Does being angry do us any good?
“Anger is meant to be acted upon. It is not meant to be acted out.” Julia Cameron, The Artist's Way.
As much as it is socially correct to pretend that you don't have a temper, I have yet to meet a person devoid of anger.
Yes, there are people who appear completely serene and content, but that is in the moment you are viewing them. There is not one among them who stubs their toe and thanks the ground for striking them, nor the mosquito for biting them.
As I don't have a PhD in psychology. I am not going to pretend to be an expert on anger management.
Instead, the following is simply a summary of a few things that I have learnt along the way and the types of questions that I try to ask myself in stressful moments.
To start, let's first be clear what anger actually is.
Have you ever come away from a heated encounter and thought that the person you argued with is never angry about what they say they are angry about? That it is always really about something else?
Despite what you might assume, according to the American Psychological Association, anger is actually a secondary emotional response to the sensation that we have been wronged intentionally. It is always preceded by a primary emotion such as fear, envy, frustration or anxiety, and is a sign that one of our primary needs has not been satisfied.
The problem is that anger is such an aggressive emotion that we frequently erupt without realising which primary need has not been satisfied, and those confronted with the anger of another also miss this key point whether they respond with equal force or attempt to shun the perpetrator.
This being the case, an argument has no real winner — it is merely a failed interaction between two people who don't understand what the issue really is.
Now that you know this, instead of reacting without thinking or trying to suppress your feelings by telling yourself that you are not allowed to feel anger, would it not be better to stop and ask yourself what the real issue is when you feel a burning sensation building up inside you?
What would happen if you asked yourself what you needed to learn from the circumstance or situation that had caused you to experience anger?
What is your anger trying to teach you about yourself?
What is your anger trying to show you about an action that you need to take, or the direction that you need to head in life?
Equally, when confronted with an angry person, what would happen if you calmly asked them to explain what the real issue is beneath the fireworks?
Would it be possible for you to have the presence of mind to view the verbal struggle of another with compassion, or patience or wisdom?
And finally, would it be feasible to take the information gleaned from considering these things and convert it into a positive plan of action, or at least, a planned rational response to the situation?
• Robin Trimingham is an author and thought leader in the field of retirement who specialises in helping corporate groups and individuals understand and prepare for a new life beyond work. Contact her at www.olderhoodgroup.com, 538-8937 or email@example.com