Can anger issues be cured?
People who are experiencing the damaging effects anger can have on relationships and work performance often want to know if these anger issues can be cured. In this article we explore that question and talk through various different anger management solutions.
The first and most important distinction to make is that anger in itself is not good or bad, it is simply an emotion. All too often people label anger as being negative or to be gotten rid of, but this does not take into account the bigger picture.
If we look back through our evolutionary roots, anger has played an important part in helping us to get where we are today. Scientists believe that anger has been hardwired into the brain over millions of years of evolution – so it isn’t going away any time soon.
Anger plays a fundamental role in the stress response, also known as the ‘fight or flight’ response. As our distant ancestors were hunting and gathering in the desert, they would encounter certain predators and threats to their survival. In some of these cases, like when faced up against a hungry tiger, the flight response would enable them to get out of the situation and flee the scene without getting hurt. But in other times and places where flight wasn’t possible, our ancestors would need to access strong and powerful emotions of anger to defend themselves and protect those around them. In this sense anger was vital to our survival.
Many thousands of years may have passed, but those early connections to anger are still hardwired into our system.
The next thing to consider when it comes to anger is the role it plays in changing society. In more recent times – the last couple of thousand years – anger has been used again and again through violence to cause change. Whether it has been with the Roman army or at the battle of Hastings, anger has been instrumental time and time again to shape society and to change power at the highest levels.
Anger has therefore been incredibly useful to humans when they wanted to impose their view on the world and to achieve high status. Mammals are hardwired to seek out and follow a social ‘food chain’ which puts some of the tribe in power and some at the bottom of the ladder. In this sense, anger has been crucial for developing these hierarchical structures and putting people in positions of power.
As this has been so useful for the survival and thriving of our species, anger remains a key emotion to be able to utilise.
In addition to seeking positions of power, anger has also been very important in gathering and protecting resources such as food and shelter. Humans have long been battling for various resources which continues to this day, and anger is one of the many tools used to achieve that target.
One of the biggest challenges when it comes to anger is that it is no longer appropriate to demonstrate anger in this way. Those primal instincts cause huge damage in personal relationships, the destroy connections and create stress and uncertainty, where other forms of communication would work in a more effective way.
We can see from this very brief picture of anger through the ages that it can be a very useful emotion. For this reason anger is a perfectly normal feeling and one that everyone will experience. But when the anger becomes uncontrolled, this is when anger issues arise.
Uncontrolled anger, commonly called rage, has negative effects on health and wellbeing, as well as having social consequences such as if the behaviour is deemed to be illegal in some way. Which can lead to police intervention.
It’s important here that we highlight anger is not a dis-ease, and so to answer our original question, anger does not need a ‘cure’. Anger issues however, can be resolved, which equates to the same thing.
As everyone is unique, there is no right or wrong way to ‘cure’ anger issues.
Some people find a counselling approach works most effectively, where they can talk about their thoughts and feelings in depth. The benefits are they can talk to someone external to the situation, and can process those emotions in a healthy productive way.
Anger management classes can also be very beneficial. This often involves a group element where participants can share experiences and ideas and get assistance in verbalising their feelings and communicating in a more effective way. This has the benefit of a supportive community which can help during challenging times, but is less personal and private than 1-2-1 work.
A third approach is a coaching and therapeutic hybrid. This is a specific anger management programme delivered over a period of time which provides tools, strategies and tactics to control anger and some therapy to resolve the root cause of the feelings. If you would be interested in learning more about this approach, you can visit here.
In conclusion, anger in of itself if not negative or bad, but it can have serious consequences when it becomes uncontrolled or turns into rage. The positive news is that if and when this does occur, as it has for thousands of people all over the country, there are a range of treatment approaches which can successful ‘cure’ the problem of anger issues.