Most people tend to think that coming to counselling to work on anger means that as client and counsellor we will work on ways to “push back” or tame the angry feelings. This isn’t really the case, and often it is more complex for female clients.
Nice girls don’t get angry
The reality is that as women, we are conditioned from an early age to suppress angry emotions or displays of rage. While we often accept a small toddler boy throwing his truck across the room in frustration, we don’t seem to extend the same tolerance to female children. In fact, female anger is discouraged quite early on in life, and is often described by caregivers as “not nice”.
What’s causing the anger
Women are under more pressure than ever before to work, mother and manage households – leading to increased frustration and pent up rage. With this ever increasing load, women often don’t take the time or have the inclination to stop and reflect what could be contributing to how they are feeling.
If a client comes in to counselling worried about their anger, I often try to “reframe” the anger – so it gets treated as a messenger signalling that something is wrong, rather than its usual label as a ‘negative emotion’.
The blame game
Women in particular often struggle to identify that they are feeling angry, and identify more readily with resentment or overwhelm, for example.
Others get caught up in a cycle of blame, where they might blame how they feel on their partner, or snap at their loved ones – sometimes it is easier to lash out than deal with feeling angry. And then the guilt comes after that.
Some clients have developed coping mechanisms to squash their anger – sometimes through drinking or eating to excess.
Get back in control of anger
Different strategies help different people so it’s about getting to know your anger and your triggers in a safe, counselling relationship. Some clients obtain huge relief from private journal writing, while others realise that their old people-pleasing ways just don’t suit them anymore.
Don’t hesitate to get in touch if I can help you with any of the above 🙂
See also: Why am I so angry?