Have you ever seen a child eagerly awaiting their absentee parent who’s coming to take them for a play date? When faced with the dawning realisation that the parent is not coming the child may become defensive or hurt, angrily crying that they hate that parent and wouldn’t have gone with them anyway! Is that the truth?
Of course not, they’re merely trying to cover up their disappointment and feelings of rejection in order to recover quickly and conceal their distress. Anger is often an alternative to crying or grief and can help us move forward from feeling vulnerable.
As an adult we hope to deal with our anger issues and move onto more effective ways of communicating our feelings. We start to see anger as an unhelpful, inelegant way of conveying our hurt or displeasure and quickly learn that it doesn’t resolve matters. It often simply prevents us from moving on. Far better to learn to deal with emotive situations calmly and rationally, rather than let our feelings dictate and get the better of us.
When we find ourselves constantly resorting to anger, unable to deal well with conflict or disappointment we need to concern ourselves with finding other ways to resolve and sort out our anger issues.
Anger can manifest itself in several ways.
– We can be angry with ourselves, feel unworthy, unattractive, unintelligent and follow through with damaging, destructive behaviour like self-harm, bad habits, negative self-talk, so ruining any chance of success with our manner, attitude and approach. People with serious self-anger issues may set themselves gruelling challenges, never feel they’ve achieved enough or in the right way. Then they punish themselves further with a binge, purge or self-discipline regime.
– Other people can provoke our anger if we feel ‘it’s all right for them’! In those instances other people may be seen as especially gifted, advantaged or lucky, thus meaning that they have better or unfair chances of good fortune.
– We can be angry at situations and blame our circumstances for our lack of success; they’re the reason things don’t work out well. You’ll hear, ‘it’s not fair’, ‘if only’, ‘I can’t start until that’s sorted’.
– Inanimate objects can bear the brunt of our anger too. People may kick, throw, stamp on and destroy objects due to their anger. Those items may even get the blame for things not working out!
Some tips to help you deal with your anger issues.
– Start to recognise the triggers, those situations where you find yourself losing control and becoming angry. Is it a look that you’ve received, a raised eyebrow, a shrug or smirk when you’ve spoken. Is it being ignored or not allowed to speak? Notice what sparks you off.
– Appreciate that others’ reactions are not necessarily about you. There may be times when your behaviour, comment or body language affects the recipient in a provocative way. But we can never really know what’s going on in someone else’s mind or life. It’s important to be respectful and allow all points of view to be heard.
– Ascertain the facts first. Stay calm and ask questions. Find out what’s going on, what prompted their words or behaviour. Listen properly and with genuine interest. Avoid second-guessing, finishing their sentences or getting your reply ready before they’ve finished speaking.
– Respond rather than react. Consider each situation and what you want to achieve, what your desired outcome is. For example, if your car broke down on your way to an important meeting you could kick it, damage it in frustration but it wouldn’t solve anything and seeing the damage afterwards would probably make you feel worse. Far better to stay calm and identify what needs to happen to remedy the situation as positively as possible.
– If a relationship is causing you anger issues you could suggest meeting to discuss them. Set a mutually convenient time. A public place can be good as it ensures communication remains civil in tone. Try to identify key areas of upset and own your feelings. Rather than accuse with, ‘you make me feel’, it’s far better to prompt a discussion with, ‘when this happens I feel’.
– Avoid lots of examples. They can hi-jack a conversation and rarely achieve anything useful, as you can get side-tracked. Examples seldom help to move the situation along.
– Alternatively writing a letter can be a good way to communicate your feelings. Take as long as necessary to process your thoughts so you’re clear about what you want and need to say. It may take days or even weeks so that you’re finally happy with the content and tone. This can be an effective way of dealing with someone who’s disappeared from your life. Then when it’s finished you can either mail it or have a ritual to signify that this phase of your life is finally over.
– A journal can equally be used to write down and work through angry and painful emotions, sometimes being kept in conjunction with counselling and hypnotherapy. Use effective methods to help you understand what the anger’s about, what’s been causing it. Those insights can improve your ability to communicate your feelings.
– Learning to communicate well can be a difficult process if good communications were not a part of your early years. Some families learned to keep quiet for fear of upsetting a volatile or easily upset family member. Or if a partner is perceived as being intelligent or eloquent, who twists whatever’s said so that problems are your fault it can become easier to stay mute. But anger can then erupt as frustration, often over small and trivial things.
– Set your own boundaries in place so you protect yourself and are aware of what you will and won’t tolerate. This allows you to gradually communicate how you feel effectively. You’ve learned not to inflame the situation, yet are able to be firm, fair and clear, keen to empathise and resolve any issues.
– Recognise the part that stress may play in your anger, your warning signs of being tired, irritable, not sleeping well. Let your partner know what you’re going through. Good communications can play a major role in helping to deal with your anger issues. Let those closest support you at difficult times.
And remember, once said, things cannot be unsaid. They may be understood and even forgiven, but hurtful, angry words are often difficult to forget.