By CJ Puotinen
Anger, the experts tell us, is more than an out-of-control emotion that disrupts lives and relationships. Everyone understands how anger can lead to road rage, domestic abuse, and legal problems -- but few of us appreciate how damaging anger is to our physical health.
Further, very few people yet understand how easily anger can be managed and dissipated through Emotional Freedom Techniques (EFT).
Our emotions trigger the release of a variety of chemicals that cause physical responses throughout the body. The more often "anger chemicals" are released, the more their release is reinforced, so that anger becomes an automatic response.
Some of us never outgrow the temper tantrums we had as toddlers. Psychiatrists and psychologists refer to uncontrollable childhood or adolescent anger and aggression as "disruptive disorders," which can lead to school suspensions, frequent fights, drug use, illegal activities, hostility, and violence.
These same behaviors often continue through adulthood, where they contribute to injuries and serious illnesses. Some medical researchers attribute cancer and depression to the depletion of energy that occurs when anger is directed inward, while they attribute heart disease, high blood pressure, and other conditions to anger directed toward others.
Counselors usually turn to a patient's personal and medical history in order to study the psychiatric disorders, medical or biological factors, undiagnosed learning disabilities, attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), drug or alcohol abuse, past traumas, and other environmental factors that may have contributed to the problem.
They use crisis management, time-outs, prescription drugs, and other prevention skills in combination with individual counseling, family counseling, and group therapy to help hot-heads of all ages bring their anger under control.
These are laudable goals, and these methods work well for some people -- with time, practice, and perseverance. For many who use these approaches, even those who do so successfully, anger management is a full-time job.
Wouldn't it be wonderful if something could neutralize the anger reaction so that it doesn't even occur? Then instead of living a reactive life, in which all they do is react to situations around them, people could reach their goals without being distracted by things that would normally send them off in a rage.
For a small but growing number of anger management students around the world, that possibility is not a remote daydream, it's an everyday reality.
And instead of the slow progress and low success rates claimed by conventional therapies, the procedure they use works fast and claims an 80 percent success rate. Their secret is a simple method of tapping with the fingertips on key acupuncture points, an unlikely sounding protocol that addresses the underlying causes of frustration, anger, and impatience.
Their method is the Emotional Freedom Techniques, or EFT. It is an emotional version of acupuncture except that needles aren't necessary. Anger, as it turns out, involves a disruption in the free flow of our energy meridians.
The EFT tapping process balances this interrupted energy and, once done, anger subsides.
Mair Llewellyn-Edwards, a counselor in the U.K., has helped clients deal with all kinds of emotional stresses using EFT, but one of her most interesting cases involves "Susan" (name changed for privacy reasons), who wanted to control the anger that plagued her. It had caused problems in school and socially, and she wanted to give it up -- but she didn't know how.
Susan had never learned coping strategies other than anger, for violent temper tantrums were her family's normal response to life's challenges. Those episodes stretched back through generations, involving her mother, grandmother, and great-grandmother, all of whom were famous for their tempers.
Everyone told Susan that this anger was a permanent part of her personality, that it was in her genes. While she questioned that assumption, she was concerned about her children "inheriting" the family's anger streak.
Over a two-month period, Susan diligently applied EFT by tapping on her face and torso while thinking about past experiences that fueled her anger, including childhood sexual abuse.
Like many, Susan practiced EFT using founder Gary Craig's videotaped seminars, and she was greatly helped by tapping along with Veronica, a woman featured on a seminar DVD who had been raped by her father. "As Susan tapped herself," says Llewelly-Edwards, "she was healed just as Veronica had healed.
"Through this simple procedure she received wonderful results. She reported that following this experience, she frequently used EFT. Whenever she noticed any negative charge on any feelings, she tapped them away. Two months of working with EFT freed her of a lifetime of anger and blame."
When Llewellyn-Edwards was invited to meet Susan's family, she was told by everyone that a profound transformation had taken place. Susan not only stopped feeling angry, she taught EFT to her family so they could reduce their own angry reactions.
"Her mother and grandmother were both going through ongoing healing with Susan," says Llewellyn-Edwards. "Grandma summed up her own changes by saying, 'I now no longer blame others or myself. Tapping has let me let go.'"
In addition to reducing or eliminating rage and anger, EFT has been a consistently effective healing tool for hundreds of other physical, mental and emotional ailments. For more information, visit the EFT Web site and its numerous success stories regarding fears, phobias, emotional traumas and physical ailments.
While a complete description of EFT is beyond the scope of this article, you can learn the basics from the free EFT Get Started Package on the EFT Web site. This includes a free download of the 79-page EFT Manual. Those wishing to save time and dive right in can get the affordable five-star training DVDs.
Please consult qualified health professionals before putting EFT into practice for yourself or others.