help for poor anger management
When I was a young teen, I remember getting so frustrated with trying to solve an algebraic equation that in anger I broke my pencil. My teacher then gave me the advice to practice taking breaks from problems I couldn’t solve and coming back to them. Specifically, he shared with me to accept that I couldn’t solve the problem then take a break from the problem, and in situations where feasible, sleep on the problem.
From then on, when I couldn’t solve a math problem and I came to a place of acceptance, I found myself more at peace with the situation when I took a break from the problem. Nine out of ten times when I came back to the problem, I would have a fresh perspective on the problem leading me to solving the equation.
It is easy for us to get angry at things that don’t go our way, but even more challenging being able to admit that the anger we experience is a sign that we are experiencing a situation that calls for us to use our problem solving skills. Often times I either read or hear about people calling for others to get angry when their rights are being violated. The funny thing is, that you don’t need to get angry when your rights are being violated, it is a natural reaction. The question is what are you going to do about it?
It actually takes more courage to put aside your anger in order to access the prefrontal cortex of your brain to solve a problem. If you find yourself getting angry and perhaps hostile in response to any type of disrespect towards you, it is because you did a quick risk assessment and determined that you would not experience major penalties for acting in aggression, or that you could afford to experience major penalties for acting in aggression.
This is why people who come face to face with others who are equipped to respond with even more hostility, then to go the passive route. It is much similar to an angry and unruly child, who becomes passive and quiet upon encountering an adult disciplinarian. When we attempt to solve problems from the primitive region of our brains we either go into a fight or flight mode, specifically a flight mode when faced with overwhelming force from the opposition.
This is why go to war units in the military train soldiers to not respond with anger when faced with things not going their way but with assertiveness. Not being angry does not mean that you don’t get upset when things are not going your way, nor does it mean that you go into denial mode and pretend to be happy. The best response to dealing with things not going your way, is to get past your feelings of anger, acknowledge the situation for what it is, and assertively go about in addressing it.
If you are reading this and asking yourself how this can be done, I provide the answer to that question in my book, Anger Management 101: Taming the Beast Within.
Ugo is a psychotherapist and life coach.
I recently received an email request for advice on how to respond to passive aggressiveness. So without further delay I will go into it.
People who practice passive aggressiveness do so from a place of power and control. They don’t want to lose the relationship, but at the same time they want to find creative and passive ways to hurt the feelings of the person who has annoyed them.
The best way to respond to passive aggressiveness is to be straight forward. However, in order for your straight forward-ness to be effective, you have to regard the person with whom you are addressing with dignity and respect.
Take for example, once there was a situation that occurred between myself and a company commander during my time in the military. The commander of my company in the presence of some platoon sergeants hoped out loud that the new soldier coming into the company was a logistics specialist, he further added,
“I hope he has a brain too.”
You see, my military occupation was in the field of logistics, I was in charge of maintaining a balanced property book of the company supplies and equipment which were worth in the millions of dollars. Essentially my job was to maintain a factual balance between what was documented on the property books and what was actually stored on the company premises.
It was no secret that the company commander at the time had a strong disliking towards me. Upon the commander’s passive aggressive remarks, following the laughter of the platoon sergeants, I was left feeling angry and embarrassed. Essentially the company commander, was declaring me to be incompetent at my job. I would later vent to my immediate supervisor, who gave me a suggestion that changed my attitude towards dealing with passive aggressiveness.
I wrote a letter to my commander, in which I copied to my supervisor. In the letter, I confronted my commander about his statement the day before, and my interpretation of his statement. I then went on to detail my accomplishments since arriving in the unit, specifically having to do with how consistently I had maintained accountability of the company property. In the letter I requested that the commander address issues he had with my performance and suggestions for improvement.
The commander would immediately approach me in the presence of the company First sergeant and my supervisor and inform me that his words where taken out of context. Further, he claimed he found me to be a great logistics specialist.
While I am certain, that the commander never stopped disliking me, it appeared that he had developed a new found respect for me after my response to his remarks. He would never again make passive and aggressive double sided comments to me again for the remainder of the time we worked together.
In summary, passive aggressiveness directed towards you, is an invitation to play a deceitful game of cat and mouse. If you find yourself on the receiving end of such an invitation, taking a straight forward approach voids the invitation.
So what are your thoughts and feelings about this post? All agreements and disagreements are most welcome.