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Some Basic Anger-Management Techniques

10 May 2011 No Comment

african american couple arguing

Anger is a BIG problem: it can destroy trust, damage relationships, cripple a child’s self-esteem, get us into situations with law enforcement and countless other “unpleasant” circumstances, so let’s talk for a second about how we can avoid and prevent anger, as well as tranquilize it whenever it comes up…

What’s funny to me is how even though everybody recognizes anger as a destructive force, almost nobody thinks about how to channel it in healthier, productive ways. Unfortunately, most of us never think beyond the simple, obvious triggers, so we end up saying things like:

anger management strategies for black couples“Just make sure you don’t bring Cynthia around Jasmine, cause they’re always going to fire off on one another…”

“I’ve learned to watch what I say around Paul, cause he’s cool, but he can get kind of ill at times too… “ etc. etc.

Now don’t get me wrong – when a situation is ugly, it’s UGLY, so I’m down for taking whatever measures need to be taken to prevent it happening, but what I’ve also learned is that anger is actually more of an indicator then a “problem” in and of itself…that we actually use anger for A LOT of reasons, like:

>> to get attention,

>> to vent frustration and confusion,

>> to intimidate other people when WE feel vulnerable, and so on…

Also, while you might not get the person to read this blog post, remember that the best way to teach is to lead by example…

By becoming a truly calm and even-tempered person, you’ll trigger that higher nature in everyone around you. So let’s start by making sure we know how to deal with the anger in ourselves FIRST, and then let that automatically emanate outward.

two african american martial artists

I’ve found that if you simply say to someone (at the appropriate time, of course) “Y’know, I’m trying to learn better ways to deal with my anger” it’ll register, and they’ll think, “Yeah…I really need to get myself under control too, cause I’m messing up right now.”

At our deepest core, all of us really want peace and happiness. Our issues with anger come from repressed needs, confused dramas and other hidden things we just need to uncover…so let’s get started

Tip 1: Grow in Assertiveness, Consciously

Take it upon yourself to GRADUALLY LEARN assertiveness. Start by being assertive and honest about a minor issue at least once each and every day…

Again, anger can generate as a response to pent-up stress a small thing built up over time. Brad Blanton, author of Radical Honesty, once said something to the effect of “Even 10 or 15 years of resentment can usually be cleared in 30 seconds of honest talk…,” so keep that in mind.

Here’s a quick scenario of how this can play out:

black woman handling anger1.) Something you dislike happens on a small scale but you ignore it (because “it’s not such a big deal…” and you “don’t want to be annoying about it.”)

2.) That thing adds up, multiplies or extends until it gets to a point where you say “I can’t take this s__ anymore…”, and

3.) This built-up stress bursts out into hostility, anger or passive-aggressive behavior (i.e. you end up looking crazy)…I blogged about assertiveness skills a few months back, saying:

“…it’s hard to just use your words to solve problems when you’re mad. When your mad, your amygdala (the part of your brain’s “limbic system” responsible for processing emotions) diverts your minds resources in order to keep your anger burning.

So interestingly, at the times when you most need to be assertive, your brain’s CEO (logic) is less available to you because the amygdala forces it to rationalize your anger and keep that norepinephrine (a hormone underlying the “fight-or-flight” response) pumping…”

Amygdala part of limbic system

(In that blog, I broke down a simple, 4-step process for becoming a more assertive person, so check it out to learn more.)

Tip 2: Read Anger to Find Deeper Causation

You should also identify the source so that you can direct your energy on solutions.

This sounds simple enough, but it’s not: basically, you have to focus on WHY you’re mad instead of just trying to just stop it. It’s counter-intuitive, but you have to stop telling yourself “I need to stop getting so mad…” and find out what the anger’s trying to teach you.

isolated black man in solitudeIf you’re around people who constantly say “you have anger issues,” it’s difficult because no one identifies with you and how you feel – you’re in a position where you have to teach yourself SELF-COMPASSION amidst others who may at some level resent you (or give off the impression that they no longer care).

It’s difficult for them to deal with you too, of course, and you should honor that, but what I’m saying here is that your anger INDICATES a deeper-level concern, so you need honor that too and start looking at it as a healthy response…

This means INTENSE REFLECTION, and solitude when you’re able to objectively think about your anger, stress and despair in a space completely free from anyone else’s input.

Also, in our 21st-century society, the cause and effect relationship for anger (and many other issues) can get very interesting and complex.

For instance, a well-known, presitigous college professor at NYU might suffer from “status confusion,” because while he’s at work, he’s a high-status, well-respected, powerful social figure, but on his subway commute home, he’s virtually a nobody, and when he gets home, his wife and family disrespect him as well…

new york city subway anger management

This could create a conflict in his self-image – a disoriented identity where he feels confused, inadequate and even fraudulent as a human being (all of which may be dealt with through anger, withdrawal, addiction, etc.)

Likewise, our society has us all playing MULTIPLE ROLES, and for some of us, the conflict between these roles creates too much of a tension to handle without being directly addressed, because the human psyche has a need for a coherent self-concept. It’s deep…

daniel goleman's social intelligence as it applies to anger managementRight now is the first time in history where status has been such a dynamic, constantly changing and unidentified thing. If this sounds minuscule or a little too far-fetched for you, check out Daniel Goleman’s Social Intelligence: The New Science of Human Relationships for more…

With the professor, he’d have to build social skills that him establish status and gain respect OUTSIDE of the work environment…this would lead him towards a more congruent self-image.

Essentially, the thing to do here is to reflect on the causation, and then create techniques from there.

Typically, anger – especially in males – indicates a feeling of dis-empowerment, so for him to “manage” it, he has to find ways to empower himself and raise his sense of self-perceived status (while respecting the needs and boundaries of others.)

black men learning anger management

Once he reads his anger (understands it’s true cause), it motivates him to re-direct his energies towards becoming a more mature man…

I may be doing more on anger-management soon. Click here for more details on the blog talk radio show, “Simple Steps to REDUCE STRESS…


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