Archive for April 27th, 2011
A local man speaks out about his uncontrolled anger and how his journey through an 18-session anger management program has shown him how to deal with anger issues in a positive manner.
He knew he had to do something when he saw his three young boys cowering in fear after seeing their father break a window during an argument with their mother.
Uncontrolled anger can erupt into violence without knowing the right methods to curb it, according to a young International Falls man, who agreed to tell his story to The Journal.
After recently completing an 18-session anger management program, he said it’s important that people know it can happen to anyone.
“We all have anger, and you consider the ones in the program the lucky ones because they’re getting knowledge about how their behavior is affecting the community, others, themselves. The ball is in your court. It’s up to you what you do with the knowledge.”
He gave up a Saturday morning to talk to the Journal, which has agreed to keep his name confidential to protect his family and his future in this community.
The April 28 Walk a Mile in Her Shoes — The International Mens March to Stop Rape, Gender Violence and Sexual Assault — is a way to bring awareness to the issue that men, and women, have a responsibility to seek the tools they need to stop themselves as well as others from violence.
He grows emotional as he recalls the incident that led to the realization that he needed to find out why he was so angry and how to stop the violence that was fed by anger and alcohol.
“I was absolutely devastated I acted that way,” he said.
“For them to see me break a window …” he said choking back tears. “For them to have to cower when they saw me like that …”
He returned to the Falls, his hometown, after that important event. He was already on probation for another incident and when he reported the infractions — violence and use of alcohol — his probation officer referred him to Friends Against Abuse, where he was to take a test to find out if an anger management program was appropriate.
“I told her that it didn’t matter what the results were, but I needed knowledge and help with my situation and about where some of this comes from.”
Since completion of the program, which includes group sessions, he says he’s found that anger can be a trigger that causes people to use alcohol, and alcohol can trigger an eruption of anger that has built up, sometimes over years, that has not been appropriately addressed.
The idea of taking 18 sessions was daunting, he said. But coming to the program was a relief.
“It became part of my life,” he said. “It was one of the things I did in my way of changing, something to look forward to.”
He said the FAA staff, counselors, probation officers and men in the group helped him to learn about himself and how to head off anger before it turns violent.
“Violence can be silent, and people don’t see that, so the knowledge of it’s important to everyone, male, female, kids,” he said.
The sessions taught him about how to recognize the feelings of anger.
“I get a feeling in my gut, almost like a high, as I get worked up, and now I know to think about whether this is worth that reaction. Does it need that reaction? Do I walk away?”
Five to 10 men attended each of the sessions, which were led by an instructor, and allowed the men “to get some of your garbage out.” Ages of the group members ranged from 18 to late 50s. Some were ordered by the court to attend.
He said he continues friendships with some of the group members.
“To hear that somebody else had this stuff and know you’ve been there, too; you need to hear that it’s healthier to get out of the situation, to let it go, or not put yourself in those situations from other people,” he said.
He jokes that it took him a little longer than 18 weeks to complete the program, but he says it may have been intentional to prolong the positive things he was feeling.
“I learned a lot about accountability, being accountable for my own actions, and I have done that. I am a different person in front of you now than I was. And I am continually working on it,” he said. “What this program has made me do is think and be conscious about it, about how I am, how I am toward others. If I am wrong to openly admit it. You let things go and not deal with things, but owning it is pretty big.”
Anger can build, he said, especially in a relationship.
“When the final straw hits, it all goes and you go back into situations that could have been handled and the slate would have been clean,” he said. “If you’re sharing these feelings and not attacking, you’re able to learn and put it behind you. You can’t swallow it and then bring it up in a fight down the road. Disagreements should be handled by treating someone as an equal, not like you are above someone.”
He’s not in a relationship now. “I’m probably not ready for one, but when the time comes, I want to be conscious of it, there be more of a togetherness in working things out. Having a friend, not someone you take advantage of or control.”
All people have the potential to become violent if they do not know how to handle their anger, he said.
“We all wake up and try to move forward in life,” he said. “We’re all people and people get angry. It’s just how you handle it from there.”
The program, he said, would be beneficial to anyone. The key is to be open about it, he said.
The first couple sessions were a bit awkward, but hearing people share their lives makes it easier, he said. And the men further along in the course served as mentors to the others just starting.
“This is your time, you’re paying for the class,” he said. “I am a firm believer in self help. You should not feel shame. I don’t feel any shame about taking this class, and I have their (the people who put on the program and take it) back, 100 percent.”
He said he wasn’t concerned about his personal information being spread in the community.
“If anyone said anything about it, I would ask them what they were doing about their life,” he said. “I am owning mine.”
He maintains a relationship with his children and hopes they can visit him and go fishing together. He and their mother continue to speak, and he says he has no concerns because she takes good care of their children.
“They’re innocent,” he said. “I don’t want them to remember their dad being mad.”Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( 1 so far )
If you choose to decrease your anger at someone, the first step is to make every effort to see the situation from their point-of-view. You might begin by asking them to explain their point of view. Encourage them to talk about underlying assumptions, beliefs, or background factors that may have led them to the point-of-view or behavior you are upset about. Summarize what they say and their emotions from their point of view (so that they agree you understand their point of view). Understanding their situation, point of view, and the causes of their beliefs and behavior is usually the major hurdle to get control of anger.
If it is impossible to have that kind of conversation with someone, then try to imagine an understanding scenario that allows you to defuse your anger. From my experience of dealing with people with similar situations, I try to imagine what they might have been thinking and why.
If you do not know the person well enough to know what their motives were, then what can you do? Can you accept human nature as it really is? Can you accept that there are killings, child abuse, theft, inconsiderate behavior, or other damaging events–without getting too upset about them? Can you accept that some people will take advantage of me and “get away with it”? To be able to control our anger despite tragic events, we must each find a way to deal with the “dark side” of life. Issues of injustice, unfairness, and entitlements.Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( None so far )