Take a moment and think about the last time somebody made you angry. What did you do? Maybe you yelled. Maybe you slammed a door, or worse, got violent with somebody you love.
Conventional wisdom tells us that when we’re angry, we should just let it out. But that may actually be the worst thing a man can do, says Newton Hightower, a Psychotherapist.
In his book, Anger Busting 101: The new ABCs for angry man and the women who love them, he explains that the popular psychological theories that suggest a need for mental and physical health don’t hold up under scrutiny.
He notes that there are many men who have become addicted to the expression of anger. He calls these men “rageholics.”
A recovering rageholic himself, who learned principles that helped him deal with his anger, the psychotherapist says the old methods of hitting pillows, screaming to the point of exhaustion only makes things worse.
There are many myths about anger that may make it harder for you to change habits and behaviours. But the psychotherapist has these suggestions for people who want to get a handle on their anger.
The all-time, fail-proof, safest action when you feel anger well up inside is silence. You may abstain from speaking by stopping the thoughts that build up the steam. Stop telling yourself: “I’m not going to just sit here and let him/her talk to me that way!”. Either change your internal dialogue or learn to shut it off.
What does “stop staying” mean? It means leave the scene quickly and quietly because once you get angry, you won’t be able to restrain yourself from speaking and you probably won’t be able to leave.
Many angry people use staring and the “evil eye” to intimidate those around them. This kind of behaviour has led to more than a few severe beatings and even deaths.
Glaring is a primitive fight response and is often a precursor to physical violence.
It is sometimes impossible to tell who is interrupting who when anger begins to rise. It is important not to interrupt and to allow others interrupt you. But this is the one thing that angry people can’t stand.
If someone interrupts you, you must allow it. If interrupted, you need to go back to Rule 1: Abstain from speaking. If you are getting angry, then you shouldn’t stay.
Cursing inflames your anger. If you were to have a temper tantrum without profanity or cursing, there would be likely any biochemical change in your blood-flow.
But if you were to add cursing to your temper tantrum you will find a biochemical change. These changes would occur because the use of profanity or cursing starts the adrenaline flowing.
Stop Name-calling, no matter what!
Name-calling hurts others, and it raises your anger level. You need to stop using not only the vile crude names, but also words such as “stupid” and “crazy.”
Using those words inflames an argument. Name-calling is a destructive element in a relationship. If you call your wife a bad name, there’s no going back. It could take months for her to recover.
Don’t say: “I didn’t mean it when I called her those names. She understands that I was just angry.” Angry people don’t understand the level of destruction caused when they call their partners (or anyone) a name.
Stop saying: “You are not going to talk to me that way. I don’t take that kind of talk from anyone.” Those threats imply, “I will hurt you.” Subtle threats wreak havoc.
Pointing a finger at someone is frequently an unconscious behaviour. You might need to ask your friends to tell you when you are doing this. Instead of pointing, you need to look at yourself. Note that when you point a finger, one finger is pointing out while other fingers are pointing back at you.
Like other self-destructive behaviours, raising your voice and yelling only fuels your anger. You may be unaware of how loud you are talking. It is important therefore for friends, family and therapists to intervene early when you begin to raise your voice.
They can say something like: “You are beginning to raise your voice. Please lower it.” Don’t argue: “Hey, I wasn’t yelling or anything. This is how I normally talk.”
Instead, your appropriate response should be: “You’re right. Thanks for pointing it out.” Having others point out when you are raising your voice and yelling will help you monitor your behaviour.
Stop Throwing Things!
Don’t ever tell yourself, it’s just a way to let off steam!. Stop throwing things such as pillows, keys and other objects. All objects including shirts, jackets and underwear should also not be thrown.
Throwing is an aggressive act that is perceived as threatening and intimidating by those around you. Throwing things, regardless of how harmless the objects are, fuels your anger.
Stop Slamming the door
Slamming a door shut is the ultimate “last word.” It says that you won’t stick to work things out. Slamming doors is also a goood way to infuriate your partner or family members.
Stop telling ‘hero stories’
Hero stories are stories we tell about how we lost our temper or made a sarcastic remark. When we retell the story, it makes us look like a hero for standing against someone.
Seldom do we tell these stories with shame; mostly, we tell these stories with pride. It’s as if we are waiting for our audience to say, “What a man,” or “Yeah, you really told her off.” Often, we find ourselves using profanity when telling and retelling the story.
Stop saying, “I just wanted you to understand what really happened.” And, “I did pretty good considering the fact that I was provoked.” Hero stories only fuel anger by making us look bigger than we really are. They often hide pain, anguish and fear.
For angry men, abstaining from anger is difficult and painful. But the rewards that will come in your relationships and in your work life will make it worth it.