Been PO'd lately? Has anybody ever told you that you have a "problem" with anger and that you need to "get a hold of your emotions," and you don't understand, because that's what you've been trying to do but it hasn't worked? Ever wonder why
and how you get angry, and why you seem to get angry at the wrong people? Wonder why you "blow up," why others seem to be in better control?
Anger is one of our basic emotions and, some would say, helps us to progress as a species. It helps to marshal our forces to protect ourselves, family, home, job and anything else we hold dear. It can also help motivate us to plan, accomplish, succeed. We can show "others" that we aren't stupid, that we can accomplish something. We can identify and rally others to causes that are ultimately valuable to the species and culture, like ending nuclear proliferation, saving the environment and providing accessible health care.
Anger can also help us destroy our relationships in our marriages, families and occupations. Generally, that is considered unhealthy, although it may not be.
One way of looking at anger is that it begins as frustration with something and later turns to anger as others don't respond the way we want. If our lives begin with our continually being frustrated, like not getting fed or changed when we need, not being allowed to explore, not being demonstrated love and respect and continually being criticized by those who should be encouraging and loving us, we may develop chronic anger, along with anxiety and depression, as adults, which may not help us attain success in our relationships.
If, on the other hand, our developmental needs for emotional support, including love, respect and encouragement are met fairly well, anger will fit in well with our repertoire of emotions and will allow us to use it appropriately, such as not being used and abused by the many who would.
How Angry Are You?
Charles Speilberger developed an anger inventory that may help you understand your
anger, as compared to others, better.
Read each statement and choose the number that most describes you. 1= Almost never; 2 = Sometimes; 3 = Often, 4 = Almost always
1. I am quick tempered 1 2 3 4
2. I have a fiery temper 1 2 3 4
3. I am a hotheaded person 1 2 3 4
4. I get angry when I am slowed by others' mistakes 1 2 3 4
5. I feel annoyed when I am not given recognition for doing good work 1 2 3 4
6. I fly off the handle 1 2 3 4
7. When I get mad, I say nasty things 1 2 3 4
8. It makes me furious when I am criticized in front of others 1 2 3 4
9. When I get frustrated, I feel like hitting someone 1 2 3 4
10. I feel infuriated when I do a good job and get a poor evaluation 1 2 3 4
Scoring. Add the numbers you have chosen. The higher the total the more anger dominates your life.
If you scored 13 or below, you are in the least angry 10 percent of people.
If you scored 14-15, you are in the lowest quarter.
If you scored 17-20, your anger level is about average.
If you scored 21-24, your anger level is high, around, around the seventy-fifth percentile (You would be angrier than 75% of the population).
If you scored 29-30 and you are male, your anger level is around the ninetieth percentile.
If you scored 25-27 and you are female, your anger level is around the ninetieth
If you scored over 30 and you're male, or over 28 and you are female you are at the ninety-fifth percentile-the most angry.
So What Do You Do?
If you're among the most angry, at the least you're a very unhappy person. You're probably mad at yourself and everybody else. You might hold impossible expectations for yourself and others and be continually disappointed in yourself and others. Worse, you may not even see this. Find a way to lighten up. See a therapist. Talk with loved ones. Keep an anger diary to help you pinpoint exactly what's going on.
Do you blame everybody else for your problems? No good, because you can't change everybody else and the attempt to do so can be extremely time and energy consuming. The most control you have over anybody is yourself and that is far less than you think. Think of the word "acceptance."
If you scored in the middle percentiles, you're probably what we like to think of as "normal" (average). Congratulations, you probably live a fairly fulfilling life.
If you scored in the lowest percentile, you must be actively working on improving your life and probably know exactly what I'm talking about and more. Hopefully, you're spreading the word to those around you.
HOW TO CONTROL ANGER
One technique for learning to control your anger and improve your well-being is to learn to control the way you respond to your emotions. Just as you learned to think and believe in unhealthy and unproductive ways, you can learn to think in productive and healthy ways. You can learn on your own, in therapy, in college or adult education classes, in AA or Alanon, and by reading, among others.
As an example, begin by noticing what specifically makes you angry. Your anger is good and you're supposed to be feeling it. Then, think of how you would ordinarily respond to your anger. That may or may not be appropriate. If it causes you to feel worse after you express it, and your needs are not met, there are probably more effective methods of expressing it.
One way of handling anger appropriately is to tell the person you're angry with what is bothering you in a non-provoking manner, such as, "...., lately I've been feeling maybe we need to talk about etc." Many therapists advocate using "I" statements, such as, "I notice that when you do I feel (uncomfortable, sad, angry, depressed, etc.) and I'm wondering if there is a way we can work things out."
Any way you can think of to express your feelings in a non-provoking way is adequate, however, because the key is not to put the other person on the defensive. Once they're on the defensive, you might as well be talking to a wall because they won't be receptive.
Additionally, once you gently approach the other person in your most non-confronting self and come to the conclusion they have no interest in working things out, it's time to consider ending the relationship. There's something else going on that they're not telling you. They're gaining in some way that they're not willing to lose, even with the threat of the loss of the relationship. If neither of you chooses to end the relationship, you could be in for a period of misery as you work toward ending it.
A point to remember is that very few relationships that don't meet your expectations at the beginning are going to meet them later. Usually, as time passes they meet less of your expectations. Another point to remember is that all relationships require risking the relationship to maintain and improve it. That means maintaining open lines of communication and bringing up the topics that are scary, such as money, sex, religion, in-laws and children.
If you find a relationship ending earlier than you anticipated or ending when you didn't anticipate it (no matter which one of you ends it) it is very likely in your best interests, even though you may feel cheated, hurt, abandoned, etc. If it ended after a long period of misery, usually both parties will eventually be thankful. If it ended early, after a short period of seeming compatibility, it really wasn't compatible. The other person was building reasons to end it without telling you. In either scenario, if your goal in life is peace, happiness, serenity and compatibility with another, you can gain knowledge towards achieving that goal from the ended relationship.
One of the things we attempt to teach in psychotherapy is to learn to read the signs of impending overwhelming stress and learn to adjust before the "blowup." That means taking care of yourself, learning to read your body's signs of stress and learning to respond appropriately before it becomes overwhelming.
Oftentimes, that means doing what you know is best even when others would have you do otherwise, such as staying in a relationship too long, working too much overtime, lending too much money, spending too much money, visiting in-laws you never liked to begin with, etc., etc., etc. When you're doing a good job responding to your own needs first, you'll find your body will reward you with increased serenity, self-esteem and confidence and you'll find you no longer get to the point of exploding. Importantly, as you begin taking care of yourself, you will find your relationships improving as you feel better.
Questions? Feel free to contact me. ©