Lesson 7: How do we handle anger?
To highlight the potential consequences of anger that is seemingly a regular behaviour for most people and to provide them with tools to manage it in a healthier way. This would also contribute to them being less stressful.
What is anger?
A- It is a strong feeling of annoyance, displeasure, or hostility. It is considered as the most difficult emotion to handle. It is often the major cause of broken relationships/friendships
B- It is a feeling or emotion experienced at times by everyone and varies in intensity
Physical Consequences of Anger:
As discussed in Lesson 1 in relation to stress, anger can increase the production of hormones such as adrenaline and noradrenaline.
This would cause our body’s ability to fight diseases, can lead to raised blood pressure and even heart attacks.
Excess stress hormones and fats stoke up cholesterol and can clog blood vessels.
Triggers of Anger:
1. Injustice - lack of fairness to ourselves, other people, or other things
2. Betrayal and Broken Trust
3. Failure and Not Achieving
4. Disrespect to our personal values: challenging political views, moral injuries to our value system
5. Frustration to our goals being blocked
6. Rejection - Feelings of being undervalued, criticized, shamed, guilty
7. Unhealed Hurts - Childhood hurts and pain
8. Behavioral Patterns - Result of environmental factors: e.g. growing with parents who are angry.
-Defense Mechanism: e.g. some people hurt so much and they don’t want anyone near them. They are actually defending their pain.
-Control Mechanism- a way to at least assert some control over the situation.
Some Conclusions About Anger:
A- Since it’s a feeling, it’s neither right nor wrong in itself. Like all emotional responses, it is giving us a message about ourselves. The thoughts and mindsets contributing to the feelings of anger may in some circumstances become unhealthy.
B- Therefore, we need to identify and separate from the feelings of anger and its unhealthy consequences in our attitudes and actions.
C- We need to examine the causes of anger, the effects, results of outworking of anger.
D- We need to recognise that unresolved issues, hurts and actions of the past will continue to feed anger.
E- We need to recognise that unresolved past hurts can affect the way we think about ourselves and others. These ways of thinking can provoke us to anger.
How do we handle our anger currently?
It is important to be able to recognise if we have difficulty handling anger.
A- Common unhealthy patterns:
i- Denial and burial, e.g. people take it onto themselves, which could lead to depression.
ii- Avoid or ignore
iii- Accumulation of anger: Such as spurts or depression –perhaps due to anger turned in on oneself.
Iv - Bargaining- Wishing that the event was different
B- What are the common indicators if there is a problem with anger in our lives currently?
i- Attitudes against self, others, everybody
ii- Control of anger to protect
iii- Criticism, e.g. harsh words against others, often behind the person’s back.
iv- Aggressiveness and/or hostility
vii- Frustration against others, things or oneself
viii- Perfectionism: Accumulative disappointments, not achieving
Hence, there is a need to take responsibility to manage our behaviour in the face of anger. Anger will not dissipate by itself. Like energy, it will be stored up and eventually it will find a way of being expressed, like a battery leaking.
What are some of the unhealthy expressions of anger?
Here you can ask students to respond for interaction: For example, taking anger out on others (innocent people around us), trashing property, blame shifting, stuffing (i.e. pushing it down, like pressure cooker), wrongful conversations (i.e. gossip), self harm, etc.
What could be some healthy expressions of anger?
A- Admit the problem
B- Choose to handle it in a healthy way
C- Start the process of forgiveness
D- Connect with the root of the anger
E- Find safe ways to vent anger
What happens after the expressions of anger?
You make sure the anger containers are empty! Now the healing process can begin…
A- Acknowledge the problem
B- Analyze the problem
C- Forgive those who have caused you to feel angry
D- Turn away from any unhealthy response that you might have expressed out of your anger
E- Apologize and reconcile where possible.
Healing from rejection and any other hurt could involve similar steps.
How can we handle ongoing situations?
Conflicts and differences of opinion in relationships are a fact of life. They can result in feelings of frustration and anger. Improving the way we relate to one another can diffuse and prevent the build of anger.
How do we handle conflict?
A- How do we handle conflict?
iii- Do we avoid confrontation?
iv- Do we vent anger at others?
v- Do we choose to overlook the offense without becoming a doormat?
vii- Are we fearful of confrontation?
viii- Are we fearful of hostile reaction to confrontation?
ix- Do we need to ask for help from someone else?
What are some healthy steps towards resolving conflict?
i- Allow the person to be real about their emotions
ii- Encourage and help them to express their emotions in a healthy way
iii- Be honest with the person regarding their behaviour
iv- Do not become a subject of control
v- Analyze the problem and try to find a medium ground
vi- Set boundaries and establish rules where necessary
vii- Terminate discussion if no progress being made
Recovering from past conflict situations
i- Be real about the past hurt, pain and damage
ii- If you were in the wrong, accept the wrongdoing and turn away from it, telling how you will do better next time.
iii- Apologize and reconcile where possible
iv- Work on rebuilding trust by communicating in non threatening ways and being open to challenge about your own behaviour.
Maintaining a healthy approach to anger
A- Live in reality, not denial.
Ask a caring adult for advice
B- Choose to deal with anger as it comes
C- Be humble (down to earth heart attitude)
D- Avoid the temptation to rationalize anger
E- Take full responsibility for your behavior
F- Be wise: Ask yourself:
i- Why am I feeling angry?
ii- What am I angry about?
iii- Is it OK to feel angry about this situation?
iv- Have I somehow got a distorted picture of what is going on?
v- Am I allowing past events in my life to influence my feelings about current situations?
G- Remember that the person who annoyed you may be going through some hardship themselves. Their behavior might be a consequence of it. Try to develop some compassion towards them where possible.
How can you control your anger?
A- Make a choice to control your anger
B- Choose to deal with the small issues before they build into resentment
C- Choose to control and restrain your words/thoughts/actions.
End of Lesson Activity
Divide into groups of 2-3 people and consider the last time you reacted out of anger:
1- What happened that caused you to feel angry?
2- What other emotions were you feeling?
3- What factors may have contributed to your feelings of anger?
4- How do you feel now about the way you reacted?
5- How could you have reacted differently?
6- How do you feel now about the way you reacted?
7- Were your reactions justified?
8- If you were on the wrong, are you ready to turn away from this kind of outburst and apologize and reconcile?
9- Have you forgiven the person/people involved?
10- Have you forgiven yourself?
If you feel comfortable to answer these questions, share your experiences with each other. If you need help and talk to someone more senior, try to see one of your teachers or guidance counselors where necessary.