Anger is multifaced, manifesting itself in many ways. In its extreme, it can be explosive .On the other end of the continuum, it can simmer under the surface undetected by those on the outside, manifesting itself in various physical and /or psychological maladies.
Anger can also be expressed spontaneously, without any knowledge of its origin. I am working with a patient who reports becoming angry without any awareness of any trigger. Upon further exploration, it was revealed that he grew up in a highly dysfunctional and toxic home environment. This has resulted in his never learning how to deal with his motions appropriately, including feeling angry.
Anger is a feeling that can also be viewed by some people in a negative light and consequently held in or even denied. I had another patient who, as a child was not allowed to express any feelings that her mother deemed as being inappropriate, As a consequence, if she was feeling angry, she feared expressing it, risking rejection at the hands of her mother. As a result, this patient, as an adult, still carries the belief that the mere acknowledgement of angry feelings, is viewed negatively.
What most people failed to realize is that anger is a feeling that is amoral, neither good nor bad, right or wrong. It’s just a feeling.. It is how one deals with this feeling that counts. That’s fine to hear, but how do you put this awareness into practice when you allow anger to control you instead of you controlling it. Here are a few suggestions.
- When angry, try to think about why you are truly angry. Is it about the situation at hand or something you have pushed down under the surface, not wanting to look at? Is it a cumulation of past events that have never been dealt with and have boiled over? Is it a mere defensive reaction because you are reluctant to be viewed as wrong? Taking a hard look at what’s really going on within you will go a long way in dictating how your anger will be expressed.
2. Not all deal with angry feelings the same way. Some want to deal with it right away and up front. Others would like to walk away briefly, cool down and gather their thoughts. Though different, each style needs to be respected and worked with.
3. When angry, take responsibility for how you feel as opposed to blaming the other person for causing the anger that you feel. Saying, “I feel angry.” as opposed to saying “You are the cause of my anger.” is a much better approach.
4. Recognize that you don’t always have to respond to the other person’s angry outbursts. You can not control the other person. So trying to convince the other person to your way of thinking is more often not, futile. Quiet, focused listening, responding only to appropriate questions, will give you a tremendous sense of personal control, rather than getting caught up “spiting contest” where nothing gets resolved but only gets escalated..
These a but a few suggestions. We will add more in future blogs. Send me ideas as to what works for you and I will include them in future blogs. Forward any comments, suggestions and/or thoughts to me at firstname.lastname@example.org.