Counselling in Chichester &
West Sussex

Anger and Frustration – How to respond to to lockdown, covid and everyone else!

It has been a difficult few months for many people and sometimes those frustrations have boiled over. Irritation at lockdown restrictions has reportedly seen a rise in difficult domestic incidents. Anger also seems to be an increasing feature of public life this summer. In a few well publicised cases violence has spilled over into the streets. Some of this occurred when the Black Lives Matter campaign marches were distorted by violence perpetrated by splinter groups. Media has reported incidents of unrest and mayhem often accompanied by imagery of angry faces distorted in fury. On other occasions some unlicensed street events provoked confrontation.

Yet rather than witnessing a seething summer of rage an alternative perspective could be to applaud the very limited level of civil unrest.  Within the UK the abrupt imposition of a countrywide form of house arrest was accepted and broadly adhered to across city, town and country, north and south, for a period of four months or so. Large demonstrations in support of disadvantaged groups have been for the most part peaceful. Conflicting viewpoints have been voiced across a virtual barricade of historical symbols with arguments mainly confined to discussion and debate.

This suggests that the extent of civil unrest can sometimes be over reported by a media hungry for headlines. Conversely it may be that references to domestic abuse situations has actually been underplayed. People have been forced to spend long periods together in situations which for some households will be at best crowded and at worst claustrophobic. In those circumstances there may again be some surprise that there has not been an epidemic of unrest.

Yet unlike the anger on the streets which is clearly visible, many domestic situations of antagonism and strife will remain hidden. Finding a way to give voice to what is happening at home may be difficult enough in normal times. When mobility is restricted and visits for example to clubs, associations, friends or health care workers such as GPs are curtailed that reporting challenge is intensified.  There is also a concern that just like the violence, there can be a long incubation period to family strife with a reaction still to come.

One option when approaching the issue of difficult family situation is to consider talking with a counsellor or therapist. This can provide a channel for one or more members of the family group to take that simmering anger or seeing resentments into another place but one which will be contained and private.

When anger is clearly bubbling to the surface there needs to be some form of outlet. If not there will be suppression but at the cost of an eventual outpouring which may take a harmful and at worst a destructive line.  This can be a particularly challenging issue when looking at righteous anger. This is the anger which is viewed by the perpetrator to be wholly appropriate given the wrong that has been committed.  A note dealing with this specific phenomena has been published in the Counselling Directory – see page link

https://www.counselling-directory.org.uk/memberarticles/counselling-and-confrontation-how-should-we-express-our-anger

Frustrations behind the close doors of lockdown can also magnify thoughts around the disappointments or sadness at what has occurred in life.  When forced to look inwardly for a protracted period there may be a disturbing focus on what has not occurred, on what has not been achieved. Thoughts may turn to depression with an increasing drift across those dreams which have not been realised, with dissatisfaction at that which took the place of what should have been. Again in those situations the counselling room can also provide a safe space for exploring in a confidential setting this sense of loss.  Although the therapist cannot alter what has occurred counselling can provide an opportunity to look at re-framing some of the negative thoughts which may in lockdown have become so difficult to shift.

Therapy is not a panacea for all of the emotional challenges created by lockdown. It can however be a safe and secure space in which to voice those concerns about, loss and disappointments.  It is a place in which expression of anger, anxiety, frustration and disappointment can be heard respectfully.  There may be questioning and challenge but in a supportive way. If in lockdown others have stopped listening, turned away and lost patience the counsellor will not.

Covid has focussed attention on physical concerns but good emotional health is also vital to our sense of wellbeing.  Lockdown may be gradually easing but the emotional strains of these past few months will play out for some time. The counselling room can be a place in which the process of discharging that emotional build up can occur. It can be a useful place to look at what needs to change, to plan and to dream anew. That post lockdown world could be so very different for society, for individuals and also for you.