Anger is one letter short of danger
Anger needs to be let out, but in a constructive way. When you feel anger coming on, your body gives you a signal. For any anger issue, look for the belief behind the feelings. You may learn that by being a bit flexible, you are able to manage and control your anger.
Anger is an acid that can do more harm to the vessel in which it is stored than to anything on which it is poured.- Mark Twain, American writer
A young man came to me with a bandage on his right hand. I assumed he had an accident. He started to talk about his life and when I queried why he sought my services, he told me he had anger issues. Apparently he came from a very aggressive family, all members spoke aggressively. It was accepted in his family, but at work, he realized he needed to keep control.
The only area he was unable to do so was in his committed relationship. He would lose his cool with his girlfriend quite often. One day he was so angry, he raised his hand to hit her, but some sanity in a split second made him smash his hand on the wall next to her face. Both were shocked to say the least! This was when he realized he requires anger management, or he would become physically violent.
When he was questioned what he could have possibly done to avert the situation, he could not think of any option. Could he have left the situation, walked away from his girl, till he cooled down? He said he had not thought about that at all!
Another young woman appeared very rigid. Her body language was tight. Well into the session she revealed she was holding in anger. She was angry at so many things and people. But she did not want to lose her cool, so she was holding it in, and this made her appear very rigid. When she was questioned why she needed to hold her anger in, she told me it is what is expected. Those who display anger do not get respect.
There are several instances of people breaking things, shouting at people and even breaking off relationships due to anger. Children and women get beaten because there are anger issues in the parent or spouse.
Anger is a healthy emotion. It needs to be respected. But it also needs to be managed, like any other emotion. The best way to handle anger would be to take it out. Suppressing anger can lead to psychosomatic illnesses and it can really corrode the soul. It can lead to a person losing perspective in life, and afraid to lose control.
Taking anger out does not mean one has to do it in a destructive manner. It means letting it out, but handling it in an appropriate manner. Recognize one does get angry. Try to look for the triggers. It is easy to say, he/ she made me angry. This is your emotion, so the control needs to be yours. You have the choice to be or not to be angry. When you choose to be angry, why blame others? Learn to take responsibility for your choices.
Anger is not really due to any situation, but your belief about the situation. While working with the young man who broke his hand, we discussed the common areas where he loses his temper. He told me his girl does not understand his way of thinking. Has he explained to her clearly what matters to him? He has not, he expected her to understand. Was she a mind reader? He realized he was blaming her based on his belief that she is supposed to understand without being told, since they were in a relationship. That is not possible always. Also she has a right to have a different opinion, she may not agree to all he says or does. Does he respect that? Sometimes they need to agree to disagree. Did that happen in his relationship? He had no answer for these queries.
He assumed based on his beliefs that she should understand, she must accept his opinions. He realized he needed to listen more, accept that she being a different individual, has a right to her beliefs. He needs to develop this perspective to avoid such anger issues. We worked on his irrational belief systems, got him to dispute them, and he felt much better.
The young woman, the second client, was encouraged to bring out her anger and examine them. What about the people or situation were wrong, according to her? She felt her mother had to support her, needed to be there for her. That is the role of a mother. But unfortunately, her mother was no more. She was angry at her mother for leaving her.
She also felt people needed to treat her with respect, and the elders in her family should pamper her a little because she had no mother. She was angry at her father because he re-married. According to her, he was her father, he could not be a husband to another woman.
All irrational beliefs, and these were causing her to be perpetually angry. Added to this she remembered her mother saying angry people have no respect, so she would hold her anger in. She was so uptight, she did not feel any joy, would not participate in any group activity. Her father brought her in for counseling, and it took some time to break through her rigid boundary.
Rational emotive therapy helped and she started to loosen up a little. She learned to laugh, started to enjoy small pleasures. Her anger against her mother disappeared, and counseling helped her to mourn the loss.
Anger needs to be let out, but in a constructive way. When you feel anger coming on, your body gives you a signal. There are physical changes you need to recognize. For instance, your face could feel hot, there could be burning in the pit of your stomach, your breathing may become fast, etc. As soon as these changes occur, you need to bring up coping skills to be able to manage the emotion. Because if you do not manage and control, the emotion rises and the consequence of reaction are almost always negative or destructive. Like throwing what is in the hand, smashing your hand on the wall, tearing things up, screaming, using abusive language and physical violence. To recover from the damage, will take time and a lot of resources.
Also learn to recognize the triggers. What sets off this emotion? And then analyze your belief system here. Your friend did not return your call. Maybe she is busy, her phone has no charge, she is not in a position to return your call, etc. Instead, if you fume she is being inconsiderate, does not respect you, she must return the call because you have called, then you are building up your anger. Is it worth it?
Many parents and teachers get angry with a child who is not performing well in academics. It is a child’s duty to learn and reproduce what is taught. But does the child have learning/ emotional issues? A mother gets angry at her child not eating a particular vegetable. Maybe the child does not have a taste for it? It can be reintroduced later, in some other form. Instead the mother feels this vegetable is important for the child’s physical growth, and the child not eating it makes her feel her efforts are not being appreciated. What does a child know about physical growth?
These are mild examples. For any anger issue, look for the belief behind the feelings. You may learn that by being a bit flexible, you are able to manage and control your anger. And when self management does not work, do seek professional help.