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What Is Anger?

April 26, 2013

(This is the first of three posts on anger connected to three videos I produced–1. What Is Anger, 2. Is Anger Helpful, and 3. How to Overcome Anger).

When dealing with emotion in therapy, I often ask clients what each emotion is.  In dealing with anger, I would ask, “What is anger?”  Or to clarify, I might ask, “What is the purpose of anger?”  The amazing thing is that most people cannot answer this question.  I am amazed when someone comes up with the answer.

To help clients begin to look at anger, I ask them to create a list of behaviors that may accompany anger.  Some of these might be to yell, hit, call names, the silent treatment, swear, and a few more.  Then I challenge them to find a pattern in these behaviors.  One example that may make the pattern more obvious is when we get angry with our children.  If I get annoyed (angry–see the Levels of Emotion and Situational Emotions post) by noisy children and I yell at them to stop, what am I trying to accomplish?  I want them to do what I want!  I want them to quiet down.  This is the same with yelling at our spouse, and the silent treatment.  We don’t want to get back at the person, we want them to do something.  Another word I use for wanting someone to do what we want is control.  Anger is about control.

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From → Emotion

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