If one comes across a person who has been shot by an arrow, one does not spend time wondering where the arrow came from, or the cast of the individual who shot it, or analyzing what type of wood the shaft is made of, or the manner is which the arrowhead was fashioned. Rather, one should focus on immediately pulling out the arrow. –Shayyammuni, the Buddha
It is a popular notion in some anger management programs to focus on identifying the ‘triggers’ which may cause a person to behave angrily. It is common to observe in anger management process groups, participants explaining how someone “pushed my button”.
This notion takes away the responsibility of the angry perpetrators responsibility for his or her aggression and or violence. We are responsible for our own behavior regardless of the circumstances.
Rather than focusing on the cause of ones anger, it is far more productive to learn to recognize the initial signs of irritation, frustration, discomfort or whatever other emotions precede your anger, labeling these feelings and developing tools to stop the anger from becoming destructive to you or someone else.
While assessments are useful in anger management intervention, rarely is it worthwhile to examine “triggers or buttons” which may lead to anger. Think of a Juke Box, if you push the button for a particular tune and something else plays, over time you will give up pushing that button because you do not hear the tune which you expected. Similarly, if the person who is responding to the “triggers” ceases to respond, that issue is close to resolution.
Anger management assessments should assess for anger, stress, assertive communication and emotional intelligence. Skill enhancement in these four areas should be taught in all anger management classes.
George Anderson, MSW, BCD