Paul Cockayne – 07791 970406 – email@example.com
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What makes you angry? Why does it make you angry? What do you do when you’re angry? Can you stop getting angry?
If you have read any of my blogs before it won’t surprise you that I think everyone is different and so there isn’t one, single, simple set of answers to these questions. But there are some common themes, I think.
The exact feelings you get when you are angry will vary. I get a knotted feeling in my stomach, like a clenched fist or a tightly wound ball of wool. And it’s a bit like a jack-in-the-box in that it feels as if taking the lid off could see something grotesque springing out in an uncontrolled way. Clients I have worked with have described their anger in a different way – “seeing red” is a common theme – a visual expression of the emotion. Loud noise is often a component, too.
It seems that often, when they are angry, people have a feeling that there is something inside them that they don’t want, that they want to get rid of. In my case, it’s that clenched fist in my stomach. I want to reach inside myself, grab it and hurl it away. The emotion seems to produce a physical need to act urgently, and I think that is why, sometimes, anger can lead to shouting and violence.
The clenched fist itself is not, I think, anger. Anger is my way of reacting to the fist, or to the need to get rid of the fist. That fist, or its equivalent in other people, can be produced in different ways. Being criticized, being treated unfairly, being ignored, being told what to do – all these are things that might produce your “fist” – and there are of course, many more examples.
The root causes of our anger are all different and often can be traced back to our childhood – things that scared or hurt us as children, I think, can produce an intense emotion that we don’t understand, that we need to get rid off, that make us angry.
We talk about “having our buttons pushed” and that’s a very good analogy. The button sits inside us, waiting to be pushed, and when it gets pushed, it sets off a reaction that we can’t control. Or can we?
Certainly I think we can learn to manage our anger better. One important element of this is to spot the early warning signs. It can seem as if our anger rises out of nothing, but I think that is something we can change. Often people damp down, or ignore the early warning signs – and then erupt suddenly. Being aware of the danger signs – spotting the fist when it first starts to form – is an important step in being able to manage our anger better.
If a particular person is making us angry, it may be possible to talk to them about it and ask them to approach situations a bit differently, so that they don’t press our buttons so often or so hard. If particular situations make us angry we can try to avoid them or change them – if you suffer road rage it can help to have some calming music on – if you hate queuing, buy a newspaper to read while you’re in the queue.
Going back to, and talking about, childhood experiences can also be helpful. These may be the seeds of your anger. Talking about those experiences can’t take them away, but it can often, I think, help to separate them from what is happening now.