We all get angry at times. When we feel we’re threatened we react with anger. Sometimes the anger is explosive. At other times it comes across in cold silences. Sometimes anger is linked to depression and often undermines our relationships. I know it happened to me. I’m offering a class this year for men and women. If you’re interested drop me an email and put “anger class” in the subject line.
I’ve written two books about how it impacted me and how I learned to help myself and my clients: The Irritable Male Syndrome: Understanding and Managing the 4 Key Causes of Depression and Aggression and Mr. Mean: Saving Your Relationship from The Irritable Male Syndrome.
When I did research for The Irritable Male Syndrome I developed a quiz to help people better understand their anger and whether it was causing a problem in their lives. Thus far more than 60,000 people have taken the quiz. Men take it to learn about themselves. Women take it to better understand and help the man in their lives.
My wife used to tell me that I would get “that beady-eyed look” when I was angry. She said it would chill her to the core. Often the more she withdrew the more angry I would become and, of course, the more she would withdraw, a vicious cycle that would just make the problem worse. Here some tips I’ve found helpful:
- Understand that an irritable and angry man is often hungry for love.
Andrew Solomon wrote a very personal and comprehensive look at depression and describes the relationship between depression and love. In The Noonday Demon: An Atlas of Depression, he says, “Depression is the flaw in love. To be creatures who love, we must be creatures who can despair at what we lose, and depression is the mechanism of that despair.”
When I was angry it was often because I was feeling desperately lonely and cut off from others. I recognized that my anger was pushing away the very people I needed to love me, but I often couldn’t reverse the negative cycle of anger, withdrawal, and more anger. I was often depressed but didn’t realize it.
- Recognize that you are not to blame for your partner’s anger.
When a man gets aggressive and angry, it often appears to him like someone must be to blame for his unhappiness. He often directs his anger at others and you may feel like the target. Sometimes you can start to feel like you are the problem and you come to believe that you really are bad.
Don’t let yourself believe it. You are not to blame for his anger and you aren’t really the target. Laura Huxley wrote a wonderful book, You Are Not the Target: Recipes for Living and Loving. Huxley says, “At one time or another the more fortunate among us make three startling discoveries.
- Discovery number one: Each one of us has, in varying degree, the power to make himself and others feel better or worse.
- Discovery number two: Making others feel better is much more rewarding than making them feel worse.
- Discovery number three: Making others feel better generally makes us feel better.”
Helping yourself feel better and helping an angry man can be a gift to you both.
- Angry men often suffer from Male Attachment Disorder (MAD).
I recently wrote a book, My Distant Dad: Healing the Family Father Wound. I talked about growing up with a father who was distant, then absent, then rejecting, and finally dysfunctional. I also talked about how father loss impacts our mothers. Millions of men (and women) grow up in a family where our fathers were absent physically or emotionally. The result for men is what I call Male Attachment Disorder (MAD).
Without a solid sense of security and love as children, we often grow up feeling overly sensitive to loss. When a relationship is under stress we often react with anger. We are usually not even aware of the underlying cause between our adult anger and our childhood wounds.
Fortunately, there is hope for men and the women who love them. In the class, I’ll be helping you understand the true cause of your anger, how to get the love we really desire, and how to talk openly about our needs for nurture and support.
If you’d like more information about the upcoming class, drop me a note and put “anger class” in the subject line. I look forward to sharing what I’ve learned.
Originally published on Men Alive
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