Jude was what I’d call a ‘silent follower’ of my online content. He messaged me on Facebook one Sunday afternoon. He’d had a particularly intense anger outburst that had caused trouble in his home. “There’s broken glass on the floor. This needs fixing,” he wrote briefly.
This wasn’t an isolated event, as I later came to learn when Jude came in for his first counseling session. He often found himself getting angry over the smallest things, and it had caused many problems in his personal and professional life. He had been fired from his job on two separate occasions, his wife was contemplating leaving, and his 7-year old twins were terrified of him. At first, it was difficult for him to open up and talk about his feelings. This isn’t unusual. In my practice, I interact with many people who struggle with the idea of opening up about their thoughts and feelings. But once they are assured that therapy provides them with a safe space to confront their innermost thoughts, fears and feelings, they open up and begin their healing process. Over time, Jude became more comfortable and we were able to dive deeper into the issues that caused him to reach out for help.
Over the next couple of weeks, we worked on identifying the triggers that caused Jude’s anger outbursts and finding healthy ways for him to cope with his emotions. I guided him on techniques for managing his stress, such as deep breathing exercises and mindfulness practices. Believe me when I say, deep breathing is an underrated way of managing stress. It can lower one’s heart rate in moments when one is worked up.
As Jude continued with therapy, he and the people closest to him started to notice a change in his behavior. He was able to recognize when he was becoming angry and take a step back to calm down before reacting. He also found himself feeling less stressed and more in control of his emotions. His relationships with his family and friends improved. He was able to communicate his feelings in a calm and constructive way, rather than letting his anger take over. He noted improved communication skills and ability to handle stressful situations without losing his cool. It took a while for his children to warm up, understandably, but these changes have been positively impactful in his family life.
It hasn’t been an easy journey, but Jude is proud of the progress he has made in the past 8 months since he first reached out for help. He knows that he needs to continue to work on his anger management, but is now more confident that he is well equipped with the tools to do so. We do touch base every now and then, and I am positive that he can completely transform his life with the skills we have discussed in our sessions. Being able to acknowledge his struggles with anger has also helped Jude become more self-aware. That reminds me of the saying that goes, “You cannot see your reflection in boiling water. Similarly, you cannot see the truth in a state of anger.”