Since anger serves your feeling of power, that’s probably why you have such a hard time controlling it.
With my personal experience with anger and my experience working with many men who are angry, I’ve come to a better understanding of how anger works, and doesn’t.
Anger serves a specific psychological purpose.
It defends who you are by giving you a sense of power. It also masks underlying feelings which are reactions to a threat, be it logical, emotional or physical.
From my experience working with men, anger is hardly ever the first emotion men feel though it seems like an immediate response, usually other emotions came before it.
To better understand it, consider being cut off in traffic. It appears that anger is the first reaction to this but consider how being cut off in traffic affects you.
There’s a sudden sense of danger, however quick, which requires and immediate response to compensate. It’s fear, fear of losing control, being vulnerable and susceptible to injury.
That’s what you experience first.
Moving from fear into anger or rage happens instantly. Its virtually undetectable.
The emotional flow in this example is similar to the majority of our emotions that we skillfully cover or displace using the emotion of anger.
Displacing or covering up those feelings blocks us from dealing with what lies underneath, specifically anxiety. It contradicts the weakness our ego feels.
We use anger to support self-esteem and to protect us from emotional pain.
Most men experiencing anger problems are wrestling with underlying low self-esteem and self-doubt.
Most of these men are very successful in their field but not in close relationships. Close relationships provoke anger.
Regardless how successful these men are, the majority have an “I don’t measure up” or “I’m an impostor” soundtrack playing non-stop in their head.
Anger, at least in the instant, helps soothe the mind and makes the soundtrack less audible when someone turns the volume up.
Anger acts like a mental pain killer. Your brain actually releases a numbing hormone that lessens mental anguish.
In this light, your anger hurts your relationship but also increases your ability to survive emotionally.
Anger numbs our feelings of being disregarded, insignificant, suspected, condemned, unreliable, worthless, rejected, weak or unwelcome.
If anger can relieve all these feelings, then it’s not surprising men can depend on it to the point of addiction.
Anger also gives a sense of energy. If someone makes you feel like a loser or weak, anger restores a feeling of power, worth and invincibility.
It makes sense to search for and use what works to comfort and validate ourselves when experiencing an attack on our self-esteem.
If we are mentally healthy, we can access solutions or coping skills to support ourselves. We can see ourselves as we are and not be overwhelmed.
When this isn’t possible, we invalidate others to validate ourselves.
Anger neutralizes, minimizes and bulldozes the adversary and physically energizes us.
I often hear anger makes up for what a man lacks in relationship ability.
Another insight into anger is how it’s used to manage levels of closeness and intimacy in a relationship.
Sometimes a man describes a parent (or parents) as indifferent, undependable or irresponsible. As a man, he recognizes how he uses emotional distance to protect himself from experiencing those all over again.
They want to connect fully and securely but are cautious of placing themselves in that vulnerable place.
Men with such a background are reluctant to put themselves in that place because they don’t want to put themselves at risk of being hurt again.
Often, men are sensitive to reminders of past hurtful experiences and are easily triggered in their current relationship.
Men also describe times when their relationship is going well but then start to feel uncomfortable with the closeness.
Some men pick fights to get distance and feel safer. They use anger as protection to push their partner away.
For these men, getting real close is real uncomfortable.
Ironically, being too distant is also real uncomfortable and the angry man starts to close the distance in the relationship.
Anger also serves to distance a man from his partner but is also used to engage the partner from a comfortable distance.
Anger is a relationship regulator. It’s a regulator used to manage a man’s sense of danger. Anger is useful in maintaining a “secure” distance between you and your partner. It keeps you from completely disconnecting and intense connection.
This is often the best solution a man can find for his relationship.
This “solution” is not optimal and provides little gratification.
So….how can you manage your anger?
What’s your anger allowing and supporting?
What’s it guarding?
What’s it suggesting?
How can I help?
My approach to this dilemma is based on reprocessing memories and triggers related to your anger. It uncovers what’s below your anger and removes the attached pain so you can live a satisfying, more fulfilling life.
I can help you stop feeling deprived, exploited and unfulfilled. Stop sacrificing your own needs and desires.
Let’s get to work on this!
3800 North Lamar Blvd., Suite 200
Austin, TX 78656