By Sandy Long
Everyone has a temper, some are slow to anger, some can get angry in a heartbeat. Controlling that anger is where the key lies. Anger control should be learned as children and taught by parents, this is learned behavior for children, or should be. Unfortunately, many children are not taught how to handle anger constructively.
Anne (an alias) was born to a woman who had lost a child nine months before Anne’s birth and who had been sexually abused by her father, Anne’s grandfather. Outwardly, Anne’s mom was the perfect lady, inwardly, she was a seething mass of anger that she had little control over in private. Anne grew up being physically and mentally abused. She was expected to present a cheerful face at all times, never to cry, or show any sadness or hurt, if she did, the abuse was intensified. She learned to pack away those emotions.
By the time Anne got to be a teenager, she was also filled with anger and did not have a clue how to deal with it, except to lose her temper violently at times when it became overwhelming. She was just like her mother in that aspect, it was what she learned after all, at her mother’s knee. Most of the anger, Anne directed towards herself, as a young adult, she exhibited self-destructive, self-defeating behavior. She got into drugs, alcohol and promiscuous behavior, she became a runner, a person who ran from problems when they got too bad. This went on for years, until Anne finally accepted the fact that she needed help, so sought counselling with a professional.
Anne had to literally go back and learn what she should have learned as a child, it was ok to feel emotions as they occurred so they did not get packed away and how to deal with them. No one is happy all of the time and it is ok. Anne and her counsellor developed a procedure for Anne to deal with anger. If Anne felt anger, she learned to stop a minute and think about why she was angry and if it was justified, then she learned how to communicate that anger constructively to solve the issue rather than get violent. It was hard work, and took years, but Anne persevered, and while she still occasionally has some issues, she is able to deal with her emotions.
Uncontrolled rage and anger is seen more often these days in violent acts of road rage, going postal, and in hate crimes. Are all the perpetrators like Anne, of course not, many come from the flip side of the coin. These are people who think only they matter, that their emotions override everyone else’s, many refer to this as thoughts of entitlement. It is Joes’ road he is driving on, how dare someone block him for two seconds, he rams their car, or attacks them. Sally is harassed at her job, instead of working through the issues, she brings a gun to work to shoot her co-workers who she feels hurt her. Riots with looting and destruction break out due to an election, people are injured, businesses are destroyed.
These types are the result of poor education as children too. Parents are too busy often times to spend quality time with their children, so give into their every wish. Schools allow children to be disrespectful towards teachers, bus drivers and other children out of fear of litigation. Furthermore, children are no longer taught it is how you play the game, not whether one wins something for just participating. Without intervention, they grow up to think that they are therefore they deserve.
There are times when anger is justified, if someone is injuring someone else for instance. However, if the anger is ruling someone’s life, and making them and their associates miserable, it is time to find help to deal with it, before someone is injured badly. Anger management counselling and coaching is available for those who seek it out. Like Anne, one might need to go back and deal with childhood abuse and relearn the basics. Whatever it takes, it is worth it not to have to deal with the stress of being perpetually in a rage, or angry all of the time. Life will become much more peaceful and fulfilling.