The following is for someone that knows they are angry and knows their behaviour is destructive. Many people don’t know or acknowledge their anger because that, in itself, is too frightening.
The truth is we all carry anger and deal with it different ways.
So here are 8 steps that come from my years of experience in working with anger in people
Step 1. Take responsibility for your anger and angry behaviour and your desire to change it.
You don’t have to know how to change your anger or angry behaviour, you just need to acknowledge that your anger is destructive. Acknowledge that you want to change your behaviour and stop perpetuating something that clearly hurts you and others. Understand that you need help from a skilled therapist.The skilled part is essential here. Your anger won’t just go away. You have a right to ask a therapist about their approach and experience.
Step 2. Find a skilled therapist to help you experience safe ways to explore your anger.
This step is essential as you cannot resolve your anger without a skilled therapist to guide you through a process that allows you to safely bring your anger out. If you work with me I will follow the process outlined below. The therapy must include deep emotional release and expression through your body. Trying to change your thinking will not resolve your anger because it resides deep within the musculature of your body. It has been held there for a long time and will not just evaporate.
Step 3.Accurately identify what your anger is about.
You need to look at how you have been hurt in your life. Go as far back as you can.
You now need to look back in your life with courage, to face the ways in which you were hurt, usually within your family, school, or other situations. Sometimes these events were direct actions towards you, such as abuse, a dominating parent or bullying at school. Sometimes the hurt is from something you needed and didn’t get, such as love, affection or protection. I will be with you every step of the way, supporting you and affirming your right to your feelings.
Step 4. Re-experience the hurts that you have experienced, especially early on in life and allow the hurt and anger that is attached to them to come out of your body.
It is not easy to allow yourself to feel your hurt, but it is essential because the unresolved hurt if the basis of your anger. Re-experiencing the hurt is now done with support and acknowledgement from me, validating your experience and helping you to have your voice and expression which was denied to you earlier in life. Validation of your experience is life affirming. Comfort at the sadness for your hurt allows healing which a didn’t happen at the time.
Step 5. Allow yourself to feel your anger in a way that takes responsibility for the anger.
Now you know ways in which you have been hurt. Allow yourself to feel the anger which is held within you and know that you have a right to feel angry about being hurt in these ways. To deny your feeling is to deny your right to exist. Remember there is no problem with feeling angry, it is just a feeling. While ever you withhold the expression of this anger, it resides within you and decreases your ability to feel, to experience intimacy and to stability.
Step 6. Begin to trust your deep feelings that are buried within you and express them in the relationship you have with your skilled therapist.
A key dimension here is the relationship with your therapist. You need to be affirmed, you need to be seen and heard in relationship. You need to find words which express what you feel. You need to use your body, because this is where your anger is stored. You need to let as much of this energy out, as you can. Each time you get angry in therapy you reduce the anger that is held within.
Step 7. Continue with step 6 to see if you can get to a position of forgiveness with those who have hurt you.
Resolving your anger is a process and one session of anger expression will produce some change but will not be a complete process. Each time you get angry in a session and go through the process, moves your towards your own healing. This is the place where your life changes dramatically, where you stop beating up on yourself or on others. This is the place where you can move forward with mindfulness about your responses to current hurtful situations. These responses relate to the present moment and are not attached to a build up of past hurts.
My experience is that some people have been so badly injured by others that they never get to a place of forgiveness and this has felt fully justified. It was a matter of allowing them to be free of their anger. Others find forgiveness and are free to move on dealing with life’s hurts as they come up with a mindfulness that wasn’t available whilst the spring was wound so tightly.
Step 8. Make your peace where possibly with those you have hurt through the violent expression of your previously unresolved anger.
Part of feeling good about your life again is to make amends for actions you have taken in the past which have hurt other people. As much as you can, it is time to apologize and free yourself from the guilt which occurs when you injure someone else and when you own up to that action. This is a place where some relationships can be restored and the naturalness of joy comes to the surface.