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Anger, Irritation and Resentment (Clear the AIR)
Counselor Toolbox for Mental Health...

 
 
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455 – Anger, Irritation and Resentment:
Clearing the AIR
Instructor: Dr. Dawn-Elise Snipes PhD, LPC-MHSP, LMHC
Executive Director: AllCEUs Counseling CEUs and Specialty Certificates
Podcast Host: Counselor Toolbox, Case Management Toolbox

Objectives
• Explore the function of anger
• Identify the types of threats that may prompt anger
• Identify different types of anger to include
• Run of the mill anger
• Irritation
• Resentment
• Envy/Jealousy
• Guilt/Regret
Function of Anger
• Anger is part of the fight or flight reaction which is your brain’s natural response to a perceived threat
• Anger pushes away or helps you dominate a threat

Types of Threats
• Threats can be to your…
• Person (physical harm)
• Property (Damage or take my stuff)
• Self-esteem or self-concept
• Hurt your feelings
• Make you question your goodness as a person
• Make you concerned that other people will think poorly of you
• Origin
• Things others do or don’t do
• Internal critic/old tapes/others from the past
• Conscience (guilt and regret)
Types of Threats
• Themes
• Rejection/Isolation
• Loss of Control/The Unknown
• Death/Loss
• Failure
• Real vs. Perceived Threats
• Real threats actually exist
• Perceived threats are based on
• Cognitive distortions
• Prior experiences
• Emotional reasoning
• Incomplete information
Activity
• How do you handle threats to your:
• Person/property?
• Self-Esteem?
• How can you handle threats from:
• Others
• Your internal critic (Past Others)
• Your conscience (self anger, guilt and regret)
Anger/Irritation
• Anger is a generic term that describes the fight reaction in response to a threat
• You feel like you can conquer the threat OR
• You do not see any options for escape (think cat in a corner)
• Anger happens on a continuum ranging from mild irritation to rage
• The level of anger experienced is usually in proportion to
• The immediate threat
• The cumulative effect of multiple threats
• Many times when people feel angry, underneath they also have a sense of helplessness or disempowerment.
What Triggers Your Anger
• Threats
• Rejection/Isolation
• Loss of Control/The Unknown
• Death/Loss
• Failure
What to Do About Anger
• Identify the threat
• Explore the automatic beliefs triggering the anger
• Why is this making you angry? (It makes me angry when…. I hate it when…)
• How is this similar to other (unresolved) situations in your past?
• Are there alternate explanations for the situation?
What to Do About Anger
• Identify the threat cont…
• What threat theme is it related to?
• Rejection: Is it really about you?
• Failure:
• Are you globalizing?
• What can you learn?
• Loss of Control/The Unknown:
• What parts of this were and were not in your control?
• What actions are worth your energy
• Death/Loss
• How does this impact how you see the world?
• How does it impact how you see yourself?
Activity
Resentment
• Resentment is anger directed at others for things they either did and shouldn’t have or didn’t do and should have.
• What is the impact of holding on to resentments?
• Emotionally
• Mentally
• Physically
• Socially
• Spiritually (Hope, faith, courage/willingness, discipline, integrity)
• Many times underlying resentment are hurt feelings. (Example: You invited Jane to the party and not me.)

What Do You Resent
• Make a chart with 4 columns, one for each threat
• Rejection/Isolation
• Loss of Control/The Unknown
• Death/Loss
• Failure
• Take 30 minutes and identify as many resentments as you can and place them in the appropriate column (only one)
• Review the finished list and mark off all resentments of things over which you have no control.
• Now, cross off any that have no effect on your ability to live a rich and meaningful life
• Explore how you can accept these things and let go of the anger
• Of the ones left, brainstorm ways of addressing that resentment

Envy/Jealousy
• Envy and jealousy can be thought of as anger at someone else for having something you want.
• What is the impact of holding on to envy?
• Emotionally
• Mentally
• Physically
• Socially
• Spiritually (Hope, faith, courage/willingness, discipline, integrity)
Envy/Jealousy
• Many times underlying envy and jealousy are:
• Low self-esteem
• People don’t like me because I am not as pretty as her.
• Lack of gratitude awareness
• Focusing primarily on all the things you don’t have
• Lack of clarity about personal goals
• I wish I were a CEO like her (but that would mean sacrificing other things more important to me)
• Erroneous conclusions
• If I were rich I would be happy.

Activity: What Do You Envy?
• Identify each of the people and things you envy.
• In what way does each of those things represent:
• Acceptance and Inclusion –the “in” crowd
• Control and Power
• Success
• Someone having something you lost
Notice how each of these is the opposite of a threat theme
• Why might people envy you?

Activity: What Do You Envy?
• Why might people envy you?
• In what way does each of those things represent:
• Acceptance and Inclusion
• Control and Power
• Success
• Someone having something you lost
• What does it mean if people don’t envy you?
• Rejection
• Loss of power/control
• Failure
Activity: What Do You Envy?
• Identify three people you respect and/or love but don’t envy
• Is it possible to respect/love someone and not want to be like them or have what they have?
Guilt/Regret
• Guilt and regret are anger directed at yourself for things you either did and shouldn’t have or didn’t do and should have.
• Anger represents your minds way of identifying a threat and getting you to do something.
• In what way is holding on to guilt and regret
• An effective response to the threat
• Preventing you from effectively responding to the threat

Activity: Guilt/Regret
• Take 30 minutes and identify as many regrets as you can
• Review the finished list and mark off all guilt & regret of things over which you have no control. (Ex. Guilt because the house was destroyed in a fire)
• Now, cross off any that have no effect on your ability to live a rich and meaningful life. (Ex. Not taking parents advice…)
• Explore how you can accept these things and let go of the anger at yourself
• Of the ones left, brainstorm ways of addressing those resentments. Consider addressing one each day.

Forgiveness
• Forgiveness is a power move.
• Forgiveness allows you to choose to stop giving your power to something or someone else. To stop “letting it make you angry.”
• Forgiveness doesn’t mean it was okay.
• Forgiveness means accepting reality as it is and choosing to learn from the experience and use your energy for things that are more meaningful.
Summary
• Anger exists on a continuum
• It is a response to a real or perceived threat designed to get you to do something
• The intensity of the response often represents the level of threat
• Many times threats are perceived based on prior learning experiences that trigger memories or critical self-talk
• By knowing what is important and meaningful in your life you can more effectively identify what things actually present a threat and respond more effectively.