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Anger Management & Relationships

Anger can be a huge problem in relationships. This episode asks what’s important about anger management for relationships? Anger can be incredibly self absorbed & ugly. It’s easy to fall down the rabbit hole of “I’m right” & needing to win. We all want the power to control & be the Top Dog. So listen to this episode to learn how to reign it in. Interview with Matthew Plotner.

My guest today is Mathew Plotner and he has a unique perspective on anger management. I’m so glad he was able to join us. In 2009, he was arrested after he and his wife got into a loud argument and he spent 24 hours in jail. They required a 12-week class and he stayed almost three years, which included volunteering, ending up teaching the class when the instructor was away. He has two podcasts going that anger management crap and is it philosophy and he is now an anger management coach.

Matthew: The value of anger management is immense. First of all, it completely changed my relationship with my wife. I went from being the jerk control freak that had to monitor every move she made it to the point that I used to track how much gas was in the car, when I go to work. Yeah, that was me. I hate to admit it, but it was me.
Rhoda: I would have dumped your butt.

Matthew: I can’t believe she didn’t to be honest. I don’t know why she didn’t. I don’t know why she put up with it and I’m glad she did. We’ve got an amazing relationship now and I whole heartedly credit all of that to what I’ve learned and what I’ve found through anger management and all the different steps I’ve taken in my life to get to the point that I’m at now.
Rhoda: That’s great. It really is. What are the three key ways to look at anger management that you feel would help the people in my audience?

Mathew Platner: The first one is always don’t be afraid of anger. Don’t try to suppress it. Don’t deny it. Allow it to be it. It has a purpose. It has a reason for being there. Allow it to do its job. The second one I always think is, we spend so much time trying to deny it that we forget that other things are underlying that emotion. There are other things that are causing the anger. Anger is never a primary emotion. There’s always something behind it. Whether that’s fear, shame, guilt, whatever, there’s always something behind it. So take a moment and figure out what that is. And for me, the third has always been to acknowledge that there is a need, feeding that fear, shame, guilt, whatever, and to find what that need is and that takes a lot release for me anyway. It takes a lot of work to get to that level of the need.

Rhoda: Do you have any suggestions for slowing anger down? Because someone in my office today who I told about your podcast, I was saying, I feels so out of control. How do I interrupt and how do I slow it down?

Mathew Plotner: I used to love hearing that in my classes. It most guys would come in and we’ll talk about that moment that they snapped, then they are out of control and they saw or red or whatever way they described this out of control feeling and I whole heartedly believe that there was no such thing as out of controller or seeing red or losing it or whatever you want to call it. It doesn’t exist. We all do those things that we want to do, whether we subconsciously or consciously talk ourselves through it. We all do those things. I think the most important thing is to acknowledge the idea that thought is there. I remember one time my wife was doing something with a friend.

I was working third shift and the whole way home, I’m telling myself, if she’s not there, this is what I’m going to do.
And I did exactly what I consciously said I was going to do. I don’t remember what it was now, but it was not a pretty thing. But now I’m able to consciously go, no, that’s not a healthy idea. That’s not a healthy belief. That’s not a healthy way of approaching the situation. I think now I could stop and I will listen to a Brenee Brown talk a couple of days ago and I love what she said. I think we have to acknowledge the story we’re telling ourselves about what’s going on.

Rhoda: I totally agree with you. I think that’s one of the problems with the whole culture right now is we’re so committed to the story we tell ourselves and without incorporating a different point of view or a different set of circumstances and we really get very caught up in love with that story.

Mathew Plotner: Yeah. Completely. I used to think my story was the only story and anybody else’s story was just wrong. And now my wife and I have been starting since we watched that episode or that talk. We’ve been doing that to each other. When we get angry or something’s going on, we say to each other, you know, this is the story I’m telling myself about the situation. And it’s created this immense intimacy between us, because now I’m able to see, okay, well, when this happens, this is what’s going on in her head. These are the thoughts she’s having and now I can connect her behavior to what’s going on inside her head and she’s able to do the same.

Rhoda: Yes. That is a wonderful technique. I think that that’s a great way to begin. So what helps someone who’s favorite emotion is anger? What helps them change or decide it’s important to get a grip?

Matthew: I think you first have to acknowledge that you’re not that angry person. You are a loving, compassionate, empathetic, caring person who has just lost touch with that. And that’s okay. We have to be able to get back to that by acknowledging emotions and acknowledging the needs. I know as men we are very terrified. I don’t know why, but we’re terrified of emotions. They are this taboo thing that we’ve been taught that if you’re an emotional person, you’re either gay or you’re a woman or you’re both, God forbid, and we have disconnected ourselves from any emotion besides happy, hungry, Horny, angry. And we need to get back to that vocabulary of the wide breadth of emotions.

Rhoda: Yeah. That’s true. And one of the things that you and I had talked about was… in a previous recording attempt was a feeling vocabulary word list, which I think I suggest to people printed out, it’s on the emotions page of my website therapyideas.net and print out the two pages and even just zoom through when you get home, pick five or six that fit, then make sentences with those emotions to practice with your partner.

I think a lot about how sometimes for some people anger is protecting pride, that there is a feeling of being squashed or stepped on and that sense of pride is like it erupts into anger, would you agree that that’s a factor?

Mathew: I think pride and ego are definitely a factor and an anger. I think without those two things; I think anger doesn’t exist. I think they are the byproduct of trying to protect your pride and trying to make sure that your ego is intact. And I think most people either would agree or would it reluctantly agree that men are very fragile in our ego and I think that’s why we gravitate towards anger as badly and as quickly as we do, because our ego is so easily bruised that we feel this incredible need to protect it at all costs.

Rhoda: And I think sometimes women can underestimate that bruising or woundedness and that’s something I’ve experienced in my counseling office.

Matthew Plotner’s Website For His Podcast: That Anger Management Crap

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