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5 Incredible Anger Tips the Hulk Never Used

Anger Management NYC

5 Incredible Anger Tips the Hulk Never Used

Posted by larrytorrent in Anger, Anger Management Group 12 Apr 2012

Dr. David Banner, as many of us know, is a mild mannered doctor who when injured or pushed past his limit turns into the raging Incredible Hulk.  The image of the Hulk has become an archetypical icon with respect to anger in our culture.

5 Incredible Tips:

HURT is what usually causes anger.

UNDERSTAND how your expectations are influencing your frustration.

LEARNING what defended parts of you are present in any given situation.

KNOWING, that just breathing, can relax your nervous system and bring unmanageable emotions to a more manageable level.

SPEAKING about your anger helps give a voice and vocabulary to what hurts you.

Many of the men that attend my Men’s Anger Management groups at Midtown Marriage and Family Therapy describe their attempts to manage anger with references to the Incredible Hulk.  They use terms like; over powering force, uncontrollable feeling or knee jerk response.  All of these feelings and reactions to stressful or hurtful circumstances have been depicted in the comic books, T.V. series and movies.  In all of these genres, the good doctor Banner is somehow injured, igniting his temper and the frustration that lives within him.  In turn, he transforms into the embodiment of rage exacting his fury on his assailants.

As exemplified by the Hulk, anger is most often a secondary response to something else.  That something else is usually an injury or a wound.  The problem for men in our society that struggle with anger is that we are not given the skills or understanding to effectively deal with anger.  Keys to managing anger start with knowing that anger is not a primary response and that our expectations tend to fuel frustration.  Furthermore, understanding the parts of ourselves (e.g. the defensive or protective parts) that come up when we are angry is pivotal to anger management.   In addition, learning to breathe into and to talk through anger are effective techniques in dealing with our rage.

The five incredible anger management techniques the Hulk never used:

HURT is what usually causes anger.

In the therapeutic community anger is widely recognized as a secondary response to an injury.  In the case of our Dr. David Banner the injuries he received caused his rage.  In life the injuries we sustain tend to be the precursors to our anger.  Angry reactions are in the moment; direct responses to situations such as fear or hurt.  Our responses to these injuries are an attempt to try to manage the pain of our wounds.  The hurt feelings we experience are often obscured by the secondary anger response.  Like Dr. Banner, it is essential that we understand that if we are angry we are probably hurt.  If we can begin to recognize our wounds, we can begin to process our feelings.  This processing gets us out of reactionary responses and into choice about the way we respond to others.

UNDERSTAND how your expectations are influencing your anger.

Expectations play a big part in the way we move through the world. To a large degree our expectations determine our emotional state. In the T.V. series, Dr. Banner’s expectation of life and of others continued to get him into hot water as he expected those around him to behave as he did. Our expectations set up the judge and jury on how we feel about our lives, ourselves and how we experience others. If we learn about our expectations and where they come from, then we can find ways to deal with them in a healthy manner. If we can learn to expect that other people might not behave according to our well laid plans, then we can take our power back and have more choice in how we view and interact with our world.

LEARNING what defended parts of you are present in any given situation.

When we have been injured, humiliated, frightened, or shamed in the past, internal parts of us will hold the feelings and memories from those experiences.  When something happens that reminds us of one of these injurous incidents we can quickly be activated into old response patterns designed to protect us from being hurt again.  The Incredible Hulk is a metaphor for this very human experience. The Hulk is a protective part of Dr. Banner that comes to his aide whenever he is vulnerable. Like the Hulk, our protective parts come to our rescue as well,  however, protector parts can carry with them rage and anger.  These parts often exact their protective energies indiscriminately causing unintended harm. Becoming aware of the parts of us that become activated around threatening situations is a valuable key to managing anger.  If we feel judgmental, remote or frustrated a protective part of us may be present and an anger response will often follow.  Bringing awareness to the protective or wounded parts of us that are present in the moment puts us in a place of choice in how we react to others and our world.

KNOWING, that just breathing, can bring unmanageable emotions to a more manageable level.

Taking a deep intentional breath is one of the simplest yet most powerful anger management techniques I know.  Stopping and taking a deep belly breath can help to reset our internal gauge on our anger taking our rage from an out control 10 or 11 down to a more manageable 4 to 6.  If the Hulk could have remembered to stop and take a breath during one of his out of control moments, he might have been able to learn to control the emotional flooding that plagued him.  Uncontrollable anger is at its core a flood of emotion.  These floods cause us to shut down, become less open and often create a defensive or fight response.   In these fight responses our nervous system has detected a perceived threat and is taking measures to protect us. Breathing intentionally sooths our activated nervous systems, staving off the oncoming emotional flood and helps to prevent angry outbursts.  Though simple, remembering to breathe deeply is a major key to anger management and the good news is the breath is always with us.

SPEAKING about your anger helps give a voice and vocabulary to what hurts you.

Creating a vocabulary around our anger is one of the most important tools in anger management for men.  In my experience in treating anger, men tend to have few words at their disposal that express their feelings.  Typically, men are able to talk about being angry, frustrated or pissed off, however they seem to have a dearth of words to accurately describe the hurt feelings underneath their anger.  In the example of the Hulk, Dr. Banner also could not speak about his anger.  His anger was his secret and his shame.  He tried in vain to keep his struggles quiet and to himself, ultimately making him the pariah of his community.  The experience of anger management for men in our society is reflected in the story of the Hulk.  Men who don’t learn to express their feelings in a constructive way are often exiled from their families and their communities.  The building of a vocabulary around feelings is part of the treatment plan for the men in my practice.  The constructive expression of feelings takes our anger out of shadow, absolves us of our shame thus helping us to reintegrate into our families and communities.

The Incredible Hulk exemplifies how men’s anger is both held and experienced in our society.  Holding the realities of anger management up to the light of the archetype of the Hulk, shows us that a few mindfully utilized techniques can yield incredible results when trying to control anger.