by Mike Martinez, RMHCI
First off, I want to let you know that anger is a normal human emotion which can range from slight irritation to strong rage. Keyword here is “normal.” It can become a problem when we don’t express it appropriately (aggressiveness) or don’t express it at all (resentment).
Control & Expectation
We want to control things. Who doesn’t? When we have our workday ahead of us, we want it to go a certain way. We expect it to. When the unexpected happens, how do we react? Are we open to the change? Are we prepared for it? When we’re not, this can leave us feeling like we do not have control of something we thought we did.
Not having control does not sit well with most of us. This is where our buddy anger comes in: “Well, if I can’t control this, you bet I’m going to control this instead.” (and here’s where we insert our problematic behavior of choice – ranging from dominating a conversation by yelling or storming out – NOW who’s in control?!)
The sad part is that we try to control things by losing control. Yes, I’ll repeat that – We try to control things by losing control. Interesting, isn’t it? So even though we may appear to control the situation – anger is the one in control. Yes, you’ve been hijacked! Now don’t feel too bad – this is a common problem – you are not alone. Also, you can take steps to control anger!
The Key to Controlling Your Anger
So what’s the answer to this, Mike? How do I not control things by losing control? I believe it starts with adding some flex to your expectation. Start by recognizing your expectation: “I want only minimal traffic,” but then add some flexibility: “I hope for only minimal traffic but if there’s more, that’s ok, too.”
Another example (coming from a father of 2, ages 3 & 4): Instead of, “When I say, ‘Get ready for bed,’ I want my son to put on his pajamas and get in bed within the next 5 minutes so that he can get a decent amount of sleep and I can get some relaxation,” I can change it to, “It would be perfect if he could put on his pajamas quickly and get in bed within the next 5 minutes so that he can get a decent amount of sleep and I can get some relaxation, but I know he’s only 3 and he’s going to mess around and want to play instead.”
See? Now the expectation has changed. Now if he doesn’t get ready for bed immediately, I was already expecting that. I was already prepared. If he fails to meet my new expectation, that only means he got to bed quickly! Win!
All this is easier said than done, but with practice, you can learn to recognize the situations that cause the most anger in you (these are known as triggers) and you can begin to practice changing your expectations and in turn control/manage your anger better.
We all experience frustrations due to failed expectations. It’s important to recognize when we need help managing our anger. If you or someone you know is in need, get help! You’re not alone. Call Life Counseling Solutions today at 407-622-1770 to set up an appointment with me or schedule an appointment with me online here.
Mike’s goal is to assist clients in reaching their full potential by helping them explore within themselves to find their strengths. He pays special attention to building a therapeutic relationship in order to create a safe place for change and growth. Mike provides counseling services to people of many different backgrounds, but specializes in helping men with anger management struggles. Continue reading here.
This was a great article to read. I loved the explanation of changing expectations to avoid disappointments. This will be a good tool to practice not getting angry when life doesn’t go according to my strict plans. Thank you Mike!
Thanks for sharing, Nicole. I’m so glad the article was helpful!