Bruce* is a 45-year-old professional person who suffers from anger management problems. Bruce is married and has two children (a boy and a girl). To the outside world, Bruce is a nice, decent person. He is a good provider for his family. He cares about his wife and his two children. He is hard working and tries to do what he believes to be right. People at his church respect him and his neighbors think highly of him. However, Bruce has a hot temper. He becomes a “terror” when he gets angry and is wife and children are terrified of him. He would get so angry that he looses control. He has said and done things to his family that he feels guilty and ashamed about. He is afraid if things continue the way they are he would one day lose his family and everything he has worked for. Therefore, he sought professional help to understand and to better manage his anger.
Theresa* is 37-year-old, divorced, and the mother of an eleven-year-old girl. She states, “My anger has caused me so much trouble in my life. I used to think that other people are responsible for my anger. I thought if everybody would just act right and treat me well I would not have to be angry. When I got angry with people, I thought they deserved it.” Theresa is known for beating up her partners. When she got angry, she would throw things, smash plates and slam doors. She had holes in her living room and bedroom because she put her fist into the walls when she got angry. She once got so angry and that she threw hot water on her neighbor.
These are two examples of individuals who struggle with anger management problems, otherwise known as Toxic Anger Syndrome. Individuals who suffer from Toxic Anger Syndrome usually feel that anger has taken over their lives. They lose control when they get angry. They say and do things that inflict pain on others and themselves. They have not learned effective coping tools to manage their angry emotions. Anger management problems can lead to relationship problems, work problems, legal problems, health issues, and emotional (shame and guilt) problems, etc.
Anger is a normal human emotion. Everyone experiences angry feelings once in a while. Most people; however, know how to deal with their angry emotions and can use them effectively. Those who know how to manage their angry emotions recognize that anger is a signal that something is wrong, but not the solution to the problem. Expressing oneself in assertive ways is an effective tool to manage emotions. But in order to do that, it is important to know what you need and how best to get your needs met, without hurting others and/or yourself.
(*These are not the actual names of Summit clients, nor are these necessarily examples of Summit clients)
Factors Contributing to Anger Problems
You might be wondering what factors contribute to Toxic Anger Syndrome. Well, it is known that some people have low frustration tolerance. These individuals are ill equipped to deal with frustration. They usually feel it is unacceptable to be inconvenienced by others.
The other factor that might contribute to Toxic Anger Syndrome is genetic. There is now evidence that some children come into the world easily irritable and touchy. This means that they are genetically predisposed to anger management problems, if not provided with effective ways to manage their emotions. A mother once informed me that as far as she could remember her 12-year-old son had always struggled with managing his angry emotions. We also know that some angry people come from angry families.
Moreover, there are some people who are the product of a dysfunctional family background. These individuals are usually emotionally illiterate. They have not learned about their emotional world and how to effectively communicate their feelings and needs to others.
Anger and the Bible
Managing anger is not a new problem. It has always been around, going way back to biblical times. Maybe you remember Cain in Genesis 4:3-16. Cain’s inability to deal with his anger and envy led to murder. He killed his brother Abel.
Also, the writer of Proverbs was aware of anger management problems. He writes,
He who is slow to anger has great understanding, but he who is quick to temper exalts folly.
The Apostle Paul, in his letter to the people of Ephesus, has something to say about anger as well. He notes,
Be angry and yet do not let the sun go down on your anger,
The goal of anger management counseling is not to stop you from feeling angry. The objective is to assist you to develop effective ways to express your angry feelings. Remember that anger is a healthy human emotion. The way we express it makes all the difference.
Help is Available
If you are dealing with Toxic Anger Syndrome, the first step is to admit that you have a problem. If you have tried on your own to solve your anger management problems without success, the staff at The Summit is here to help. We would be happy to provide anger management evaluation and counseling, if necessary.