reasonable question, expressing your concern about the issue, saying what good
outcome you are hoping for in this discussion, etc. If you want to communicate,
approach the other person in a calm, reasonable, even friendly manner.
Anger puts you on the attack with other people and on the defensive about yourself.
Truth is lost when everything you say can be used against you
or against them.
Feelings of care and love get transformed into feelings of hatred and thoughts of
hurting other people. Anger is a habit and a well embedded habit is very hard to
stop, especially when the participants are under attack.
Lynne Namka (2002), How to Let Go of Your Mad Baggage
Lynne Namka takes a different approach to learning anger-control than the last two
self-help authors. She relies more on careful internal self-observations (in the form
of exercises) rather than on describing the therapists methods of giving you insight
in the hopes you will see what is going on in your mind. Lynne is the author of
several books about anger in children and in families (See Amazon). She says anger
is just an emotion, neither good nor bad, but if it is expressed in a raw, hurtful
manner, it can be very distressing. Anger is not well understood by the average
person, partly because it is very complex and there is little research and partly
because it is a taboo topic in school and often hard to talk about within families or
among friends. It is socially acceptable to say my three-year-old has a terrible
temper but it is not easy to say my 11-year-old daughter or my 40-year-old
husband/wife has really scary fits of rage.
Your parents probably didnt know how to deal with anger. They may have exploded,
which could have been very frightening to you as a childyou may have thought
they might hurt you or someone else; you may have worried that they would
abandon you; you may have wanted to hurt them back. Or, your parents may have
stuffed their anger down inside and hidden it, giving you the idea that anger is bad
or dangerous and to be avoided at all costs. In either of these contexts you started
to believe that anger should be dealt with in certain ways. There was probably little
help for the family to learn good ways to handle anger and, thus, you were unlikely
to learn good techniques for dealing with anger. Just being encouraged to read one
of the many books for children about anger might have been very helpful, e.g.
Namkas, How to Let Go of Your Mad Baggage. Most authors would agree that all of
us starting at age 3 or so should have an Anger Control Workshop every few years,
perhaps for the rest of our lives.
As we have already learned, there are many unhealthy ways anger can be used. For
one thing, research shows that frequent and chronic expressions of anger over the
years are associated with generally poor physical health, especially heart disease,
high blood pressure, and strokes.. Sometimes a person uses anger to hide from
themselves or to avoid feeling shame or guilt. Perhaps they are feeling critical of
themselves because they havent performed well but their way of handling this
disappointment in themselves is to attack or criticize or blame someone else. This
doesnt usually work well; it doesnt reduce their guilt or the shame about
themselves. In fact, it often doubles these emotions because one is now mad at
someone else as well as with ones self. Another unhealthy example is when the
negative feelings you feel towards yourself get attributed to or projected (in order
to distract you from your own self-criticism) on to someone else and you become