Anger Management Again
Anger “control” issues dominate our mass media. Whether reading about internet bullying and, at times, suicidal and homicidal responses to internet bullying, assault and battery, murders, and other violence in response to anger, global politics and mass murders through senseless wars, national politics and political bickering, or just watching any type of television show or movie. Our mass media has helped to perpetuate the myths of ineffective responses to anger.
Anger, itself, is one of our most important survival emotions. It tells us when something in our environment needs to be corrected. It tells us how our immediate relationships, at home, at work, and socially, are going and provides us with the opportunity to make corrections in our relationships. Ideally, anger provides us with the opportunity to “compromise.” Unfortunately, we have largely learned to “retaliate” or “get away,” emotionally or physically, as a valid response, which is not valid, at all (at least, as an initial response), leaving us with a global anger management problem.
Personal experience tells each of us that our standard response to anger does not work; it does not provide the results we want and, usually, leads to more and more escalating and ineffective responses. What are we trying to say? “Listen to me! I want to tell you how you hurt me!” When that doesn’t work, we get into name calling and, at some point, physical fighting and/or fleeing. While I do not usually wind up seeing our government leaders and intervening in global disagreements, I do see individuals and couples, who actually share the same ineffective dynamics as our global leaders (and, perhaps are partly responsible for teaching us ineffective ways of dealing with anger).
The scenario, in my mind, is always the same; someone felt hurt, someone else didn’t notice, someone got mad, someone else got mad in return, each thought they were correct, or his/her hurt was greater, they arrived at an impasse, the disagreement then blew out of proportion and control. Usually, these dynamics occurred over and over until finally, someone had to “see a therapist” or the relationship was over.
The Ultimate Effective Anger Management Secret
Like all things magical, the ultimate effective anger management secret is simple. It does not involve 12 weeks of anger management classes or courses in conflict management. It may take some work with a therapist to hone one’s skills in the use of it, however. Without further ado, here it is:
Express your feelings in a way that you think the other will be receptive.
There, you have it! Take it and make it work! The steps to make it work include:
Feel the feelings.
Experience the feelings.
Let yourself think about all of the anger you have about the issue.
Think about what you might have said/done to contribute to the current issue.
Think about a way you can express your feelings in a way the other will be receptive.
An example: As I am writing this, my wife is in the other room talking to me. I’m frustrated because I’m trying to concentrate on what I’m writing! I can think (though, I’m not, because I have practice at this), “Damn it, why are you talking to me from the other room, knowing that I can’t hear you but that you are distracting me?!” Okay, that about sums it up. So, what would be a way that I can express these feelings? She knows I’m writing. Okay, here it goes. “When you talk to me I can’t concentrate.” Silence. It worked! Had she not known I was writing, I could have said, “Sorry but I’m writing right now. I’ll talk with you in a few minutes.” That would have worked, also, but then I would have lost focus as I thought about finishing up to go talk.
Another example: We are at a party. Wife is on her second drink. Suddenly, everything that we have discussed over the past couple of weeks, which she has obviously not responded to me completely, is brought up, only in a cynical way with me the butt of her sarcasm. I am sure this happens to most and at the most inopportune times. How do I respond? “Damn it, you have had too much to drink and now you want to discuss our business in front of others?” Those are my thoughts. My thoughts are also, “Shut up!” The feelings are, obviously, frustration and anger. How do I express them in a way she will be receptive, at a party? Here goes: “I’m sorry you feel that way. I’m glad you have brought up your feelings, though! I’m happy to compromise!” End of discussion, plus we arrived at a compromise that was satisfying to each of us.
Notice I am not using sarcasm and am attempting to express my rational thinking as clearly as possible. Those are two important factors. As I’ve said previously, eliminate sarcasm from your relationship and express exactly what you are feeling as accurately as possible, in a way the other will be receptive. With this method, you are not “stuffing” your feelings. You are feeling them, acknowledging them, and expressing them effectively. The result? No more explosive outbursts because you are no longer dealing with your feelings ineffectively.
If you want help in honing your skills, let me know.