and if not guided as a child, may not know how to deal with it in a healthy manner. An angry child becomes an angry teen, becomes an angry adult.
A character flaw would be hard to judge. I believe that we all can be helped with our anger and as such there is hope for each of us with an anger problem. The issue is that we need first to admit that we have an anger problem, as "the first step in breaking a habit is knowing that you have a habit." The issue of untreatable anger is rare, usually due to a medical problem such as a tumor, or medication reactions. The latter can be helped and the other area would need to be addressed medically and then assessed further in anger management and anger assessment. So there is hope, even with seemingly chronic anger.
David: What are some proven techniques to better cope with chronic anger?
Dr. Rhoades: The anger management program that I have developed utilizes ten techniques that have been shown to be effective. These techniques involve the areas of our thinking, our emotions and our behaviors. The cognitive or thinking coping skills include understanding your own anger, through an anger assessment and journaling. It is also important to look at understanding the anger of others, through empathy. The third way to deal cognitively with our anger is to look at our thinking or self-talk. The emotional area requires that we learn how to relax and to use time-out procedures effectively. We also need to learn how to have humor in our lives. The behavioral area requires that we learn how to communicate our feelings, be assertive and to problem-solve. The most powerful technique to control or to manage anger is that of closure, closing doors on the past and/or forgiveness.
David:I want to get to that last one about closure, but first, we have a lot of audience questions, Dr. Rhoades, so let's get started. Here's the first one:
Ticket33: I have a problem with letting things go for too long and then getting to the point that I am so angry that I start crying. What do you suggest for that?
Dr. Rhoades: Here, in Hawaii, it is very common for us to not address issues directly, but this usually comes back to haunt us as you have noted. The issue is that if we hold on to our anger, we suffer as the energy of the anger effects our health and emotions. Anger that is held in often can lead to health problems in the weak or vulnerable areas of our lives. You may wish to journal your feelings rather than hold them in or allowing things to continue. If you are unable to address the issue directly, you may wish to talk it out with a friend or trusted counselor. It would be important to watch how your body reacts to anger situations and when you notice that you are getting angry, try to address the issues sooner.