No One Can MAKE Me Angry….Right?

8 12 2007

Even though I work as a counselor, I have to admit that there are some things you will hear from some social workers or counselors (I’ll call them SW/C from here on out) that are complete crap. Their techniques are generally based on research, but let’s be honest people…we are still talking about human beings who make mistakes and say stupid things just like the rest of us. If you come across an SW/C in your life, you do not have to accept everything they say as though it is gospel. One such statement would be, “No one can MAKE you angry; only you can ALLOW yourself to be angry.” Oh really? Yes, we are robots who can completely control our human emotions. Let’s talk about a couple of examples. Your making a quick trip to a grocery store. You park, grab your items (corn on the cob and margarine? Nah, this is hypothetical, so let’s go with whipped cream and strawberries.) You come outside and see an ex-girlfriend keying your car after having spray-painted, “You Suck” on it. Now, remember that expensive counseling you’ve had. “She can’t MAKE you angry.” Yeah, right…I beg to differ. Let’s go with another example any parent can relate to: You’ve just made it back home after your four-year-old has been on your last nerve all day (he threw a fit about his shoes, kicked the dog, and screamed and hit at you while you tried to get him to leave the library in a peaceful and quiet manner). The moment you walk in your house, he makes a move for the kitchen, yanks open the fridge door, and grabs orange juice. You tell him to stop as your carrying in an armload of goodies from the library. Does he stop? No, he unscrews the lid and, while trying to run from you, spills the majority of the sticky stuff all over the kitchen floor. Are you going to get mad? You bet your sweet butt you will.

I tell people I work with that we all have to deal with mean people, obnoxious people, rude people (the list goes on). We will all (beyond our control) get angry from time to time; it’s natural. It’s what we do when we are angry that is either right or wrong. Bottom line, a good counselor or social worker (in my opinion) is one that can provide some common sense guidance and help you to see for yourself what you might want to change about your life. There’s my two cents. Take it for what it’s worth (probably about two cents).

(I will add that if you are the type who gets angry every day or regularly blows up at something small like your cell phone being moved one end table over, you might want to consider talking to an SW/C because you’ve got an issue that is going to negatively affect your life).

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9 responses

8 12 2007
mollymac

I was just at the mall and there was a group of people walking in a horizontal line so I couldn’t get by. My bags were so heavy, I thought my arms were going to snap. They definitely MADE me angry.

8 12 2007
indianamatt

Molly,
Sounds perfectly normal to me. Plus, I love the new term you have coined: “Horizontal Walkers” I’m going to have to use that. 🙂 (Hope you and the bags made it home safely).

9 12 2007
trixfiend

Hmmmm….how about if somebody steals your Kit-Kat? Can that “make” you angry. I firmly believe that it can and it did.

10 12 2007
wheresroxy

I always got a kick out of the, “You choose anger” line. Ugh. Please. Give me a break.
No, more like – that ex chose to behave like a child and chose to engage in an act of vandalism. I may choose to vent my angry by pressing charges.
The child chose to be a misbehaving little monster (and all kids sometimes do) and I may choose to vent that anger by sticking the four-year-old butt in time out while I clean up. And ask me if said kid will get any treats that day.
Well said!

29 12 2007
Brianmpei

I hate the line as well and agree there’s a lot of myth information there. I do think the origin was about taking control of your own feelings rather than being a person who is manipulated by others bad behavior.

Experience has also taught me we can have different responses to the same stimulus. Once, I walked in on my son doing a little creative artwork with permanent marker on his bedroom wall (let’s just call it a mural – we noticed he was too quiet for too long) that I went to laughing rather than crying or anger. My wife had a slightly different emotional response. Particularly when she saw he’d marked on himself as well.

16 03 2008
Jim

The first time I heard your statement “No one can MAKE you angry; only you can ALLOW yourself to be angry” I was in an Anger Management Class I decided to attend. I had always used the temptation to rationalize my anger; and not assume full responsibility for who I was.

We always have the choice of dropping anger. To let it go.

I remember the a few of the steps toward anger management. These include: It is important to recognize the many faces of anger. Admit that all angry expressions, good or bad are the result of choices.

The class allowed us to identify our anger. Understand how our anger thrives on unmet needs. How other emotions create anger and how to apply those new insights to anger reduction.

Our instructor was excellent and I left with a new appreciation about how to recognize the many faces of anger. I recommend the workbook we used in the class by Les Carter and Frank Minirth. It had interactive exercises to help us understand and modify our own behavior.

10 04 2008
Catie

I hope you don’t mind my asking this, but are you a Christian counselor? I’m in counseling right now (of the Christian variety, since you know, I am a Christian) and it’s very helpful, though at times I’ve wanted to say, “You know, there’s no way that I’m going to be so evolved that every confrontation I ever have — especially with a volatile person — is going to be peaceful and mutually respectful.”

10 04 2008
Matt

Catie, yes I am, and good comment! As a Christian, I fully agree. My point of contention is more with SOME of the things the world of social work/counseling teaches. I can’t help but scoff at a bit of it as I find it extremely unrealistic. However, I don’t think the whole profession is bogus.

11 04 2008
Catie

Well, it’s certainly helped me. 🙂 In the three months that I’ve been in counseling I’ve seen a drastic turn around in my self-talk. I think what counselors do is awesome–even if they don’t hit the nail on the head every time having a safe person to talk to has changed my life.

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