Anger Management 101
December 5, 2014 9:06 AM   Subscribe

Please recommend materials to help me cope with keeping composure during trying times.

I don't know the technical terms for types of anger but for simplicity's sake I'll call it cold and hot anger. Growing up it was considered rude and impolite express emotions unless it's a positive one in front of family, friends, and in public. As a result I rarely let myself express negative emotions instead I'd rely sublimation for example going for walk to think over the problem or writing in my notebooks.

After a brief search I found this site to be helpful for defining anger types.

I didn't have many friends and as result I copied a few of my parent's habits and now i wonder if I can do better. My late father (rarely) became angry or punished me when I messed up as a kid. On the other hand, my mother had is easily angered and had little to no patience during arguments. Interestingly, enough I was more anxious around my late father because in a way he was unpredictable due to me not being able to read his moods.

I've been told by others how I take after my late father in his hobbies and I guess you can also say temperament. Frequently, if I find myself in a bad situation where I can't control the factors like in a classroom, I will shut down and keep a stiff upper lip per se. I will control my anger even if it's justified and just brush off annoyances. Yet after a while it becomes from hot to cold anger which is vindictive. I don't like to fight but instead I will be very caustic towards the person.

Normally, I have a quiet speaking voice and I don't speak often as it takes me awhile to process new info. However, during arguments where I feel strongly for one side my voice is well, louder? It's not completely shouting/screaming but it's strained and I am visibly agitated too. I know being the loudest person in the room doesn't equal to being correct but it's a struggle.

I'm searching for resources to effectively manage negative emotions during heated discussions and other ways to reduce cold anger if that makes sense. Some methods I have already are therapy, medication, exercise, reading, limiting the situation, keeping a notebook, writing journal entries, listening to music, and spending time alone.

For arguments I don't discuss politics or religion due to the controversial nature but there are times where I can't avoid certain topics like my mental health. The most recent issue is when someone insulted me based on my mental health in a public space and then gave me a insincere apology where he completely missed the point why it'd been inappropriate in the first place.
posted by chrono_rabbit to Health & Fitness (3 answers total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
When Anger Scares You: How to Overcome Your Fear of Conflict and Express Your Anger in Healthy Ways has wonderful information about the constructive value of anger (versus the destructiveness of rage) and techniques for expressing anger constructively.

I think the answer to a lot of what you're asking is actually going to be to speak up more, in constructive respectful ways, when you're angry, rather than raging or stuffing it. That book is a really good guide for how to do so.
posted by jaguar at 11:12 AM on December 5, 2014

When I was a lot younger, I was a very angry young woman. I had a lot of legitimate reasons to be very angry, but it was consuming me. At some point in therapy, I dreamed of the bones of a dead lion gnawing on me -- I interpreted it to be about my anger, over something no longer really relevant, still eating me.

I ultimately concluded that anger is not unhealthy per se. Righteous anger is energy for getting things done, for combatting injustices. I found that I stewed if I felt helpless, if I felt there was nothing I could do about the thing making me angry. I learned to respond to anger by clearly identifying why I was angry and then deciding what I was going to do about it. Sometimes that second piece is hard because sometimes it is not possible to just immediately fix whatever is making me angry. But once I have clearly identified why I am angry about something and then decided what I will do about it, I stop stewing. Injustice in the world at large does not simply go away, but I no longer feel helpless and that goes a long way towards having an internal world that is not just boiling over with rage.

My voice also tends to get louder when I am upset (or even excited in a good way) and I have found that working on being physically healthier helps me better modulate my voice. Physical well being also has helped me process all my emotions better. These days, I am less prone to feeling like my feelings are simply overwhelming and too much to take.

I find that anger is worst when a problem directly impacts my quality of life. If I think I am angry about some abstract injustice in the larger world, that is often not really why I feel so strongly about it. I have big feelings because it hits a nerve, basically. So I work on the nerve it hit -- I work on the personal pain point I have. Resolving my own problems has been the single biggest thing to help me feel like justice is achievable and the world is not simply filled with assholes and run by a dark god. I also try to help others with their problems, but I get less invested in that then I used to get. I don't have such big feelings about it these days. I like being helpful, but I learned that if I was simply desperate to help someone else, that was really saying something about what was wrong with my own life. It has worked much better to work on my issues and try to help others where I can but not get too bound up in it.

Here lately, I am also finding that blogging and comicking are good emotional outlets for me. Trying to find a way to express myself publicly so there is some hope others will hear it, instead of just privately writing in a journal. It has taken a lot of years to get to this place, where I feel I have some general idea of how to express myself effectively. It is something I have worked to achieve. But I am at a place where some of what I do makes me feel like I am finding my voice and like it is possible to express myself in a way that adds value to the world and makes me feel not silenced without turning into drama all the time like it used to. So maybe that kind of public expression is not something you are ready for and maybe it is something you will never want, but, for me, that has become a positive experience and makes me feel empowered in a way I have not felt previously. Again: For me, feeling helpless fueled rage. So I think that sense of empowerment is important, that sense of "there is something I can do about this, and it can be constructive, not fighty." That has helped me a lot here lately.

Best of luck.
posted by Michele in California at 3:53 PM on December 5, 2014 [1 favorite]

I think Jaguar and Michele make some really good points.

On the last one, about feeling belittled in public, is understanding that other people can simply just be arseholes!

Its perfectly natural to be angry when someone treats you badly, but I really struggled in my past by dwelling on these slights, which kind of turned them back on me, which wasn't good for me at all.

At the end of the day "it's people with the problem that have the problem" - and it's totally ok for you not to worry, care, acknowledge or engage!
posted by Middlemarch at 10:23 PM on December 5, 2014

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