Learning how to manage anger – getting started

I used to get road rage when driving. I used to get angry at work and get into shouting mode in meetings. I used to get angry a lot.

Looking back, so much of my behaviour was unacceptable. At the time though it felt like justifiable revenge for an imagined offence against me – the type of revenge that deliberately hurts someone. My anger seemed natural and reasonable.

Now when I stop to look back at a past incident, be it road rage or meeting rage, I regret what I did.

My motivation to change

Recently, I had an upcoming meeting at work with people from an organisation important to my firm. This was a meeting that had to go well, so I decided to get help in order that I could be calm enough to get my point across without shouting. I contacted Mark at Conversations With Impact after reading his blog on Anger. After only two sessions Mark gave me new skills to manage my anger.

One skill was the narrative, or story, as I call it that uses the imagination. The narrative is my imagined role play of a future situation and the thinking and behaviour that surrounds it.

For the meeting, I used this technique to rehearse in my imagination being a reasonable, well-balanced person. Although this was foreign to me, I was able to adopt my rehearsed stance in my meeting, and as a result it did not become confrontational. Mark explained to me that using our imaginations in this way can actually change our brains. Since the successful meeting I have used this method in other areas of my life. Life has become about new narratives and stories.

Improving Relationships

Mark has helped me get on better with others, too. I have always had difficulty in relating to people. In the past I wrote most people off as being not-my-sort. Therapy helped me to see that I was self-centred in many ways.

But now, I have started to do more to develop my relationships. Simple gestures, which never occurred to me before, such as a phone call, or arranging to meet up, or even just a text or an email. This is adding colour to my life, rather than being a black and white version. Instead of being closed, I’m becoming aware that I can open up a bit.

This transformation in how I see myself and how I relate to other people has allowed me to notice that others struggle, too. I now know others can be in difficulty and are living in a negative story of their own.

I now pick up on those who constantly talk themselves down, and have recently spoken to people from my social circle with gambling and alcohol addiction. They are living in their own story, but in sharing mine with them I have found they are receptive to the idea of developing a more hopeful one for themselves.

My wife and friends all say I am nicer to be around.

A Life Without Anger

Without this sort of inner conflict, how would we have Macbeth and other dramas? What would our soaps be? But in real life I know that there’s a lot of pain. The difference now is that I am doing something about it.

What I like about Mark’s approach to therapy, are the insights, the clues and foundations for good mental health. These I am starting to use. It’s early days for me, but I have hope where previously this was missing from my life.

Mark showed me how to generate solutions rather than to reinforce my difficulties through getting angry. It’s been important to know how to use my resources, especially my imagination and storytelling ability. The knowledge gained means I am creating new narratives and stories for myself. It means I am starting to like myself and others.

This is work-in-progress, but it is exciting.

Getting support for managing anger

We hope you are inspired by Tom’s story. However, every person is different with a different set of experiences. At Conversations With Impact, using a variety of techniques tailored specifically to an individual’s problems, we help our clients to overcome issues, such as anger management. If you are concerned about your anger, then please get in touch