Can Coaching Help With “My” Anger?

Short answer, yes.

The first thing to note, when you define any emotion as “my”, you’re subconsciously owning it. Instead, define it as “the” to create an objective perspective.

Why should you do this? Because simple reframes in language positively aid how an emotion or thought impacts us.

There is no single modality of treatment that acts as a silver bullet to help shift anger. I am trained in Emotional Freedom Technique (Tapping), CoachingNLPHypnotherapyRoot cause healing and by the end of summer, I will also become an EMDR practitioner.

When clients arrive, I don’t reduce their anger to fit into a preferred modality. Instead,  I select a range of modalities (within my toolbox) to create the powerful shift they need. In this article, I’ll share one of the approaches I took with a client.

Anger; A Case Study

A client in her early 40s came to see me after 15 years of struggling to manage anger. She’s a mother, a wife and an ambitious business woman with a national (soon to be international) product. To protect her identity, I’ll call her Sylvia.

Sylvia proclaimed she had tried every anger management book, programme and strategy under the sun! She had enlisted the help of numerous therapists and counsellors, but their strategies failed to create impactful or lasting change.

This time, her back was up against a wall; her husband had issued an ultimatum. Either she sorts her anger issue out, or the marriage would end. She was distraught.

Self-Awareness

Sylvia described her anger as a red mist enveloping her. It nearly always involved another person “undermining” her or being “unfair” towards her or someone else. She physically couldn’t turn a blind eye in situations where people spoke down or mistreated others. Her radar always switched to all discriminations. She recognised she was especially agitated by people in positions of authority such as headteachers, security staff at the shopping centres, staff in post offices, males, and elders. Hypervigilance is a trauma response.

These frequent outbursts meant not a week went by when she hadn’t argued with someone in her family or outside the home. Furthermore, each event stacked shame and failure,  especially when her children witnessed her disproportionate reactions. She knew it was creating a deep lack of self-respect due to her inability to regulate the anger emotion.

Challenging behaviours

She was done with the old anger management strategies, so I knew an entirely whole different approach was necessary, but I wasn’t too sure what. At times she could be aggressive and dismissive towards me, but I recognised this was a learned approach to safeguard herself against any challenge.

At first, I created a safe space for her to share her life experiences that may be at the root of her anger. that I did this because I identified her default position was one of mistrust. She didn’t trust my processes; she didn’t trust my suggestions, and she didn’t trust herself. She felt unsafe and unprotected. She would ignore or undermine my suggestions only to send text messages or emails later apologising. Anger and rage had a chokehold on her; she was stuck in cycles of anger followed by shame and guilt.

I knew she was going to need time, and plenty of it.

Understanding Anger

Sylvia began to share snippets of her childhood. Her father, at times, had angry outbursts where he would shout and yell in an intimidating way. Her elders commonly displayed anger. Her mother didn’t have a voice in the home, and even if she witnessed her father lashing out, the mum didn’t have the confidence to stand up for Sylvia.

With this client and the majority of my British Asian clients, the cultural context must be understood and considered. The traditional dominant elder males carry enormous power in households. If they’re overbearing, verbal and physical with anyone in the home, children can go on to develop deep anger and fear of those in positions of authority sharing similar traits.

Sylvia felt like a misfit and wasn’t allowed to do the same things as other girls. She was made to feel guilty for even asking to do normal everyday things that by her family were considered inappropriate. She felt restricted in the home and experienced being a victim of racism outside the home.

Each time she shared her past experiences, she cried inconsolably, overwhelmed by her own vulnerability. It was as though time had stood still and she was in deep pain once again. She also told me about childhood sexual abuse but didn’t want to address that as she felt she had accepted it.

As Sylvia grew, the arousal state of her Anger shifted. She went from feeling sad and helpless in her early years to evolving into outrage and rebellion in her late teens. Her strong need for justice prevented her from walking away from situations where she ‘needed’ to have the last word and make it known to the people in question; they cannot ‘disrespect’ her.

The first positive thing she accepted was that anger was a signal; it meant she cared about herself immensely and wanted to protect herself at all costs. Her radar was always on high alert, which constantly raised her stress levels.

The trouble was her anger was often disproportionate to the event, and she never felt like she had a choice to walk away. She often asked me, “how do I walk away?”, “how do people walk away when someone disrespects them?”.

It was unfathomable to her.

The re-programming

Sylvia endured several traumatic events under the age of 11. I suspected Intermittent Explosive Disorder. As a coach, whilst I do not diagnose conditions, I do due diligence, especially when the client has tried every strategy and her anger remains disproportionate and highly disordered.

Lifestyle

I made recommendations to raise her Serotonin Levels in all the natural ways readily available to her. Serotonin is considered a natural mood stabiliser, and optimal amounts can improve sleep, reduce anxiety and depression. My suggestions were personalised to Sylvia’s lifestyle and included movement, meditation and mindfulness. In addition, I enlisted expert input from a Nutritionist colleague who suggested increasing levels of Tryptophan over time (through diet), which enables the production of Serotonin.

Neurolinguistic Programming (NLP)

Using a technique called the Sub-modality Shift and The Fast Phobia Cure, we began to reduce the emotional impact and intensity of certain events had on her. She would try to reconnect with the negative feelings within each session, but she simply couldn’t. NLP is powerful for breaking associations in the mind, so whilst you still recall the event, the intensity of emotions is neutralised.

Emotional Freedom Technique (Tapping)

I taught Sylvia about the energy superhighway running through her body known as the Meridian points. Tapping on these with a real intention to release intense feelings or thoughts created such enormous expansion in her mind/body connection. I made personalised recordings for her, which she could do anytime she wanted to prevent or recover from anxiety or stress.

Psychology Education

Sylvia began to understand that anger was a response she chose on a subconscious level. Yes, she had learned it from her environment, but it was still a choice, a choice driven by her inner-child. I wanted Sylvia to understand, accept and take responsibility whilst growing deeper compassion for herself.

I shared resources for her to digest specifically on the role of the Inner child/ Egoic mind. She started to be able to recognise the insecurities driving her intense emotions. In many cases, this knowingness was enough for her to alter her responses in real-time. This internal filtering enabled her to remain focused on her outcomes. The growth was humbling to witness.

Hypnotherapy

Before Sylvia came to me, she was exhausted from using her willpower to create change. Something kept overriding and undoing all her attempts to release the anger. So I carried out several Hypnotherapy sessions with Sylvia. Hypnotherapy works with the powerful subconscious mind where every single experience is stored and memorised since birth. Through Hypnotherapy, we were able to reach the root cause of issues and embed new positive beliefs in her subconscious mind. This means there is no longer any friction or resistance; her new feelings and behaviours are effortless. I gave Sylvia the audio recordings from our sessions so she can perform self-hypnosis whenever she hits a bump in the road or simply to strengthen the new programming.

Summary

We measured progress by recording a log of incidents. The occurrence of rage and anger went from daily to weekly to monthly and now rarely. I spoke with Sylvia a few weeks ago, and she can’t remember the last time she felt anger! Yes, she feels upset at times and she’s noticed that she’s still on alert, but now there’s balance.

Anecdotally, Sylvia reports her marriage is back on track and all her relationships have evolved in many improved ways. She is much more compassionate to herself and others. She’s measured in her response and is objective in situations. In real-time, she has developed the capability to create a time-out and re-route her thoughts to create a more positive outcome. Her self-respect has grown. She trusts herself. She’s proud of the person she has become and now fully understands her behaviours were a signal from her subconscious mind to heal her past wounds.

Anger ranges from retreating, helplessness, and depressive thoughts all the way to rage and explosive tendencies. Anger, as an emotion, gets very bad press! Every emotion has a positive intention. Anger is a signal or energy alerting us to act, whether to prevent harm or heal from past events. Anger can be a positive and powerful emotion capable of driving us to change, grow and make decisions. Once you detach from old wounds, you can channel the energy of anger into positive outcomes.

If anger affects you or someone close to you, please share this blog with them.

Hi! I’m Roksana, a life coach for women in St Albans, Hertfordshire. I run face to face and online sessions via Zoom. I’m always happy to answer your questions around any of my methods or approaches. Long term changes begin with a guide who has walked a similar path, has a blueprint, will give you support and accountability every step of the way. If you’re interested to know more then please book a FREE call with me.

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