(this is raw unedited text transcribed directly from the audio)
How can I control my unjustified anger against my kids?
(this is raw unedited text transcribed directly from the audio)
Dr. Kenner: Frank, you're dealing with some anger?
Dr. Kenner: Tell me what you would like help with.
Frank: What I think the foundation of it is, the general question concerning what I'm recognizing in my life is that things, for example, with my kids or with others, things that can make me angry, I'm recognizing that it's not necessarily about the present circumstance, but it's related to perhaps some unresolved wounds, if you will, from the past, that have gone unresolved. I'm looking for ways. I think recognizing it to begin with is a big step.
Dr. Kenner: A huge step. Honesty involved in saying what you just did - how old are your children?
Frank: I have three teenagers.
Dr. Kenner: If I were one of your kids and you were snapping at me and you looked at me, maybe not in that moment because it's hard to shift gears when it's spilling out, but if you either told them in advance or after the fact and said, "You know something? I've been so hard on you and I owe you a huge apology and the way I want to pay my apology is to work on myself and change so I don't continue doing this to you. I have some unresolved things from my past." If it's, I'm assuming it's some sort of abuse?
Frank: Very severe background.
Dr. Kenner: Very severe. Do they know about it at all?
Dr. Kenner: Your kids know that you were abused?
Frank: I mean, they don't know in detail, but I lived on the streets and whatnot.
Dr. Kenner: You lived on the streets with your parents?
Frank: I did indeed.
Dr. Kenner: So they have a little information. Do they have a few graphic pictures, meaning if my father told me he lived on the streets, I can picture him maybe living on the streets in Florida where it's warm and people are giving him handouts and panhandling. Or I can think of him living on the streets where people are beating him up and he never knows who is going to hit him as a little kid or maybe do a lot worse. Do they know how bad it was for you?
Frank: Well, I don't think they could ever know how bad it was.
Dr. Kenner: That is true. Nor could I.
Frank: I've certainly written about it. I write poetry and I write and what not. They have a pretty good idea.
Dr. Kenner: That's what I mean, if they have at least some context. They don't have to have all the graphic details because it could cause them nightmares. My first point is, if you tell them in advance, "Hey, if I snap, I want you to know that it's not you. That 90 percent of this," if that's the case, "Is that it triggered something in my from my past. I'm working on it. I want to work with you so that you don't take it as if it's you that is the problem. It's me and I'm working on it and it's really hard to do but I want to work with you on this. Maybe we can set up a signal system."
Frank: I think that's good advice. Can I ask you another question, related? That is, do you think that unresolved, deep seeded anger, could lead to severe debilitating depression? And once that anger is resolved, do you think that depression could be also eradicated from one's life?
Dr. Kenner: Well, you know, again I would need some details. But in pattern, I would say absolutely. If you have unresolved emotional issues that are just bottled up in you, that you don't know how to resolve and you don't know -
Frank: Yes. Forgiveness and how would you recommend going about -
Dr. Kenner: Well, forgiveness is a little different. You mean forgiving other people?
Dr. Kenner: Let me deal with the depression question first. And then a few moments on forgiveness, because I know we have limited time. With the depression, depression is - anger, the thought behind anger or the thoughts behind anger are in the ballpark of "It's not fair." "It's not just." It's your injustice detector. Sometimes our anger is off base because we expect the world to be served to us on a silver spoon and we think it's not fair, but really, we need to work. We need to put in effort. Sometimes the anger is totally justified. You were abused and your parents or other people in your life really tried to damage you as a kid, to damage your mind, your self-confidence, your goal setting, and you need to work through that and you don't forget.
Frank: When you say "work through that," could you be a little more specific?
Dr. Kenner: Yes, you need to figure out who, what, when, where, why and how. You need to figure out who did the harm to me, so that you don't draw the conclusion that the whole world is like those abusive people.
Frank: You know what I think? I think that when a child is abused, I think the tremendous recurrent pain occurs not necessarily from what happened ot them - even though what happened to the child is a tragedy - but what they believed about what happened to them.
Dr. Kenner: Yes, that is true too. If they conclude, if they make it an identity issue, that I am a bad person, there are four ways it can damage them. They can conlude a premise about themselves, and a global conclusion about themselves - that I am worthless, unlovable, no good, I am stupid - any of those type of ideas are a tax on who? Themselves. So it can do damage to your self esteem, that you don't feel worthy. It can do damage to your view of other people. The second category, that other people can never be trusted. Other people will always hurt me or other people, I'm totally dependent on them and yet they can bite me anytime. It can do damage that way. It can do damage to your view of the world. What's the use, why bother? You can't get anywhere in life, because everytime you try to get ahead, someone cuts you down. Abuse can do damage to your view of your future. Why bother? That's where you get depressed. People who are depressed have basically said the loss is so great and I don't know how to fix it and I give up.
Frank: How do you overcome that, especially when it's intimacy things?
Dr. Kenner: It's going to hit intimacy greatly. Your honesty is going to work for you and I know we're wrapping up right now. Go to my website, DrKenner.com, and look for the book Mind Over Mood. There are also books - I don't think I have this on the website - but The Anger Control Workbook by Matthew McKay and Peter Rogers that you can look up. There are other anger books too. You want to be able to get the help and cognitivie therapy, you can go to my website and look up the cognitive therapy address and find a cognitive therapist near you. Listen, I wish we had more time. Thank you so much for your call.
Female: We all have these terrible stories to get over.
Male: That's not true. Some of us have great stories. Pretty stories, that take place at lakes with boats and friends and noodle salad. What makes it so hard is not that you had it bad, but that you're that pissed that so many others had it good.
Dr. Kenner: That's from As Good as it Gets, and it sounded like he was getting a little too close to home for her. You want to look in your own life - what do you focus on? What do you weigh as really important? If you seem to be making yourself into a victim, by focusing on, "I've got this ache or pain," or, "Everyting bad happens to me," and there are good things in your life, but you're not taking stock of them, then it's time to sit back and figure out what's going on. What's going on in myself that I'm not weighing the good stuff as important or even as more important that the bad stuff? Assuming that the bad stuff isn't life threatening stuff. You want to make sure you're not making yourself into a victim because it's your own life. It's your only life and you don't want to throw it away. You want to enrich it. It's not that you can switch overnight, it's that you want to do the thinking so that you can genuinely value the positive things more and recognize them when they happen in your life, the good stuff.