I often have clients who find themselves getting angry and frustrated at work, or find that they are calm at work but lose it at the slightest thing when they get home.
Reacting with anger is one of our brains responses to dealing with stress in our life. The other types of responses our brain can have is depressive or anxious behaviour.
Often people that exhibit depressive or anxious behaviour are met with concern and encouraged to find help. Anger is often viewed less favourably.
We will all probably have heard of the ‘fight/flight/freeze’ response, this is an automated response that occurs when we feel under threat. Anger is the manifestation of the ‘fight’ part of that response. We are all individuals, we all respond differently to a threat. The threat doesn’t have to be a physical threat, it can be an argument, guilt at making a mistake, feeling left out, or feeling overwhelmed – the part of our brain responsible for keeping us safe from threats can’t tell the difference between a physical threat and an emotional threat!
So when I have a client tell me they are easily annoyed, I treat them no differently than I would if they came with anxiety or depression. Their brain feels they are under threat, I can explain to them how that works and what they can do about it. We don’t need to explore why they are angry, instead we explore what their life would be like without anger, without anxiety. Have them paint an imaginary picture of how they would like their life to be, give their brain something to aim for. It’s much more effective to aim for a target then to simply put up a series of no entry signs!