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Dr. Mark
Dr. Mark, Psychotherapist
Category: Mental Health
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Experience:  Dr. Mark is a PhD in psychology in private practice
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Hidden anger issues comming out when upset...baggage from a

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Hidden anger issues comming out when upset...baggage from a 24 year divorced..child hood issues as well...I hold in the little things till they come to the surface...turning into a ball of past present anger..

Hi! I believe I can be of help with this issue.

First, let me say I can tell from the intensity of your question that there is a lot that has happened behind your asking. And it is all the intense events and emotions that are making you ask this. Your anger is a problem that is hurting you and sand you know it's hurting your relationships and your life.

That you recognize that this is not a good situation and that you need to do something about it is so very encouraging. Good for you. Use this recognition within yourself that you need to change the situation to motivate you to keep going in this direction.

The source of anger is the need to be in control. Anger is when things occur counter to how you want them to have occurred. They did not go as you wanted them to go, thought they should go, needed them to go, or demanded they go. They turned out some other way and you couldn't control things.

A classic example is road rage: someone pulls right in front of you in traffic and you have to put on the brakes suddenly. That jerk! How dare he! I've had patients in my office who have followed the person who did this to them all the way to that person's destination and gotten into a fight with him and wound up spending the night in jail. Seriously. What was the problem?

On the surface it looks like disrespect: they became angry because that person showed them no respect. But disrespect is just the result. It is a lack of control. Another example will show this:

Her kid spills the milk on the floor. She's upset. Why does he always do this when she's late! What's wrong with him? Why can't he be careful?

What's the same in both these examples? They are events you can't control. You can't control what someone else does. You can't control the guy in the car pulling ahead of you and you can't control a kid's clumsiness.

So the angry person says, he did that to me so I got mad. As if it was automatic. But it's not automatic. You CAN control how you react. Here's what I mean.

When you're cut off in traffic, when your kid spills the milk, the first reaction is to have heightened anxiety, to get startled and to be angry. Everyone feels this. But the reaction to that initial feeling of anger and anxiety is under our control. It's not automatic. There's no reflex that makes us scream at our kid. There's no reflex that makes us scream at the guy who cut us off. That's under our control.

Therefore, the goal of all anger management is to learn to make a pause between that initial feeling of anger at the event and the acting out of anger. The pause between the feeling and the reaction. That's the key.

Again, with controlling your anger, the principles above are the principles of all anger management: make peace with not being in control of what happens in the world. And second, pause between the feeling and the reaction to CHOOSE your behavior. This is the basis of all anger management classes.

You might consider going to anger management classes. You can Google them in your area. Remember that most classes are going to be filled with people who are court mandated to be there for doing something angry that got them in trouble. So they may not want to be there. Don't be influenced by them.

You might also seek help in therapy. Here is the web address for Psychology Today's therapist directory. You can sort by zip codes and when you see someone who seems like they might be helpful (they show you a photo of the therapist!) look at the listing and see if they list anger and anxiety issues in the areas they work with. Interview the therapist and make sure his/her values are similar to you and you feel confident and comfortable with him/her.

Good Therapy is a non profit directory. Same idea as the one above:

Okay, I wish you the very best!

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