If a situation gets out of control, managing behaviour is the first port of call and men need to take responsibility for their actions.
A common anger management approach is to teach people how to step back, calm down and examine what is going on.
Whilst behaviour needs boundaries, I believe feelings need acceptance and expression, whether we like it or not!
One of the central themes of high levels of emotional intelligence is the ability to use our feelings as a guide. The feeling of anger can be a marker letting us know something is important to us, and likely a sign that other emotions are lurking beneath.
Anger can be both an internal and external response triggered by overwhelming events. In my work with men in particular such events include:
There are often a myriad of other thoughts and feelings associated (behind and underneath) with anger, which tend to be particularly difficult for men to accept. These include:
It’s usually men’s feelings about these feelings that lead to feelings of frustration or anger. Does that make sense?
Many men label these feelings as weakness and they should be avoided at all costs. Or some guys judge these feelings internally by telling themselves:
Often with an expletive or two thrown in!
Here is a classic example of a man’s internal emotional struggle that appears as anger.
And then there’s his brain!
Brain science has recognised the gender differences with the physiology of anger.
Men, in general terms, typically have a longer physiological recovery period (e.g. adrenalin, heart rate, blood pressure) from an experience of anger than women – 20 minutes for men compared with 5 minutes for women.
This means that it is important to allow at least 20 minutes for calming down (without ruminating) before attempting to talk about whatever has sparked the angry response.
There tend to be three productive ways to deal with anger.
Lowering the intensity of anger is a great step toward making better sense of what else is going on.
Here is a method of creating some calm whilst decreasing the intensity of anger.
This requires practice, often. In calming and slowing down, it’s more realistic that recognising your underlying feelings will occur. Or at least setting limits on how the mood of anger impacts on others.
Acceptance of feelings is not about liking them; it’s about allowing them to be there, without getting too caught up by judging them, yourself or others.
Easier said than done? Yes!
Remember feelings are a guide for making choices about how you behave and make decisions.
These steps form an incredibly powerful part of emotional intelligence.