Wednesday, August 09, 2006
Coping with anger when things come to a head - utk org macam aku
Anger. There's nothing nice about it. A few people enjoy it, some are addicted to it, but most people try to hide their anger, sometimes so completely and instinctively that they don't even feel it.
What if anger was a good thing? What if it, like the pain of a twisted ankle, was a signal that something is wrong?
Even for the rage-aholic, anger signals a real problem that needs to be addressed. Usually it's a sense of insecurity and shame that creates a need for the narcissistic, temporary power of going berserk. For that explosive moment, everyone gives you the focused attention you crave, and you feel better, your sense of unworthiness diminished - until that insecurity rises into consciousness again. Then the destructive cycle repeats. This type of anger is a signal that a healthy sense of self with boundaries needs to be developed.
And for those at the other end of the spectrum who try to hide their anger? Well, it may reappear in the form of depression, obsession with appearance, or an adherence to highly structured, rule-bound groups or activities. Again, it's a sign that someone's sense of self is diminished (that they're insecure), which requires acknowledging (followed by working to build self-worth).
Luckily, while you're in the process, there are some coping strategies:
Figure it out!
What's really eating you? Are you avoiding something? Hiding something? Afraid of abandonment? Not taking responsibility for your life? Deep down, you have an inkling of the problem, and the first step is recognizing it.
Is it worth it?
Sure, that car just cut you off in traffic, but is it worth getting in an accident, or fighting with a psychotic who's got road rage? Is it worth the energy it takes to be this angry over something that in the long view is insignificant? Ask yourself would you be angry if you knew that that car was racing to the hospital to get to their unconscious child? Is it possible to decide to be grateful that they didn't hit your car and focus instead on things that do matter?
Axe the adrenaline
You're at work, you're angry, your heart is pounding, your face is hot and your back is rigid. Now what? In many cases it's not a good idea to explode. If at all possible, remove yourself from the situation for 20 minutes, which is the amount of time it takes to recover from a surge of adrenaline. Go for a short walk, or go to the parking garage and practice deep breathing. Acknowledge that you're angry, note the reasons why, and weigh your possible responses.
Feel the power
When you're in a place where you can really experience your anger safely, rather than pushing it aside with a cigarette, a cocktail or a large piece of cake, sit with it. Feel it. Explore it. Enter it and stay with it. Don't think your way out of it, just be with it for a few minutes. This may well be the first time you've just sat in your anger since you were a child. Anger is just a feeling and given a bit of time and space, it changes -- then dissipates. Anger, truly experienced, can become the motivating energy for necessary change.
Be the change
Once you've taken the time to really experience your anger, it often follows that you know exactly what you need to do, or change, or work on to get to the cause of the anger. Use the power of your anger's energy to make a plan and act on it. Also, when you're sure that you're thinking clearly, examine the potential consequences of your actions. Try to choose what will truly benefit you over other perhaps more tempting actions, like revenge.
Stand in judgment
Now that you've moved through your anger, decided what needs to change, and how to make that happen, ask yourself how you handled all of these steps. What could you do differently? Giving yourself time to reflect allows you to develop ever-greater facility with anger and then a fuller, richer, more authentic life.
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