How I learned to manage my Anger
How I learned to manage my anger
When you are being mistreated, it is natural that you feel angry. Anger is a natural reaction to many kinds of mistreatment. You may find yourself angry at injustice, at being called names, at being abused, being made fun of or even being ignored. Each kind of mistreatment brings its own kind of anger with it.
I wish that there was one way to manage anger. I have not found the ‘magic bullet’ or one answer that solves all anger. Although there are reports that medications are being used more often to deal with anger, I think that only masks the anger. Medications only calm down the explosion, but they do not take away the anger. The thinking behind such pills is that if they can keep key chemical reactions from taking place in your body, you will not get angry. To me, such an approach only masks the anger. The pills only make you calm on the outside. It is not doing anything about the rage inside.
I often found myself getting angry when people were yelling at me. It bothered me when the yelling began. It felt like I was being talked down to. In many ways, the yelling was harder to take than the name calling or put downs. In talking with others, I have found that many of you are also angry at yelling. Although yelling is often excused by the people doing it, the excuses do not take away the pain. The excuses also do not take away my anger either. The yelling was like a blast being directed at me. It often left me feeling like I had been blasted or had something thrown at me.
My first reaction in response to being yelled at was to yell back. I discovered that yelling only brings more yelling. I tried the opposite. I talked calmer and slower. Surprisingly, in many cases, it calmed me down and started turning the situations around.
Another trigger for anger is when I was being put down or called names. When it was strangers doing it, they can be ignored. When it is your parents or family members, you are often trapped. When they say such things, it hurts. With family, my protective walls are kept low. Since they are family, I am vulnerable. Although I wish family members did not take advantage of others, there are some that do. In my case, the abuser took advantage of her special place in my life. Since I was vulnerable around her, she hurt me again and again. I was angry at myself and her. I was mad at myself for being vulnerable and stupidly let the hurt come in again. I was mad at her for taking advantage of the hurt.
In dealing with my anger in this case, I did several things. I tried blocking out the voice of the abuser. With enough noise, I did not hear what was being said. In the early days, I turned up the stereo to block it out. I also learned to create noise in my head to block out what was being said. The blocking worked for a while. I eventually had to set boundaries and barriers to avoid being around the abuser when they resorted to the name calling and put downs.
Later in life, I learned about the power of ‘questioning the authority’ of the abuser. They would say mean things, and in my mind, I asked “What authority do they have?”, “Do they really know what they are talking about?”. Knowing that they often did not know what they were talking about, I was able to ignore them. The answer had been in front of me for years, but I had not seen it. I was able to ignore the strangers because they did not know what they were talking about. They did not know me, so I could ignore them and not think twice about it. When I realized that the family abuser did not know what they were talking about I was able to ignore them as well. What made it better, was that I was not angry either.
I also had to spend some time ‘negating’ or cancelling out the negative messages directed at me over time. Whenever I dwelt on those things, the hurt and eventually the anger returned. A therapist told me that it takes seven positive messages to cancel out one negative message. In order to keep the anger away, I had to change the messages or ‘programming’ that the abuse brought. In my case, it was limited to hurtful words. I am sure that if you have had physical abuse it will take more negating. I found that I had to use the negating with pictures of the abuser along with objects that reminded me of her as well. Whether or not it is scientific, I started viewing objects as either having good vibes or associations and those that either drained me or had negative associations. When surrounded by negative or draining objects, it did not take long to get angry. After removing those images and objects, I experienced fewer problems with anger.
These are some of the lessons I learned from dealing with abusive family relations and the resulting anger.