Anger Management - Picking up the Pieces

Anger Management - Picking up the Pieces

by James A. Baker


anger managementFor most of my life I have had an anger problem. I can see now that I was really an anger addict; I just didn't want to admit it. It was always easy to find something or someone to blame for my outbursts. However, about six months ago, I almost lost my family and my job in the same week because of my stupid, irrational behavior. I either had to get well or get lost. So I knuckled under and went to counseling. Part of my treatment plan was to take an anger management class. It really helped me, and now I am able to manage my anger in a much more healthy, helpful way. I wish I could say it has fixed everything at home, but it hasn't, at least not yet. In spite of all my assurances that I have changed, my two kids still walk on eggshells around me, and my wife still won't talk to me about some things. When she has something uncomfortable to bring up she sends me a text or an email, instead discussing it face to face. What can I do to heal my family? I think I am better now, but what difference does that make if my family stays broken?

Walking Wounded in Wisconsin

Anger Management Programs - Picking up the Pieces

Dear Wounded:
You have touched on one of the biggest problems in recovering from any addictive behavior. So much attention - mostly negative - is focused on the addict that the pain being experienced by the rest of the family gets ignored. Once trust is broken the process of restoring it is long and painful. Your family would like to believe you are better, but they have been living in fear too long and they are not going to completely let their guard down for a long time. I often recommend family therapy in situations like this, to help everyone talk about their fears and feelings and lay out new boundaries.

In the meantime, I can suggest a couple of strategies that might help pick up the pieces and lay the foundation for healing your family. It involves the simple process of making amends by offering simple, heartfelt apologies to each person in your family for each time your inappropriate anger wounded or offended them in some way. I know this sounds crazy, but trust me, a blanket apology for years of bad behavior simply won't cut it. It is important to your family that you demonstrate that you understand precisely when you hurt them, how much you hurt them, and why it hurt them. They need to know you “get it.” After you apologize, you will also need to explore ways to make amends to them. The more you are willing to humble yourself and sincerely work to make things right, the more likely it is that they will gradually let you back in to their hearts.

Anger Management Programs - Picking up the Pieces

The process for doing this involves three general steps:

Compile the list
This will take some time and it won't be pleasant, but sit down and think through your interactions with each of your family members and identify as many episodes as you can where you know your anger was hurtful to them. You can record it like this:
When did it happen
Where did it happen
What I did or said that still requires an apology
What I now realize about how it hurt them
Face the Music by using some combination of these sentences:
“I am really sorry.”
“It was all my fault.”
“Please forgive me."
"What can I do to make it up to you?”
Craft the response
You can use these five bullet points to create an outline to guide you as you craft your apologies. Don't try to make this into something complicated. It is really simple. Just name the place and date where it happened, identify each of your behaviors that caused pain to those involved, and use any or several of the phrases above. Check out the example below:

Cynthia, I have been really thinking about what happened last year on our trip. I am really sorry for the way I yelled at you and the kids at the restaurant that night. It was all my fault. Could you please forgive me for embarrassing you and hurting you feelings?

Anger Management Programs - Picking up the Pieces

Be sure that you ask, “What can I do to make it up to you,” for each offense before moving on to the next one. Another version of this question is: “What could I do right now that would help you the most?” Then, do everything in your power to honor their request.

Keep your promises

Nothing helps build - or rebuild - trust like making promises and keeping them. Even in families, people don't trust you because of what you say; they trust you because of what you DO. So, when they tell you something you can do that would help them the most, or ask for something that would make it up to them, make a promise based on what you know you can do and then do it. Don't make excuses and don't drag your feet. Everyone is watching you.

It's the thought that counts.

Proceed carefully here and don't push. Your counselor could coach you in how to do this. I can't promise that your family will accept your apologies and everyone will live happily ever after. But that is not really the purpose of making amends. It is just the right thing to do. What you are really trying to accomplish here is to do something constructive with your words instead of causing more pain. All you can do is practice humility and offer a sincere apology. It may take a while for things to begin to smooth out.

There is always the possibility that too much damage has been done over too many years for these relationships to be completely restored, even after hard work like this. But doing the work is still important. By facing the facts and making amends here and now, you will greatly improve your chances for happiness and satisfaction in the future. Good luck.


Welcome to the Anger Management Training Institute! We offer a variety of Court Certified Anger Management Classes which include our Anger Programs and Online Courses, Seminars, and our award winning Online Class to help people just like you overcome Anger Problems through the simple but effective Anger Management Techniques which are practiced and learned in James A. Baker’s Best Selling Book “The Anger Busting Workbook” by Bayou Publishing. Our fast and effective Anger Courses, Classes, Workshops, and Anger Management Seminars have helped over 60,000 individuals just like you resolve their anger management therapy issues and regain complete control of their lives. Get fast Anger Management Help.

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