I am often asked by partners or individuals do you do Anger Management its affecting my relationship. Yes I am happy to help but its not just anger management here. It’s counselling which means looking at the whole picture and all the feelings to see what is happening. If we get curious we can work out how we got to this place and more importantly we look at what we can do to make things better. I will put money on it that it’s not just Anger that’s going on.
Most people will see Anger as an isolated issue but if we look a little closer it will be a bigger problem than just Anger. Many people will have difficulty managing any big emotions and often there is a history of trauma that’s playing out in the here and now.
Most people won’t identify with the word Trauma but it is any event that is prolonged overwhelming or unpredictable. Some of us will have seen or witnessed things that have frightened us or we may have been parented with fear and control. If our basic needs are not met in the first 3 years of life this is a threat to our survival and has a long term effect on how our brain works. This will also affect our attachment style and if we trust people or if shut people out. Dr Bryan Post says “scared children do scary things” and I don’t think this applies to just children. Often scared and vulnerable and insecure adults do scary things to!
If you are reading this looking for help I would like to say “your out of control anger may be not your fault”. Our brain can work at 50 millionth of second so it can be hard to control that survival brain that flips into fight or flight.
The good news is with some work love and care we can learn to manage the big emotions and get the thinking brain working and settle down that survival brain.
We call this being able to regulate our emotions and use the whole brain.
You are not a bad person you are just unable to manage the emotions possible because you didn’t receive the love and care you needed to build a healthy whole brain. You may have had an anxious hyperactive survival brain that keeps going off even though you are now safe.
Bad things happen to people but it doesn’t make you bad. Please do not let the shame that you can’t do something stop you from seeking support. Without the right support things will only get worse not better and if you do nothing, then nothing changes. The bravest thing you can do is admit I am struggling and I need some help.
When working with couples or individuals I am asked who is at fault, maybe both parties are because one person gets angry then its possible they abuse their partner without meaning to. When we are hurt we may attack back making for a negative cycle of arguments or you might end up with long silences where nobody knows how to put things right. Its both persons problem and both parties can help to find a solution together. You may be suffering from relational trauma and I am here to help if you need it.
We might be very good at arguing but we may not have been taught how to repair relationships and how to hear each other and the trauma brain may need some help settling. It’s hard to hear or see someone else’s distress and not get distressed yourself, particularly if you think you are to blame. Our shame will drive us to want to put things right and it;s hard to step back and give your partner time to cool down.
There maybe an absence of play in a relationship and insecurities may be driving behaviours. If we want to better relationship we need to start looking at the feelings that drive the behaviours. To look at our relationship with our self so we can feel secure in our own skin.
Often those who have experienced early relational trauma may need help to manage feelings they blame themselves but are not aware that early life experiences may be the reason we can’t manage our anger. Its not anger its your survival brain switching on which then sends messages to the body to respond.
If both partners are triggering each others trauma, then we have got two negatives vortexes which are never going to end well. Often we assume that someone is choosing to behave this way and we don’t appreciate that its that they can’t rather than won’t calm down. This survival pattern has been wired in and it is hard to change but not impossible. A lot of care support and understanding will be required for a scared brain to calm down. I don’t just speak as a therapist but as the owner of a scared brain.
I would like to remind you THIS IS NOT YOUR FAULT, you may have got the “you’re just like your Mum or Dad thrown at you” or you might be thinking this yourself or you may be very shamed of what you have done to a partner. I invite you to manage the shame and get some support but not from an anger management specialist from a counsellor who understands the brain and relational trauma.
We may have resorted to some desperate measures to get our emotional and practical needs met this is because the need for love and attachments are required for our survival from birth. If you are not fed and loved as a baby you die and the need doesn’t go away in adults.
If you are working with me you can expect to be exploring some of the following:
- What does love look like and how can we show it/accept it.
- What does blameless good communication look like
- How can we stop fear getting in the way of finding our voice
- What kind of relationship do you have with yourself
- Identify coping strategies for better self care
- Educate you on your brain and body responses
- Reduce the shame of not getting it right.
- Help you manage anxiety and fear
- Learn to tolerate the vulnerable feelings.
- Know the difference between guilt and shame
Relationships are complicated, they take a lot of work, and if there is a history of trauma for either party it’s going to take more work but we can get to healthier relationships with our selves and our partners.
We can’t expect someone to meet our needs in a relationship if we don’t know what they are. We also can’t demand someone meet our needs we have to ask and get curious if they can’t rather than blaming and shaming.
If you need some help with relationships then get in touch, it’s helpful to work on problems together but it can be just as useful for one person to come and explore their relationship in therapy. There is no right or wrong way to tackle a relationship that needs some repair.
Individual or couples therapy takes hard work and time but it can lead to better relationships in both your personal and professional life.
With Love and Best Wishes
Mel and River (Sausage)