Activate in case of fucking up (What to do when anger is ripping apart your relationships with your loved ones) An interview with Matthew Plotner

“Darling is not me it’s you”, is not just a good name for a book but it’s every angry person’s mantra. Ever met someone who always says the other person is to blame for when he/she gets angry, and never takes any kind of responsibility for their part on the whole thing? Yep, the mean and angry ones, I’m sure you know one.  In today’s interview I had the pleasure of speaking to Matthew Plotner, a former preacher of that mantra, who is here today to tell us everything; from how he finally admitted to having a problem, to selling his business to spend more time with his kids and family.

Matt is the host and producer of both “That Anger Management Crap” and “Is it Philosophy” podcast. A former business owner turned to anger coach/guru, he sold everything in pursuit of a new mission, that of helping others who just like he once was, are blind to the consequences of their anger.

With a quick prison stop and an episode of domestic violence, his is a story of hope and responsibility. One that shows us that no matter how many wrongs we’ve done and how horribly mistaken we were, we can always turn things around and become a better version of ourselves, the one that our family and loved ones deserve.

A tale of anger issues and the responsible man who was able to beat it. Let’s dig in.

PART I: THE STORY

Me: When did you start feeling this was something you wanted to do (your project of helping people with anger management)?

Matthew: It came about after I went to jail for a domestic violence incident. When I got out and went to court I was ordered to take an anger management class. I just so happen to luck into a great program with a wonderful instructor who himself had been arrested and gone through the system several years before. He really helped to open my eyes and I really loved him and the program for it. I stayed with him and taught off and on for a couple of years before going through the process of getting my own program with the state of Georgia. I have found out through this whole process that I really love to help others. I find it so rewarding.

Me: That must have been a very stressful time for you. There are a lot of interesting things here. For one, forcing people to take therapy don’t work, so when you said it worked for you, it was because you allowed it and did your part. You got help, but the therapy worked because you were responsible.

Yeah, that is completely true. I had started the process while I was in jail. That night I wrote several letters to Chrissy, my wife. I thought for sure I would not see her when I got out. I really wanted to change that night and when I went to the class I was nervous and scared but also determined. It was not easy.

Me: The other elements I find interesting are the different types of anger.  You are talking about domestic violence, and some people might be thinking “well, I have never punched someone, so maybe I don’t have anger issues”, but you know, anger has different faces. What should people consider when doubting if they actually have an anger problem?

Matthew: Look at what your actions have cost you. Are you satisfied with the people in your life? Do you feel as though you are able to connect with others? If not then it might be because of anger. The angry person never sees their anger. They feel justified and like they are only holding people responsible for their actions. The thing I would always say in class when someone would say they are not angry is “well, how is your behavior working for you?” Most would step back and go it’s not really. They would open to help and a new way to find a way to meet their needs.

Me: Did you always know that you wanted to have a podcast? Why did you choose it as your main content platform?

Matthew and his beautiful family.

No, the podcast came about because back in 2017 I was running my own business with two locations teaching classes. I was always busy with my regular 9-5 job and then nights and weekends I would teach the anger management classes. Then my oldest daughter came to me and said: “Daddy why do we never see you anymore?” That broke my heart so I sold the business shortly after that. I didn’t start the podcast for another 6 or 9 months after that. I kind of felt like something was missing. I wanted a way to teach but without being gone all the time. I knew I could talk and teach a class well so the podcast seemed like a natural choice.

Me: What are you hoping to do with it?

Matthew: I don’t really know. I just love to help and I have a passion for anger and helping people with it. I think it is because I know the pain that anger can bring my life and I don’t want anyone to suffer that pain as well. I have a goal of one day being a speaker at events about anger and emotional wellbeing. I want to start an annual event that people can attend and really learn and be surrounded by like minded people.

Me: Looking back, was there ever a moment, a conversation or an experience that you consider the reason why you chose to do this?

Matthew: Not really anything specific. I do enjoy it when people reach out to me and share their stories. I love to hear how my words have helped them rebuild a struggling relationship or something.

Me: There is a common saying that goes a little bit like this “There are only two important moments in a person’s life: when they were born and the day they find out why? What would you tell your kids when they ask you what they should do in their life and how were you able to know that for yourself?

I always tell them to find the thing that you would do for free and become the best at it. I didn’t find my love of helping until late in life like I was almost 30. I knew this was the right path for me to pursue because I found myself reading, all the time, for fun. I had never cared enough about anything to do that before. I have a massive library at home of self-help, psychology, and sociology books. I am part of several groups on Facebook and am always on there offering advice and whatnot. It is crazy but I just love to help and want to see people better their lives.

Me: As you move forward in this path, how do you see yourself in the future?

An Iron Maiden fan. A guru indeed.

I want to be the anger guru. 🙂 The person people seek out when they want help from someone who understands the pain and frustration of destructive anger. I feel because of my past and my own struggles that I have a unique perspective on anger and how we can find a way to healthy anger.

PART II: THE LESSONS

Ok, so Matthew, people go to your podcast and community looking for ways to get rid of this problem. Let’s talk about anger

Me: What do you think is the biggest misconception people have about anger?

That it is all bad. Anger itself is not good or bad. It is what we do with it that causes the problems. We need anger. It is not my goal to make people “anger free.” Instead I want them to learn how to be angry in a positive and productive way.

Matthew: In your experience talking and helping other people, what do you think are the things that they do wrong when trying to deal with this issue?

Denial. The anger person spends so much time thinking that they don’t have a problem everyone else does. If others would just stop making me mad I would be fine. The blame for our anger and its consequence must be put at our own feet. As soon as we see that we are the cause of our own anger, our thought, beliefs, and interruptions, maybe then we can work to find new ways, healthy ways to use that energy.

Me: Was it the same for you?

Matthew: Yep. I would always be ready to blame someone else for my outburst; The stupid driver in the next lane, the incompetent server at a restaurant, the lazy coworker. I never wanted to be at fault. If I was the reason then I had to look at myself and seek out the reason for the anger. That is a scary thing to do. It is better to think I am fine and everyone else is the problem.

Me: What is the thing that you are most proud of when you look back and see how much you have grown when it comes to your mental health and dealing with anger?

Matthew and Chrissy

Matthew: That my wife is still with me. I spent the first 4 or 5 years of our marriage being an angry, control freak. I tried so hard to drive her away, to make her just another problem and cause of my anger. She stayed with me. After I went to jail she told me she was just a couple weeks away from leaving. She had her stuff together and a place to stay. That night in jail was really the moment our relationship was changed. I didn’t want to lose her. It has not been easy, I have had my share of setbacks and slip ups over the last 10 years but she has helped me see that I don’t want to be that angry, miserable person any longer.

Me: If someone has anger issues and want to start doing something, for them to change that, what would you recommend to avoid those common mistakes that you mentioned before?

Matthew: Take ownership. When we are able to get under anger and find the core emotion we can work with that and the need that triggers it to start to change. I have several classes both free and low-cost I do.

Me: How can people start taking ownership? Most of them have good intentions but no clue. What would you recommend?

Matthew: First stop blaming others. You are in control of your anger and your emotions. I hear it all the time, people say: “well this person made me angry”. No, your interpretation of their behavior made you angry. To some, this can be a scary idea. It is hard to want to see ourselves responsible for the reason we suffer. I see it as such a good thing. If I am responsible for my anger then I have the power to change it.

By the way, Matt has an online group meeting once a month which is free. He also offers one on one sessions as well. The goal is to help build healthy beliefs and to learn that we can get our needs met without anger or violence.

Sam

Me: Cool, to wrap it up, is there anything else that you would like to add?

Matthew: Anger is nothing to fear. It is natural and normal. The key is to use it for its intended purpose, to tell us when things are not going as we would like. With that in mind, we can start to build better responses and outcomes. Thanks so much for allowing me this time to talk about what I think is a very important and often misunderstood topic.

ADDENDUM

No problem Matthew! It was my pleasure to have you here!

There you have it. I hope that after reading Matthew’s story you understand that redemption is possible, that family and loved ones are important building blocks of your mental health and that life becomes meaningful when you find a way of impacting people’s lives.

There are so many sizes and shapes of anger, but they all have one thing in common, to break from it, you need to take action towards getting better and ownership of your wrongdoing.

Matthew was able to understand that and he was also able to master that ability, today he dedicates his time to help people master it as well. Do yourself a favor and join his free community so you can start applying his tips and strategies right away. You can find Matthew in social media (FB, IG, TW) by the name “That Anger Management Crap”.

To learn more about his services visit him at www.thatangermanagementcrap.com

Thank you for reading! Don’t forget to subscribe and to share this story with someone you think it could help. Until next one!

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