Bottled up anger is like a hungry and bad-tempered ogre

By: SHADRACK KIRUNGA

I was angry; so angry, that if I hadn’t done it, it would have killed me.”

This young woman was in a counselling session with her husband of six months. She had discovered that he was cheating on her with a woman that had been in their bridal line up on their wedding day. The two had talked about the issue with their pastor, and he had convinced her to forgive him.

On this particular Sunday, however, she saw her husband in the company of the same woman. Her anger boiled over, and she grabbed the woman, and then dragged her all the way to church, up the pulpit, and left her there without uttering a word. You can imagine the shock the congregation was in!

This is what anger is capable of, and today, I will look at how it affects relationships and what we can do about it.

Anger is an emotion which, according to the American Psychological Association (APA), is “characterised by antagonism toward someone or something you feel has deliberately wronged you.”

The anger is directed at someone for known, and sometimes unknown reasons, and depending on intensity and circumstances, the consequences can be serious and very often, regretful.

Expression is the issue

Although anger is seen as negative emotion, it is not necessarily so. The real issue with anger is how it is expressed, and the consequences that such expression has on those involved. In the story above for instance, no one would doubt that the woman in question had every reason to be angry. In the same breath, however, I doubt it did much to heal an already ailing relationship other than assuage her anger. What do you think?

TAMING ANGER

Can such deeply-felt emotion be expressed positively? I believe the answer is yes, but I quickly add that this requires effort and practice to master the skills. The key factor is to recognise that expressing anger inappropriately hurts your relationship, therefore it is important to master it and express it in acceptable ways.

How do you deal with anger?

First, the ogre that is anger grows and explodes when we bottle it up. It then becomes a two-edged sword, hurting the one holding it, as well as the one it is pointed at.

Second, acknowledge that you are angry. Compare this statement with the opening statement by the woman in our story. One is present, the other past. When we acknowledge anger in the present, we prevent situations where we acknowledge it later because that means we are dealing with consequences. Do not deny or ignore anger; it will not go away. When you acknowledge it, you have a better chance of clarifying why you are angry, with whom you are angry at, and what the best action is.

Third, as much as possible, allow the raw emotions to sink before you act. This might require you to withdraw or walk away, or use the age-old technique of counting backward, 10 to zero, to allow whatever you are feeling to sink in. The point is, don’t act in anger.

Fourth, express yourself clearly, indicating why you are angry. Do not use statements such as “You always ” because this seems to attack the other party. Raising your voice, hurling insults or acting violently all worsen the situation and often lead to many unintended consequences.

In conclusion, we can deal with anger by consistently dealing with issues as they arise, so that we can prevent anger from piling up. The fact is that anger is unavoidable; it is part of life and part of our relationships. When it comes therefore, we should take responsibility and ensure that we do not hurt ourselves, our partners and our relationships, by how we express it.

SOURCE: DAILY NATION