Monday, March 2, 2015

Is There A Right And Wrong Side Of Anger?

I believe that most anger starts as an annoyance but can turn into rage - if allowed.  To get angry is expressing a normal emotion but out of control it can be destructive.  It can destroy relationships, careers and most definitely, your health.  Anger is a natural response to a threat and helps us defend ourselves but must be controlled to be beneficial. 

You can be assertive when you are angry; expressing your feelings calmly and respectfully allowing you to get your point across without being offensive.  An unhealthy choice is to suppress anger which can lead to passive-aggressive behavior and hypertension or depression.  It is crucial to find a way to vent without hurting others or ourselves. Otherwise it can be a one-way street without a way to turn around and take back what had been said.
@BatteredHope wrong side of anger

I have written a couple posts regarding angry children and believe that many parents do not teach their children how to control their anger.  As parents, we are the emotional break our children need to guide them but more importantly to instruct them, by example.  This does not mean that we teach our children to be doormats and allow other kids to bully them but it does mean that we show our children how to express themselves without throwing a tantrum or a toy across the room.

Sometimes we need to voice our anger and explain why, to make a point.  However, this can be done without yelling, cursing or saying things that we can never take back, including making threats.  Not controlling our tongue and hurting someone is hard for them to forget.  We may feel justified at the time, but if we took a moment to ask ourselves if it is worth it, it may help us think rationally and react in a calmer manner.  I have never seen out-of-control anger accomplish anything positive.

Dealing with an angry person
After publishing my memoir, Battered Hope, one of the questions I am asked most often is "How did you keep taking the abuse, get beaten down, robbed from, kicked, deceived, and hurt but not get angry?"   I was angry.  I am still angry at some of the things that were done to me.  But I made the choice not to allow it to control my life. I don't dwell on it or live in a state of 'if only.'  It never changes what happened.  I know people who consistently blame others for their demise - justified or unjustified; it is not where I choose to reside.  And precisely, that is what it is - your choice.
@BatteredHope wrong side of anger

When my husband suffered brain damage from a car accident 20 years ago, uncontrollable anger was a side effect.  Yet he learned to control it without allowing the fury to eat like a cancer and destroy everyone he cared about.  The greatest lesson I learned during that time was how to be patient.  How not to react.  How to stay calm.  I understood where the anger was coming from; and when he was in a relaxed state, I could explain how it made me feel, how he hurt me.  The results were positive and I do not imagine we would still be married if I had retaliated in like manner.  In fact, his doctors told me that rarely do marriages survive this form of rage.  This made me a very patient person which is not an easy feat for a Type A personality.  My point is, it can be done.  It is a choice.

 What about if someone hurts your child?
When someone hurts my children, and it does not matter how old they may be, ire rises up in me like a mother bear.  But using a rational approach in expressing that anger accomplishes much more. My adopted son had learning disabilities. When I realized the difficulty he was having in school, I was able to pull some strings and get him (and the other children who needed it) an aide to help in the classroom.  When I asked him how his first day with the new teacher had gone, he said she didn't stay very long.  Knowing the arrogance of his second grade teacher, I called to ask her what had happened.  Her words were "I refused to allow it.  If a child cannot learn under my instruction, he does not deserve to learn."

@BatteredHope wrong side of anger
My immediate reaction was to shoot her or cause her pain. A swift kick would have worked.  I counted to three and calmly said, "He will not be in school until this gets worked out."  I didn't tell her what I thought of her or say anything that would jeopardize my son in the future.  I didn't threaten her although I wanted to.  Did this mean I was suppressing my anger - of course not.  I just needed time to find a solution and lashing out was not the answer.  Apparently, the school board could not veto the teacher's decision so I home schooled my son until he was in another class.  He learned more and it was win-win.

When anger is justified
It is easy to scream at someone you have never met, as a vendor who has overcharged you.  But you can get your point across much clearer by using a different technique.  Asking to speak to a supervisor is a great tool and almost always brings desired results.  When someone gets angry at me in our store, which may or may not have been our fault, I can always calm them down when I speak in a quiet tone and have them explain the problem without emotion getting in the way. Almost always I can get them to see the humor in the situation and make them feel like they won, even if they were in the wrong.
@BatteredHope wrong side of anger

However, learning to be tolerant of repeated abuse by an angry person is difficult. Sometimes, we have to walk away, not just emotionally but literally.  Sometimes we need to look at a relationship and realize we are the kicking post for their frustrations.  If we respond negatively, it accomplishes little to nothing.  Sometimes, we have to say "Enough, I am not taking this anymore." Ideally this can lead to salvaging the relationship when the opposite party realizes what he/she may be losing because of their anger.

Anger can be your worst enemy or a stepping stone to a better relationship.  We can choose to forgive or not.  The only one who loses if we choose to remain angry and not forgive - is ourselves.

What coping skills can you share on how to deal with anger issues?

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