Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Teen Anger Management

Anger is a very common emotion and problem that a lot adolescents and their parents are having to face. Between the ages of 13 – 18 years is a time in an individual’s life where there is great uncertainty and a time where a lot of changes are occurring both; physically, intellectually and emotionally. Anger can often be directed towards the individual or outwardly towards others (e.g., parents, family, teachers and friends). Below are some strategies to help to deal anger within adolescence:

1. Anger outbursts are usually a result of a lot of built up resentment and frustration within the individual. It is very important to deal with anger as it arises through assertiveness.

2. Try to refrain from consuming alcohol as a way of dealing with your anger. Alcohol will only increase the intensity, frequency and duration of your anger outbursts.

3. As much as possible give your son/ daughter their “own space”. As a parent this may be counter intuitive but it is the best thing that you can do. When they are ready to talk they will come to you and you will be able to have a productive conversation with them about their anger.

4. When talking with others (e.g., son or daughter) about their anger determine in your mind whether (i) they want to be heard or (ii) whether they would like some advice from you. A lot of fights occur when the adolescent wants to be heard and the parent attempts to give them advice.

5. Regularly check in with others within your family (e.g., during dinner). This is a great opportunity to raise any issues that have been on your mind in the short-medium term. It also provides others with an opportunity to raise any issues that have been annoying them. This activity is a great way to promote assertiveness within the family unit.

6. When you do have an angry reaction to a given situation, to acknowledge the feeling. If you feel that you are in control of the feeling, then to address the source of your anger (e.g., being assertive and having a conversation with the person at work, home etc). If you feel that you aren’t in a position to deal with it then and there, to remove yourself from the situation to “calm down” and make a mental note to come back later to deal with it.

7. Ensure that your sleeping patterns aren’t compromised. Try not to think about your anger towards another person before going to bed at nighttime.

8. Try not to play the incident (that is making you angry) over and over in your head. this will make you angrier than need be. Identify that you are angry, and address your anger with the person has soon as humanly possible.

9. Refrain from gossiping about the other person who has made you angry in the first place. It will not help you to deal with your anger and what you have been saying will probably get back to the person concerned making it harder for you to talk with them about the issue.

10. Minimise the consumption of high sugar/ caffeine content drinks (e.g., cordial, soft-drink, coffee, energy drinks).

11. Ensure that you engage in regular physical exercise. This will help to release a lot of pent-up anger

Mark Korduba, Psychologist (m.korduba@gmail.com or http://www.angermanagementbrisbane.com)

Monday, August 16, 2010

Building Assertiveness Skills

Building assertiveness skills is one of the most important things an individual can do. It affects everything. Unfortunately we aren't taught these skills growing up and assertiveness skills are often neglected in life. Usually passive aggression reins supreme.

Now I'm not saying that you need to go around picking fights 'being all assertive'. It is just in certain situations that you need to be assertive to maintain your sanity.

Two areas that I find that are particularly affected by assertiveness or lack there of is (1) Anger Management (2) Anxiety.

The ultimate irony with people who suffer from anger management is that they are horrified of confrontation. Just recently I had a professional fighter came in for anger management counseling. After speaking with him for a while, it emerged that he was horrified of confrontation, especially with his wife. So what happens is the he would avoid conflict and be a 'yes man' and it would build and build and then one day he would explode. Unfortunately his way of dealing with anger is to be physically aggressive. Which isn't on. This may also be one reason for domestic violence and abuse. Lack of assertiveness and inability to handle confrontation.

But people still get confused about when they need to be assertive. I say choose your battles and choose the big ticket items. Don't sweat the small stuff. For example, I had a client come in and was complaining about the state of the house and always having to 'nag' her husband and children to clean up. And she really focused on this. But the bigger ticket item for her was the lack of respect that other members of her family gave her and how they took her for granted. She never bother to talk to them about this bigger ticket item. Strange really.

I like to refer to them as defining moments. Defining moments when you need to be assertive and make an issue of something. Choose wisely because it takes effort to be assertive and make sure that it is related to you bigger ticket items. Other people like to refer to this as boundary setting as well. To know what your important boundaries are and be very clear when other people cross them.

Its hard because we don't like to say no and disappoint people. What will they do? They might not like us? They may never talk to us again. This is a fear of abandonment.

Building assertiveness skills is an important aspect of life and something that everyone should be mindful of.


Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Why Are We So Angry?

I'm constantly amazed at how much anger management is a problem in today's society. It is one of the most common problems that men and women are facing along with depression and anxiety. I think society and social norms have a big part to play in explaining this phenomenon. I would go as far as to say that depression and anxiety is caused by anger management problems.

Men are scared to express any emotion (e.g., Anger) at all and people are generally scared of them when they do, even when it is through healthy assertiveness. This is especially the case in relationships. The stereotype of the 'Yes Dear' laid back emotional partner/ husband is ingrained in males today. So they avoid confrontation at all costs.

I firmly believe that assertiveness in Australian and western society is lacking. I believe that we are socialised to be too polite and really not very honest at all in our dealings with others. In other cultures confrontation is just expected (e.g., Italian, Latino Cultures), which I think is a good thing and more importantly it is normal and natural.

And then you go to work in an organisation. What happens when you have a disagreement with someone? You have to put it in a stupid e-mail. Of course the whole world gets cc'd into the often vicious conversation, meaning that neither party is prepared to stand down from their position. Why to cover you back-side in case the situation gets escalated or HR get called in to mediate at tribunal.

But it is also a problem for females as well, especially for 40 - 50-year old mothers who fall into the sterotype of being the perfect mother. What ever happened to the 'good enough mother'. Why can't it be sexy for men to see a female slightly losing and getting passionate.

A great movie to watch on this subject is: The Upside of Anger (if you can stand Kevin Costner).

The subject has been discussed by many great Australian authors such as Patrick Smith. They talk about the Aussie Surf Culture (or lack there of). Maybe it is that and we as a country need to get a better and stronger national identity.

And possibly it comes from getting part of our national identity from the English. Having spent a year over in London I can say for a fact that they definitely avoid conflict and are masters at passive aggression (often via email). And that's the problem..... Passive Aggression. It is the worst type of aggression. It is game playing, manipulation and ultimately ends in tears and worse.


Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Anger Management Brisbane

Anger Management is the most common problem that men come to see me about. They will either come to see me directly about it or will be forced by a partner, mother, brother etc to see someone about it. Or it will be a sub-issue. For example, they will see me for anxiety or depression but anger management problems are beneath the surface.

So yeah, Anger Management is a real problem for Men in today's society. Why? I don't believe Men know how to or believe that they are allowed to express their anger appropriately. Men believe that they are not allowed to get annoyed, upset, pissed off or just can't say no. Some believing that it might freak people out. So they don't say anything and the anger brews and then one day it all comes out. How do most men deal with not being able to express themselves? Alcohol and lots of it.

N.B., I remember when I was at school (I went to an all-boys school). The worst thing that you could say to someone was 'get cut'. Meaning you have got too angry and there was no return from that comment for some reason and you automatically lost the argument or conversation and looked like an idiot. So from an early age boys are taught not to express any anger, annoyance at all.

The trick is assertiveness or in organisational speak, how to have difficult conversations. It is about 'nipping things in the bud' early on before it becomes an issue. A little bit of confrontation is not a bad thing in a relationship, a friendship, at work and generally in life. Or saying NO! Keeping the peace is overrated and doesn't always work in the end.

Honesty and forthrightness are values that a lot of males have and want to live by. And that is what life is about, living your life by your core values, whatever they are. It is when we move away from these core values or don't live in alignment with them that psychological problems start occurring. Pretty simple really.