There is this thing called anger (a strong feeling of annoyance, displeasure, or hostility) which always gives birth to something called temper (a person’s state of mind seen in terms of their being angry or calm or a tendency to become angry easily).
Both are bad and dangerous. Unfortunately, they are also very common.
“Anger is one of the seven deadly sins,” Dr Alan Watkins,
physician and neuroscientist, told listeners on BBC’s Radio One health matters programme. “It is one of the most toxic emotions which can seriously impair our health.”
Anger is the feeling we experience when events in our world are not going according to our plans. It’s as if we have an inner idea of how things, events and people should be – and when they don’t march to our tune we get angry and either feel frustrated or try to change them.
Frequently, it is not the event itself that provokes us but what we decide the other involved person is thinking or feeling about us.
When someone behaves in a manner that is against our ‘rules’ we arbitrarily decide that we ‘know’ their motives. We decide that we are able to read their minds. And then we react.
The habit of feeling angry a lot of the time can control your life. It can damage your health, ruin peace of mind, spoil your relationships, jeopardise your career – and even cost you your liberty if, for example, a violent temper or a furious outburst results in a prison sentence.
We feel insulted and get angry when a car overtakes us because we ‘know’ that the driver is looking down on us or thinks he/she is better than us in some way.
We feel insulted and get angry when we are given explanations that contradict what we had already decided.
When someone misunderstands us, we get angry because we ‘know’ they are doing it deliberately.
There are as many triggers of anger as there are personalities.
In such cases, we don’t bother to ask them what, exactly, they are thinking or feeling at the time. After all, why should we? We decide that if they truly cared about, respected, loved us they would live according to our rules – or they would ‘know’ that their behaviour was going to upset us and not do it.
You may feel that you are in the right when you get angry, says Reg Connolly of Neuro-Linguistic Programme (NLP), but the key question is: does it make you happy? Does it contribute towards your happiness and that of the people in your life?
“Just think of the cost of your ongoing battle with disrespect, lack of consideration, carelessness, clumsiness, and so on,” he says. “Perhaps, like a lot of anger-habit people, you have already done this yet your buttons are still being pressed. You are still being provoked by situations. You still lose your cool and sound off. And you still, afterwards, feel regret, remorse and self hatred.”
In essence, says the NLP, anger is the feeling we get when we want to control the world about us. It’s a pretty childish emotion – since no one person can or will ever be able to control everyone else in the world – or even in one’s own family. We know that. But usually don’t know what to about it!
“This kind of warped thinking,” says Connolly, “may seem humorous when read in cold print but is frequently the kind of thinking that goes on in those moments when we are simmering and coming to the anger boil.”
The Parents Jury, an on-line magazine, says parents have long suspected that artificial food colourings can affect their child’s mood and behaviour. It says that a government-funded study showed that parents were right all along.
“Food additives can cause behaviour changes in toddlers, even in those who have no history of hyperactivity,” said the magazine. “A new government-funded study by the UK’s Asthma & Allergy Research Centre concluded that all children could benefit from the removal of specified artificial food colourings from their diet,” adding that “significant changes in children’s hyperactive behaviour could be produced by the removal of colourings and additives from their diet”.
The additives tested were the artificial food colourings Tartrazine, Sunset Yellow, Carmoisine, and Ponceau 4R, and the preservative Sodium Benzoate.
There are a number of types of anger. Mike Obsatz , “Healing Our Anger”, lists eight of them as:
* Chronic anger ÔÇö ongoing resentment toward others and life in general
* Volatile anger ÔÇö comes and goes, builds to rage, explodes as physical or
* Judgmental anger ÔÇö critical statements are made which belittle, shame, or
correct others and is done with disdain
* Passive anger ÔÇö expressed indirectly through sarcasm, or being late, or
avoiding a situation
* Overwhelmed anger ÔÇö arises when people can’t handle their life
circumstances, and lash out to relieve stress or pain
* Retaliatory anger ÔÇö directed to a person to get back at them for
something that they did or said
* Self-inflicted anger ÔÇö may result in hurting oneself emotionally or
physically ÔÇö negative self-talk, starvation, eating or drinking to excess
* Constructive anger ÔÇö using anger to make some positive difference, such
as becoming involved in a cause or movement for positive change.
One common way of setting yourself up to become angry is to have a version of how things should be and to continuously compare reality with your version – and then feel angry when reality gets it wrong!
The ‘anger habit’ includes the tendency to experience temper tantrums, feelings of on-going frustration, resentment, irritability, etc. We call it a habit because it is a habitual way of behaving and responding to circumstances of which we disapprove. It is not ‘how I am’ – it is ‘how I react’.
However, many experts advise that it is much better to express anger rather than bottle it up. They point out that suppressing anger can adversely affect our physical health and, in research, has frequently been linked with heart disease.
Yet other experts advise that expressing anger only makes things worse because it exacerbates the difficult situation and can have a destructive impact on your relationships, your career, and even your personal liberty.
This conflicting advice does not seem to offer us much guidance. Expressing anger is easier on the heart but you could end up lonely or in prison. Suppress anger and people will like you but you may damage your health.
The Internationally renowned Mayo Clinic offers some anger management tips to help get your anger under control:
* Take a “time out.” Although it may seem like a clich├®, counting to 10 before reacting, or leaving the situation altogether, really can defuse your temper.
* Do something physically exerting. Physical activity can provide an outlet for your emotions, especially if you’re about to erupt. Go for a brisk walk or a run, swim or lift weights.
* Find ways to calm and soothe yourself. Practice deep-breathing exercises, visualize a relaxing scene, or repeat a calming word or phrase to yourself, such as “take it easy.”
* Once you’re calm, express your anger as soon as possible so that you aren’t left stewing. If you simply can’t express your anger in a controlled manner to the person who angered you, try talking to a family member, friend, counselor or another trusted person.
* Think carefully before you say anything so that you don’t end up saying something you’ll regret.
* Don’t hold a grudge. Forgive the other person. It’s unrealistic to expect everyone to behave exactly as you want.
The world does not and will not run by any one person’s rules, says NLP. The world will always be quite chaotic. That’s reality. There is no point in getting worked up about it. It is also a reality that the world is peopled by lots of people with (by our standards) rather crazy rules, values, and behaviours.
Becoming angry, it says, is pointless because it changes nothing. Nor do we even have the right to change other people.
Bear in mind that not all anger is unhealthy. Sometimes anger is quite appropriate – it can be our final defence against allowing other people to manipulate or dominate us. And it can motivate us to take action against injustice.
Anger is healthy when it is not on-going but is usefully channeled into appropriate action.
SOURCES: Mayo Clinic, Emotional Freedom Techniques, Professional Guild of Neuro-Linguistic Programming, Internet