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Parent Coaching Series Looks At Anger Management In The Family

LOGO - BLS - large - HQIt has been 10 days since I last posted on this site. I have been busy teaching at AACC and at Freetown Elementary School. It simply amazes me the concern that parents, teachers and even children have on the feelings and expressions of anger. These feelings that we see expressed in explosive ways are most times a result of other emotions that are not understood either by ourselves and certainly not by others.

On December 10 and 11 Balanced Life Skills will be presenting a 30 minutes discussion on Anger Management in the Home. All adults are invited to attend. I thought it would be helpful to define “peace” to begin with and then give some helpful hints to attaining peace in the home. Can we do it all in 30 minutes? Of course not. But we will give some good solid suggestions to begin working on with the whole family.

In later announcements we will provide other curriculum, blog posts and opportunities to learn more. The Balanced Life Skills Way is one of peace, for ourselves, family, schools and community. I personally invite you to become one of the families in our school who value peace in our community.

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5 Emotions That Trigger Most Anger

When I observe anyone who is expressing anger with a behavior that is damaging to themselves or to others I personally feel their pain. There are many causes for the way we feel and express anger but they can be generally summed up with emotions or events:

  • Embarrassment – not achieving a personal goal
  • Loss of respect – shown by an invasion of space either verbally or physically
  • Fear – feeling of inadequacy, not being enough,
  • Shame – Not being happy with ourselves in a certain way, then projecting that on others.
  • Sadness – Grieving over a loss and the unfairness of that loss to ourselves.

I am sure that there are other causes but these 5 sum up the majority of causes of anger. The most common one is Fear. That little reptilian part of our brain that causes us to react when we perceive an attack by either Freezing, Fighting or Fleeing causes some people to appear angry when in fact they are very scared underneath.

WLearning about ourselves is the first step in managing our anger. Which one of these is creating our reactions? Do we show anger the most when we are embarrassed, disrespected, fearful, shamed, or sad? When we can identify what is happening within ourselves, then we can think about what is happening to others, including our children.

I have seen all of these situations and the causes can go very deep. In my own case it was not until I realized that the death of my father at a very early age was the part of the reason I was so quick to react to situations. Knowing this allowed me to look more deeply at myself and find other triggers. This is the work in anger management that I do now, helping others, including children to learn to recognize and communicate their personal triggers.

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How Others See You May Trigger Emotional Reactions

Perception-3The way we see ourselves and the way others perceive us are usually not the same and many times are very far apart. We discussed the 6 different identities that take place in a conversation in our last post. Many times we are unaware of how our behavior appears or is experienced.  For instance if we are a much taller or bigger person than those we are interacting with, just because of size we may come off as intimidating.

There may be other reasons others may feel intimidated including our voice, body language or facial expressions. It may be the quickness that we speak or the critical nature of our speech. We may be prone to outbursts or sarcasm that in our mind are acceptable, but to others is seen as abrasive and put-downs.  Our words or actions may be triggering in others reactions that may trigger a reaction in ourselves.  This spiral of emotional triggers can very easily get out of control.

While we may have many positive character traits, we will never know how others perceive us unless we ask and are open to how others perceive us. This step of becoming aware of our effect on others will help us decide if we need to adjust our reactions and find ways to respond that are not aggressive or intimidating. – need to be aware of the intimidation factor that comes with the position we hold so that our expressions are not seen as intimidating others.

Using empathy we can ask ourselves, “If I was being spoken to at this time in this manner would I feel safe or unsafe.”   Answering very honestly will give us feedback in how we would like to proceed.

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What Triggers Anger?

lighting_the_fuseAnger is neither only a good or bad thing. Anger can be good in that it tells us that something is not right or that there is a danger to ourselves in some manner. Our own very base instincts are then activated and we decide in a split second to fight, to run away or we freeze. In the world we live in today those dangerous things are no longer wild animals, but beneath our anger is a sense that something is being threatened or invalidated in some manner. It may be our values or a belief that is very core to us or it may be a goal we have.

The negative core beliefs we have are very deep inside of us. We do not want others to see or know them about ourselves and we have learned to hide them or even deny them. They could be that “we are stupid”, “not worthy”, “a bad person” or many other things. The problem really arises when we see these things in others and we will react to them. Here is an example:

Deep inside we may feel that “people don’t really trust me” and then the other side of that is “I don’t trust other people and am not to be trusted”. Lets give another easy to grasp example. Have you ever known someone who had to control everything and everyone? Many times we may also notice that they do not really have themselves or their life under control. Even if you did not see this it is most likely true.

That is one of the ways that anger is triggered in us. Discovering what triggers our anger is a beginning to managing our anger and even helping our children to manage theirs. Our coaching program can help with identifying these triggers.

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Personal Conflict – Which Need Is Not Being Met?

iStock_000011809770Small-390x259In every personal conflict, with children or adults, it always comes down to at least one if not both of the parties  not getting one of their basic needs met.  If you are a parent you know that it is far more likely for a young child to be cranky and difficult if they are tired or hungry. In effect they are saying, “I need to sleep or eat now!”.  That really is not just a child thing either. My wife says to me, “are you getting hungry?”, when I start getting cranky. She sees it many times prior to me being aware of it happening.

However there are other needs that are not as simple to identify in times of conflict that may be triggering our angry behaviors. Every human has the need for certainty in their life. If we are unsure of what is happening or how things will turn out, for some this will trigger angry behavior. At the same time all of us have a need for uncertainty, meaning we need variety in our life. If we do not get that need met, we will feel bored and life will be monotonous. When some get bored they may get angry.

Another need that every human has is the need for love and connection. If we feel we are not being loved or our connections are not as strong as we desire, our behavior will reflect this need not being met. Everyone also has a need to feel significant and we will find a way to get this need met either in a healthy or unhealthy way. In fact all of these needs will be met either in a healthy or unhealthy way. When they are not being met – they can trigger in us anger, anxiety, depression and all other sorts of emotional reactions.

When we find ourselves in a conflict we will want to ask ourselves, what need do I have that is not being met? We also want to consider the other person too, what need do they have that is not being met? Each person is unique in their needs. One person may crave certainty more than uncertainty and it will show itself in them with more anxiety. There are two more needs that every human has and learning about all of them is key to managing our own emotional health.

At Balanced Life Skills we believe that working on our whole self is key to a balanced life, for ourselves and our children. We are prepared to help parents and children to find this peace in their life.

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