I am a firm believer in the idea that how humans express language holds one of the keys to reducing anger. The world renowned anger management model, from Anderson and Anderson, proposes that anger management, stress management, emotional intelligence and communication skills are fundamental to anger management. I believe that this model holds the keys to further exploration of new research areas in anger management especially as it relates to emotional intelligence and an emotional vocabulary. Again and again the Anderson model has been beneficial to individuals and organizations. What is needed is more intense work to fully realize the unlocked potential of this model.
My interest is in the area of emotional intelligence. There is a lot of talk about emotional intelligence but little conversation about the idea of an emotional vocabulary/literacy. I have done something very interesting in my anger management sessions to further the emotional literacy of my clients: I created a rule stating that during the session no one can use the word anger but me. I am amazed at how clients struggle to express themselves without the use of the word anger/angry. I observe long pauses as children and adults search their minds for the “real emotions” which lead to anger outbursts ( NOTE: anger is a secondary emotion which is always driven by anther emotion). I have taught my clients new words to express their feelings. The results are that clients feel a sense of relief when they locate their true emotions.
What else does a greater emotional vocabulary do? I am finding that as clients learn to express their real feelings they are less likely to be explosive. With time, the client is able to name and own their feelings. Without the language the client tends to internalize their feelings which creates what I have described in the past as mental noise which in turn fuels anger. One client even reported a sense of feeling whole when she knew exactly how she felt.
So the next time you feel to use the “a” word I encourage you to keep a feelings chart handy and identify your real emotion. This simple exercise can circumvent many conflicts. Here are a few unconventional feeling words-concerned, weakened, sub-human and challenged.
Check out my other posting for more information on this topic. You may also consult with an Anderson and Anderson Provider in your area at www.anger-management-resources.org for more information on learning communication skills as part of anger management.
Carlos R. Todd, LPC, NCC, CAMF
President of the American Association of Anger Management Providers
Carlos Todd is a Licensed Professional Counselor and a Certified Anger Management provider and has close to a decade of experience in the mental health field. He also owns and operates Todd's Anger Management Solution (TAMS) in North Carolina. Mr. Todd was recently appointed president of the American Association of Anger Management Providers.
Carlos Todd, LPC, CAMF