Anger Management: should I hold anger emmotions In or express them?

The first is that there are no negative emotions including anger.

AngerAll emotions are valid in that they reflect how we are interpreting the situation in which we find ourselves.  Our interpretations are valid FOR US although they may not accurately reflect what is happening in our environment.  Some emotions are labelled as negative in the literature because they “hurt” when we experience them or because people do things “under the influence of an emotion” that they later regret. I know of a person who has no feelings in her legs.  She did not know that she was bleeding from a wound she had sustained.  No pain-no feelings-no awareness. Our feelings alert us to what is happening.  We do not want to eliminate any of them.

Secondly, the question implies that there are only two options: express your feelings or bottle them up.  These are not the only options.

I developed the Emotions As Tools Model to give people a third option.

Simply stated… as I noted above, all emotions alert us to how we perceive our situation.  This is the message of the emotion. Our thoughts create our emotions. When you understand the message of the emotion, you are empowered to evaluate your thought/perception of your situation and to choose your response.

The message of anger is that there is threat (to my person, my self-image, my goals, my values, etc) that I can eliminate if I throw enough power at it. The arguments, physical fights, spousal abuse, or the 5 foot 3 inch mom who lifts a car off of her trapped kid are manifestations of this “power”. You can learn to: 1) correctly evaluate the threat, 2) match the power to the situation, 3) consider the consequences of any action you take, and 4) choose a response.

The third option is to evaluate the situation and choose whether you want to act on the emotion (express it in proportion to the situation), put it away for later (bottle it up), or change it because you have misinterpreted what is going on.

Why Anger Management?

Before you become proficient at using your emotions as tools in the moment, you may have hold your feelings in rather than do something which you later regret or which may get you locked up or hurt.  As soon as it is safe, however, you will need to review the situation and the emotion, reevaluate what happened, take a time out, adjust your thoughts, and then, if appropriate, go back and take the necessary action to resolve the threat.  If this isn’t done, you may experience the negative consequences listed above.

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