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ANGER ! – The Volcano Within

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by Lynden Punnett Tue, Nov 8. 2011

It is extremely disturbing, but it appears that persons within our society resort to violence either against themselves or against others when venting their frustrations and anger. This trend is spiraling and will become uncontrollable unless certain elements are put in place within our communities.{{more}}

People who need counseling or reassurance or just someone to talk to confidentially have very few resources. Over the past few weeks, acts of violence, particularly against women, have escalated and the general public are clamoring for action against the perpetrators of these acts. Some time ago both the Police Force and the Ministry of Education held a forum where various problems were discussed concerning the behaviours of school children and adults exhibiting unsocial behaviour both in schools and elsewhere. At that time, as far as I am aware, there was no mention of calling on the Social Services to assist in counseling persons or inviting qualified personnel such as psychologists, both clinical and/or educational, to try and reach those persons in schools and communities who may be having difficulties, as well as institute courses of Anger Management.

People need to know there is SOMEONE to whom they can turn for help and advice when under stress and duress. There is at this point a lack of self-respect in many individuals, as well as a lack of respect for others in the community. Perhaps the various churches or service clubs could institute a ‘Citizens Advice Bureau’ in communities, staffed by persons who are objective, caring and knowledgeable. Teachers need to be more aware and have special training in recognizing the triggers that might cause angry outbursts or violence in children. Bullying can be very soul destroying and destructive and can also be very subtle. ‘Facebook’ has become a medium for this, particularly overseas. Perhaps the Government would consider employing a clinical or educational Psychologist, a person who is desperately needed both for children and adults. An essential component for society in general and particularly for the Educational Revolution.

What is Anger?

Anger is a completely normal, usually healthy, human emotion. But when it gets out of control and turns destructive, it can lead to problems-problems at work, in your personal relationships, and in the overall quality of your life. And it can make you feel as though you’re at the mercy of an unpredictable and powerful emotion.

Anger can be caused by both external and internal events. You could be angry at a specific person (such as a co-worker or supervisor) or event (a traffic jam, a canceled flight), or your anger could be caused by worrying or brooding about your personal problems. Memories of traumatic or enraging events can also trigger angry feelings.

The goal of anger management is to reduce both your emotional feelings and the physiological arousal that anger causes. You can’t get rid of, or avoid, the things or the people that enrage you, nor can you change them, but you can learn to control your reactions.

Relaxation

Simple relaxation tools, such as deep breathing and relaxing imagery, can help calm down angry feelings. There are books and courses that can teach you relaxation techniques, and once you learn the techniques, you can call upon them in any situation. If you are involved in a relationship where both partners are hot-tempered, it might be a good idea for both of you to learn these techniques.

Some simple steps you can try:

  • Breathe deeply, from your diaphragm; breathing from your chest won’t relax you. Picture your breath coming up from your “gut.”
  • Slowly repeat a calm word or phrase such as “relax,” “take it easy.” Repeat it to yourself while breathing deeply.
  • Use imagery; visualize a relaxing experience, from either your memory or your imagination.
  • Non-strenuous, slow yoga-like exercises can relax your muscles and make you feel much calmer.

Practice these techniques daily. Learn to use them automatically when you’re in a tense situation.

Better Communication

Angry people tend to jump to-and act on-conclusions, and some of those conclusions can be very inaccurate. The first thing to do if you’re in a heated discussion is slow down and think through your responses. Don’t say the first thing that comes into your head, but slow down and think carefully about what you want to say. At the same time, listen carefully to what the other person is saying and take your time before answering.

Listen, too, to what is underlying the anger. For instance, you like a certain amount of freedom and personal space, and your “significant other” wants more connection and closeness. If he or she starts complaining about your activities, don’t retaliate by painting your partner as a jailer, a warden, or an albatross around your neck.

It’s natural to get defensive when you’re criticized, but don’t fight back. Instead, listen to what’s underlying the words: the message that this person might feel neglected and unloved. It may take a lot of patient questioning on your part, and it may require some breathing space, but don’t let your anger-or a partner’s-let a discussion spin out of control. Keeping your cool can keep the situation from becoming a disastrous one. What these techniques have in common is a refusal to take yourself too seriously. Anger is a serious emotion, but it’s often accompanied by ideas that, if examined, can make you laugh.

Understanding the Goals of Negative Behaviour

You can tell what the purpose of someone’s mischief is by the way it makes you FEEL when it is happening. Instead of reacting to the mischief, you can ask yourself, “How is this behaviour making me feel right now? Which of the basic emotional needs is being sought?”

If you feel annoyed and irritated… His or her purpose is to get your attention. The most basic and fundamental need of children is the need to belong — to bond and feel connected to the parent and family; to be esteemed and valued as a human being. This makes attention one of the strongest motives underlying the child’s misbehaviour.

If you feel powerless and out of control… His or her purpose is to gain power and control over YOU. Children also have the need to be able to influence and control their environment. They strive to control the outcome of the events going on around them in ways that are consistent with, and in service to, their own wishes and desires. When they feel inadequate to do this, they become rebellious and defiant. If you feel hurt… His or her purpose is revenge! Children also strive to protect themselves from their “perception” of an attack or threat to their sense of self, whether real or imaginary. They perceive every reversal, major or minor, as if they were being singled out by others (i.e. parents, teachers) for special torture and punishment. They feel victimized and seek relief from their hurt feelings through acts of revenge. If you feel discouraged and helpless… His or her purpose is to withdraw from the task/situation for which he feels inadequate to cope. Children withdraw from overwhelming situations in order to maintain their immature sense of ego and pride, to escape the reality of their own inadequacies. The solution: disengage from the mischief.

Disengage does not mean to ignore the emotional needs of our children. But now, you know exactly what is going on. You are disengaging from the child’s mischief and misbehaviour, not from them as a person. You are choosing to behave appropriately in the reality of the situation.

After you have disengaged from the child’s mischief, you will feel relief from the tension, pressure and stress of the moment. You will feel in control, liberated, mature and secure within your own self. You will not take the child’s behavior “personally” as if it was a true reflection of your own worth as a parent, and as a human being. You will feel appropriately responsible and competent to handle the situation. The more you practice disengaging from the child’s mischief, the better you will become at it, the more the child will respect you — and the more you will respect yourself!

Many of us cannot forgive those who have trespassed against us.

Something below the level of our conscious awareness prevents us from relieving our residual anger by forgiving the other person and we then carry a grudge in our hearts for thirty years! This unresolved anger poisons our relationship with our friends and loved ones. It even spoils our relationship with ourselves! We make our own lives mean and miserable instead of happy and full. Very often the feeling is, “Why should I forgive them? What they did was WRONG!” But, is forgiveness for those who only do us right? Most people have a hard time forgiving others simply because they have a wrong understanding of what forgiveness is! When you forgive someone, it does not mean that you condone or are legitimizing their behaviour toward you. To

forgive them means that you refuse to carry painful and debilitating grudges around with you for the rest of your life! You are “refusing” to cling to the resentment of them having done you wrong. You are giving yourself some immediate relief from your OWN anger!

Learn to express yourself calmly

Try to express angry feelings in an assertive manner, using calm, logical words rather than violence.

If you are having, or expecting, a heated discussion, keep the following in mind:

  • slow down – think carefully about what you want to say
  • try to think about what is underlying the anger
  • be clear about what you are asking and how it can be achieved. Try using phrases like

“I feel angry with you because…”

  • listen carefully to the other person, remembering that everyone is entitled to their own opinion
  • keep your cool in the face of your own and the other person’s anger
  • you may feel offended if you are being criticized. Try not to be put off by this and keep going
  • be patient and ask questions to get to the heart of problem
  • try to be carefully assertive, rather than sarcastic or aggressive.

You can’t eliminate anger from your life. You will always come across situations which provoke anger. The key to approaching anger is to take responsibility for your own reactions and behaviour by addressing angry feelings with new coping mechanisms and responses.

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