Excerpt From The Fix Your Anger Handbook

Fact And Fiction: The Truth About Anger
Anger is a cancer that infiltrates every part of your life. The faster you understand the facts about this nagging nemesis, the faster you can feel good about yourself and your world.

By Faust Ruggiero, M.S.

Brutal Honesty, I Over E, Present/Understand/Fix, Slowing Down Life’s Pace, Internal Focus, Fact-Finding

Nothing can help you formulate a plan to move past your anger better than acquiring the facts about this potentially life-wrecking way of thinking and behaving. Anger is so commonly perceived as an emotional response to a person or situation that we find displeasing, threatening, or challenging in some way. Angry responses such as arguing, threatening, and physical outbursts are the way anger is often expressed, but they do not define anger.

As mentioned in Chapter 1, it is important to consider the physical, intellectual, and emotional ways anger develops and is finally expressed. However, it is important to first remove some of the misconceptions attached to anger. This will help you establish an understanding of anger based on the facts. It is essential to develop a foundational framework to build upon before we proceed to the more involved parts of the program.

Anger: Facts and Fiction

Fiction: Anger is a mental health problem.

Fact: Occasionally feeling angry is not a mental health problem. Even the healthiest people experience periods of anger. It may have its etiology in a physical problem, it could be a habitual way of thinking and behaving, or it may be a quick-tempered emotional response. While it is accurate to say that controlling anger will benefit one’s mental health, anger, in and of itself, is not a mental health condition.

Fiction: An angry person will always be an angry person.

Fact: The human mind possesses the ability to change the way it operates and it has the capacity to learn. Also, any physical problems that may either instigate or exacerbate anger can be addressed. Anger does not have to be a dominant condition in one’s life with no way out.

Fiction: Anger is the same as aggression.

Fact: One does not have to be aggressive when one feels angry. As stated in Chapter 1, you do not need to fight in anger-provoking situations. A person often has the option of removing themselves from a perceived threat. Aggression is one of the potential responses to anger, but it is not the only one that is available.

Fiction: Anger management doesn’t work.

Fact: Anger-management techniques have been highly successful in helping people identify what type of anger they have and where it is coming from. It also provides people with coping mechanisms to help them deal with their anger and therapeutic methods to help them change the way they respond to anger-provoking situations.

Fiction: Anger is not always abusive.

Fact: The truth of the matter is that anger is always abusive in one way or another unless it engages to assist another person such as protecting a child from an abuser. It doesn’t matter whether it is verbal or physical abuse. It doesn’t matter whether it is directed toward another individual or to oneself. Anger causes pain regardless of how it is expressed, even if it lasts for only a few moments.

Fiction: Anger is easy to spot.

Fact: Not all anger has the definable parameters we see in overt expressions of physical and verbal attacks. Sometimes anger is subtle and passive, and sometimes it is sneaky, an outgrowth of a strategic agenda. This is discussed in greater detail as we proceed.

Fiction: Anger is all in your head.

Fact: As you learned in Chapter 1, anger is not purely an intellectual enterprise. It is typically the combination of what your body is feeling, what your mind is thinking, and what you are experiencing emotionally.

Fiction: Venting your anger releases it.

Fact: For some people, venting anger can help them minimize the effects of the physical, emotional, and intellectual symptoms but usually only for a short period. Venting is a short-term fix that can provide some immediate relief, but it also carries with it the potential for additional anger and, at times, collateral damage, especially when one is venting to another person. There is venting, but there can also be a response to the venting.

Fiction: Anger is purely an emotion.

Fact: Anger is not purely an emotion. This is one of the misconceptions, and it has led to incomplete methods of treating it. Anger is often classified as an emotion because there is so much emotional expression when it occurs. There is more to it as we saw in Chapter 1. It is more difficult to control one’s anger if you focus only on one attribute. Anger is experienced on the emotional level, but also the intellectual and physical levels.

Fiction: Anger automatically leads to aggression.

Fact: As you will see in Part Two, some types of anger are not expressed by using aggression. As the human mind begins to understand aggression, its intellectual capacity regarding the dynamics of anger is increased and it learns how to use it. Like anything else in our lives, our brain does what can to understand what is happening to us and how we can use some of its components to our advantage. This is referred to as habit formation and is discussed in detail in the first three books in this series.

Fiction: Ignoring your anger will always make it go away.

Fact: This is seldom the case. You may push something aside or compartmentalize it intellectually, which may fool you into believing that the matter has been resolved. In incidences of mild anger, ignoring it has merit. However, ignoring anything that has enough power to affect us physically, emotionally, and intellectually magnifies the potential for increased severity and responses that can be damaging to oneself and others.

Fiction: Men are angrier than women.

Fact: The truth of the matter is that men tend to express anger differently than women. Both men and women experience anger, and it can have a profound effect on their lives. Testosterone can provoke angry episodes, and men tend to be more demonstrative with their anger, but that does not mean that women don’t get angry as often as their male counterparts. An important note is related to the hormonal differences between men and women. Since testosterone can be a catalyst for overt anger, men tend to respond angrier and faster. Women tend to have a slower boiling point since progesterone and estrogen don’t have the same anger-provoking properties as testosterone. However, women experience hormonal imbalances more often than men. This can lead to periods of intolerance, increased stress, and angry responses and behaviors.

Fiction: Suppressing anger is better than expressing it.

Fact: Anytime we are thinking or feeling something that is causing us discomfort, it is a good idea to do what is necessary to put the event in a coherent perspective and, if possible, do something about it. Suppressing anger keeps it internal, often with little or no way to resolve the problem. One does not need to vent angrily, but it does make sense to communicate what you are thinking and feeling, either to the person who is causing the problem for you or with someone who can help you organize your thoughts and develop a plan to address what has occurred.

Fiction: Anger is inherited.

Fact: Some evidence suggests anger can be linked to our genetic makeup. Human beings are the product of their parents’ genetic codes and can be predisposed to develop certain health concerns, as well as intellectual and emotional processing similarities. However, there is also the interaction between our genetic programming and our environment. Evidence also suggests that children brought up in angry households learn angry tactics, further complicating genetic programming. So, some of anger’s environmental programming may be imprinted at birth, but your brain is a learning machine, and nothing about anger is unchangeable.

Fiction: Anger cannot be controlled.

Fact: A person can certainly learn to control their anger. It is a process of defining the anger, where it is coming from, and understanding what to do with it. Understanding how anger is affecting you personally sets the stage for the development of a plan to reduce its impact on your life.

Fiction: People, places, and things make you angry.

Fact: People and events can cause you to become angry. The real way to express this is that you are responding with anger to people, places, and things. No one has so much power over you that they can make you feel angry. Other people do not control what you think or do. You may not like what you were experiencing, but you do have options regarding what you do about it. This will become more apparent as you proceed through this book.

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