Anger: You don't have buttons

Published on February 16, 2014

Many people struggle with what they call an “anger management problem.” What people really mean is that they do not know how to choose differently, in a moment. They are struggling with solving what they ideally want or think should be with what is not happening in reality, and they choose anger as a best solution to get what they want. Anger, however, if it is over-used or misused can have negative consequences for relationships with spouses, children and co-workers.

First of all, anger is a normal healthy emotion. It is one of our native emotions; we don't have to learn it. Have ever seen how angry a new-born baby gets when they are hungry! So anger is a healthy feedback mechanism that tells us something isn't right or something needs to be changed. The problem that most people have, is how they DEAL with and respond to this information.

In our heads we have ideal pictures of how we would like things, people, places and so on to be. We have millions of pictures in our head that represents our “Ideal”. Then we have reality. When our ideal pictures and reality are in alignment we are happy and content. However, when our ideal pictures and reality are out of alignment we will experience a feedback mechanism we call anger to alert us to this fact so we can do something about it. The initial reaction to our ideal picture and reality being out of alignment is anger and outside of our control. HOWEVER, this involuntary reaction only lasts 5 seconds to 7 seconds, anything we do after that initial shock or assessment is by CHOICE.

So some people choose angering behaviours as their best attempt to get their ideal pictures and reality in alignment. Many people will say “oh my kids push my buttons and I just explode” or “My spouse really knows how to push my buttons and I just lose it.”

Here's a reality check: you are not an elevator, you do not have buttons, your buttons are not being pushed, and you are choosing anger as the best solution in that moment to get what you want. It is  NOT CAUSED by those around you. Instead you are reacting to them with this chosen behaviour.

Often people who use anger to get what they want learn where they can get away with it and where they can't. So anger is a learned behaviour that gets reinforced by people responding to the angering person and teaching them that anger works on them.

People who have situational anger problem as opposed to charactorlogical issues (these are psychopaths who use anger everywhere and may be even use violence indiscriminately) use it very specifically. Often they'll use it with their children or their spouse or even on members of their family of origin. They learn that the cost of anger is worth paying to get what they want.

People who use anger to get what they want with the people they love start seeking help when those people stop accepting their choice of anger. There are better choices one can learn how to do in situations where you are not getting what you want or things are not going the ideal way for you. Most people do not know how to do this.

If your choice of anger is getting in the way of important relationships with your spouse or kids, ask yourself if you know how to fix the problem. If the things you have been trying are not working it may be best to get help. A professionally trained counsellor has tools and skills they can teach you to make better choices. Call us at 90307239 or email at to learn more.

Category(s):Abuse / Abuse Survivor Issues, Anger Management, Marital Counseling, Men's Issues, Mental Health in Asia, Women's Issues, Workplace Issues

Written by:

Tammy M. Fontana, MS NCC CTRT Sex Therapist USA

Ms. Fontana is a relationship counsellor specializing in helping people with their relationships whether it is dating, marriage, parenting or with their extended family. Her clients call her approach practical and found solutions to their problems. Ms. Fontana has obtained her Master Degree in Mental Health counselling from the United States and is a USA Nationally Certified Counsellor. She is also a Certified Choice Theory Reality Therapist and is USA trained Sex Therapist.

Tammy M. Fontana, MS NCC CTRT Sex Therapist USA belongs to All in the Family Counselling Centre, PTE LTD in Singapore