Dr. Puff trains people in Orange County through seminars and individual therapy in the skills of anger management using the highly effective Anger Work methods developed by Dr. Puff. This article discusses who can benefit from doing Anger Work, the two essential keys to doing successful Anger Work, and specific hands-on techniques for anger management. For a more detailed handling of these subjects, a free download of Dr. Puff’s book Anger Work: How To Express Your Anger and Still Be Kind is available in both print and audio formats.
What is Anger Work:
Anger work is a psychological tool which is used to heal from past and present emotional pains. The basic premise of Anger Work is to let go of emotionally painful events by focusing on them and expressing anger about the pain. By focusing on the trauma over and over, the pain will gradually go away, never to affect you again. (Specific, hands-on techniques are discussed later in this article)
A comparison can be made between our physical health and our emotional health. When the body experiences a severe laceration or other injury, if the wound is left unattended it will get infected. Eventually, it will fester and may even turn into gangrene, a life threatening condition. If, however, the wound is cleansed thoroughly and allowed to heal completely, all that is left is a scar to remind the victim of the event.
Likewise, when an emotional wound is sustained by the psyche, if it is not addressed, and feelings are repressed, it will fester as surely as any physical wound. As a result it will start to affect other areas of the person’s life, just as infection spreads to other parts of the body. Since abusive people and emotional pain are part of everyday life, the person who does not learn to deal appropriately with them will start to experience a cumulative negative effect. Eventually the individual’s overall emotional and psychological health will be at risk.
If, however, the emotional wound is cleansed well, and allowed to heal completely, all that is left is a memory. This memory, like an old scar, does not hurt. It becomes no more than a record of your personal history, an experience which you have learned from. Whether you are in your middle age, adolescence or teenage, anger management through Anger Work is the cleansing process that can bring this healing about.
Essential Keys To Successful Anger Work:
There are two essential keys to making your Anger Work effective. These are:
- Do not take out or “act-out” your anger on yourself.
- Do not act out your anger on others (this includes animals.)
Part of the definition of Anger Work is that it does NOT involve acting-out your anger at others or self. So if you’re doing that, you’re not doing Anger Work, you’re just getting mad. But even when you’re not in the midst of an Anger Work session it’s important to observe these two principles all day, every day to the best of your ability. If you do, you will find that your Anger Work sessions are very productive. You will see definite progress in your anger management because you will be working through your existing issues and avoiding creating new issues. If you do not follow these principles it will inhibit your progress greatly.
Perhaps this analogy will help you. Think of all the negative experiences you need to heal from, such as abuses, losses, and failures, as being a pond that you have to empty in order for the grass to grow there. For some people it’s more like a puddle or a lake depending on the amount and severity of the emotional wounds. But regardless of how much water there is to bail out, the principle works the same for everyone.
Every time you do Anger Work it is like bailing water out of that pond. Every time you act-out your anger on yourself or others, you are adding to the amount of water in the pond. As you can see, doing Anger Work is beneficial even if you are still struggling with learning not to act-out anger on others. However, if you really want to see the maximum benefits you’ve got to stop letting more water get into the pond. That means you need to break the bad habit of taking out your anger on others, even when you’ve got good reason to be mad.
Dr. Puff had been in practice for a number of years before he realized how critical these two points were. He recommended Anger Work to all of his clients, but the results varied. Everyone benefited to some degree, but some clients would heal at a very fast rate while others would improve much more slowly. He came to realize that there was a pattern. The more closely the person followed these two principles, the more quickly he or she got better. Doing “work” means that you are taking steps toward a goal. If you ignore either of these principles then you are not doing Anger Work as we recommend, you are simply getting angry. Instead of taking steps toward your goal of wholeness, you may be taking a step back. We cannot overemphasize how critical it is that you learn to follow these two guidelines.
For a more in-depth explanation of the importance of these two rules, get a free download Dr. Puff’s book “Anger Work: How To Express Your Anger and Still Be Kind.”