An Anger Contract
Whenever you write stuff down it gives you a better opportunity to understand it, and an anger contract is a technique used by many counsellors to help those tormented by toxic anger. It is very compatible with keeping an anger journal. It gives clients a sense of control before the anger erupts and is a very simple and brief contract that they must sign. It might run like this –
I will take responsibility for my behaviour and promise that I will vent my anger appropriately. This includes non-violent and non-hurtful ways of expressing my anger. I will tell people that I am angry rather than berating them. I will take every opportunity of properly communicating with my partner or with others to prevent an outpouring of anger. I recognise that I may need help from those I trust to help me overcome the anger that binds me.
You have already seen how some children learn that anger is the only way to communicate, and bring this into adulthood with disastrous consequences for a calm relationship. If both parties can stand back, check their thinking, and are willing to sit down and look at their relationship, they can find a way to safely process the anger. Gary Chapman suggests six ways of processing anger. He suggests that the first step is to acknowledge the presence of anger and not to condemn yourself for experiencing it. The next step is a vital one, i.e. letting you partner know that you feel angry, rather than suppressing it, leading to passive aggressive, silent rage. There must also be some kind of acceptance by both that it is not right to vent anger on the other. Such venting will invite retaliation and ongoing conflict, so having a discussion on the source of the anger may help to alleviate it. Recognising the source is important and may call for an apology from one partner. When the anger has dissolved, try and return to loving ways. There is a caveat, however. If your partner has a high controlling impulse there is little you can do to remove the anger from the relationship, and you will have to deal with your own retaliatory anger.
Extract from Understanding and Healing the Hurts of Childhood. Publication 2018
THERAPISTS IN TIPPERARY
PSYCHOTHERAPISTS IN TIPPERARY
DEATH OF A CHILD
ABUSE AND DOMESTIC VIOLENCE