A couple was on a verge of divorce. They were convinced they would never be able to save their marriage. The husband had severe anger issues. The wife felt his inherent nature would never change. Despite going through several anger management programmes, he was unable to get a grip on his anger. My first question was why did he want to manage his anger when he needed to get rid of it in the first place?
Over multiple sessions he was made to understand he always used his anger to meet his needs. Hence it had become his core defence and coping mechanisms. It had become a means to protect himself from anything which went against his grain. The same needs could have been met constructively and it was not too late to do that. He needed to meet his needs that protected not just himself but also his wife and his marriage. One way of doing this was by translating his wife’s communication in a far better way. He realized that it was his anger which was responsible for his wife’s behaviour which in turn was triggering his anger. It had become a vicious circle. Slowly, she had grown indifferent and he felt he was not loved and vice versa. The wife was constantly scared of his outbursts and had shut down.
I’m often asked if a person can change their inherent nature, style, behaviour, thoughts? It is very difficult to change if you don’t know how. The key to modifying a specific behavioural pattern is to understand the main drivers that are the root cause of that behaviour. For example, a person may be depressed for years, affecting the marriage. Depression cannot be the core of the person or the problem. One needs to find out the root of the problem which disables his/her ability to feel happy.
Tapping symptoms for solutions is never the right approach. At least I am not a fan of it. Working on the root of the problem by understanding the patterns that were born in the past is a much better alternative. This way the essence of the person remains intact but at the same time, they are equipped to behave in a way that support the core needs of themselves and their partner and create a life to soar but to roar no more.