WE ALL HAVE EMOTIONS. WE ALL GET ANGRY SOMETIMES.
1. What is anger?
Some people say that in spelling A-nger there is only one letter “D” which is missing from D-anger; or anger is one letter short of danger. Others describe anger as: “When I am angry, I see red.” or “I lose control. I can’t even remember what I did when I was angry,” “I don’t know why I was so worked up.” “I felt like I wanted to just fight.” Some have been heard repeating, “I reach a boiling point”. In this mix there are a few individuals who seem to get angrier than the precipitating event. We say they make a mountain out of an ants’ hill. Have you heard someone repeat, “I get angry at the drop of a hat” To be honest, during COVID-19 and BLM protests, people seem to be getting kind of worked up over something, anything or nothing. Tip #1: Name what makes you angry-List 7-10 things?
Anger is a Natural Human Emotion: It is pretty much like joy, peace, happiness, sadness, fear, and surprise. Since every human being has emotions, this then means that all human beings have the potential to get angry. It is, therefore, important to learn how to manage your emotions without placing them or blaming others. The word of God reminds us, “to be angry and sin not.” (Ephesians 4:26). In Galatians 5 anger is referred to as “the works of the flesh.” Fathers are cautioned not to provoke their children to anger (Ephesians 6:4). So, we all get angry at something, at someone, or just a feeling like an angry mood.
2. Is Anger good or bad?
Anger is neither good nor bad. If you are angry and exercise self-control, perhaps anger can work for you. But if you lose control and act stupid, you might have to regret. So, we cannot say that anger is good or bad. Instead we can accept that it all depends on how you respond when you are angry. You can use your anger to your advantage, like go for a short walk, join a running group. But remember “being mad” in Africa can also mean you have lost your mind; that you are crazy, gone bananas, or you are mentally ill either permanently or temporarily. So don’t tell an angry person that they are mad or crazy as this might escalate the issue. Tip #2: Anger is not good or bad, it all depends on how you use it.
3. What Makes you Angry?
If everything is held constant, out of 100%, the things or issues that make you angry might amount to about 10%. If you came to the United States as an adult this might not be helpful. Instead you may want to learn how to use your accent to accentuate the positive in your life. I remember Dr. Okello’s message at KCFA July Conference (2015), “Accents converge in adoration, worship.” Highlight the positive. That leaves you with 90% which is under your control. This then means that you are responsible for your actions, and essentially responsible for how you respond when you are angry. It is fine that you have intense emotions, but you own them. Refuse to use your life situation as an excuse for being angry and acting out. Refuse to use your sickness, your background, your ethnicity, or current events as an excuse. Instead learn to manage your anger. Tip #3: You own your emotions.
4. How angry do you get on a Scale of 1-10?
You might want to gauge yourself by developing your own scale of how intense some things make you feel. For example, on a scale of 1 to 10, one being the lowest level of what makes you angry and 10 being the highest level of your boiling point, getting fired from work can be a 3. You can get another job. But being placed in ICE custody can escalate to a 7; if you get a divorce it might escalate to an 8 or 9; but the death of a spouse, child or a loved one is definitely ranked the highest and most stressful event -10 or 100% an anger provoking event that you might have little control off. It is better to seek help like counseling which will equip a person with skills to respond to a psychosocial stressor like death or divorce. #6: No matter how stressful an event is, it does not justify misplacing anger on others.
5. Know Yourself-Make a list of what makes you angry.
How then do you go about getting hold of your anger and keeping calm in the midst of all kinds of issues? What areas of your life do you control? Have you experienced any one of the stressors above? Make a list of things that seem to trigger anger in your life, look back 2 weeks ago. Don’t go too far back, unless it is a persisting issue.
Different things make different people angry. What makes you angry now might not make you angry 1 or 2 weeks from now. If you learn how to manage your anger, the issues you are dealing with will become non-issues. Do you remember singing a song, “Turn your eyes upon Jesus, Look full in His wonderful face, and the things of earth will grow strangely dim, in the light of His glory and grace.” Your reactions to the people that you feel have treated you unfairly will change over time, and especially if you find a way to forgive, to let go and let God. In order to manage your anger, it is important to identify what makes you angry. In Africa it has been said, “A hungry man is an angry man.” Na nga’ragu ri ndihoyagwo uhoro. So, make sure you are not hungry. What makes you see red? Some people refer to whatever it is that sets them off as anger triggers “this reminds me of the trigger on a gun. Once it is released, that bullet cannot be retrieved. It will inflict maximum damage on an object. Likewise, once anger is released, the damage is done.
#6 Tip. Identify what makes you angry.
6. Anger Triggers:
Here are more examples of issues that have potential to make trigger anger: words that hurt others, children and youth that talk back or bad mouth parents, insults, being told you have an accent, put-downs, those who work with young people in USA/they like to mimic your accent, while adults in the dominant culture repeat to you, “I don’t know what you are saying.” Or being told, “I don’t understand your accent,” or that you have a thick accent, name-calling (be careful because different name calling could mean totally something more intense in another culture), being teased or picked on, being bullied at school for students; and at work having a Boss who is a bully; not getting credit for something one has done well, or not doing well at work, being made to wait because a person is late for an appointment, especially here in the States not keeping time for appointments or being late, Church and social services that go over time. Not being able to get the job you qualify for, unable to travel home when you want to, especially now with Social distancing due to COVID-19 and many more. For a wife it could be feeling you are not valued for who you are. It could be tribalism, social injustice, chronic illness, terminal illness and so forth. The list is endless. #7: Know you List of 10 things that are your Anger triggers.
7. Anger Management and Technology:
Technology and Anger/Email/Text Messages/Facebook Postings ́Twitter, WhatsApp? Skype? Instagram? Now on ZOOM! The list keeps growing. Technology and social media have the power to annoy you. Watch out for angry Trolls among friends (Read my article on Digital Citizenship). Do not reply. Do not forward it to validate your anger. Wait until you are calm. After all it is your computer or telephone device. You can control your response in all things, and always. You own your response. You own your emotions. Just because you have a large following in Social media does not mean that they are your friends. It is applicable to social media-that is: Rule #1 never argue with a person you do not know. God has given you power and authority to do certain things well. Let one of the things you do well be anger management. To manage anger is a strength of character not a weakness. To walk away from an angry person is acting smart, safe and sensible. It is not being a coward. #8. Never argue with someone you do not know.
Know Your Body and how it lets you know you are angry:
How does your body let you know you are angry? It is important to identify and to monitor your body warning signs. When you are angry, your body lets you know that you are beginning to get angry or that you are very angry. Learn your body warning signs and become a master of your anger. Some of the warning signs are loud voices when someone signals that you are being loud, you shout even more. If you are from another country, you might speak in your mother tongue or Swahili to someone who does not understand your language; they might think you are cursing them. When you are angry you have rapid speech, your heart beats increase, your muscles tighten, some people’s eyes actually turn red, you might begin to throw or kick things around, feeling like you want to scream, you are sure the only relief will come from fighting, based on gender and age, some may cry, some even begin taking off clothing like a shirt, or tightening a lesso. Teenagers and young adults begin packing and threatening to run away or leave home. Make a list of how you feel when you are angry. That is your list of body warning signs. It is good to listen and to know your body. Tip. #1 Know your body warning signs.
Example of Body Warning Signs: Whenever I teach about body warning signs, I remember my Mom. She had a calm and gentle personality. Even as a child, sometimes I wondered how she got to be that way. In today’s personality inventory, I believe my mom would emerge as having “Total Personality.” She was a reasonable woman. She would not beat you for being a child or a teenager, nor for making mistakes. Only when you disobeyed household rules was a whooping certain. What in Kenya we call beating. My Mom knew her body warning signs. She was in tune or had learned how to manage her emotions. She was highly predictable. I have since learned that what you can predict, you can prevent. Tip #2: What you can predict, you can prevent.
What do you do?
Learn how to calm down! When your body reminds you that anger is definite, you need to learn cool down techniques. Listen to those around you; be in tune with your body. Have you been so angry that people tried to calm you down and said something like, “Hey calm down, and just be cool? You can learn many techniques that will help you calm down. They include taking a deep breathe through your nose, and slowly breathe out with your mouth open, like runners do. You can also count backward allowing one second in between the numbers count from 20 to 1, alternate both/breath and count as many times as it takes you to calm down. Others are ignoring behavior; intentional being disengaged, removing yourself from the environment that is upsetting you, walking away or disassociating with people who make it their business to make you mad. Learn when you are being invited to a senseless argument and refuse. Say something like, “I do not have to attend every argument I am invited to. There are some people that you will not be able to please in this lifetime. They only see the worst in you, so why not decide to associate with individuals who encourage you, the ones that respect you. So whenever possible, live peaceably with all people (Romans 12:18). These days it can be an email. An angry telephone message, or an angry social media post. You can ignore or delete it. #4. Learn Calming down techniques.
You have recently seen the speed with which individuals move and use a gun to settle problems. Decide early that you will not settle a dispute in a destructive manner. It is not necessary to wait until someone picks up a weapon. You are no match for a gun, a panga, or a knife or even a strong fist. No matter what technique you select, you will need to practice it, and remind yourself when you are angry you can choose to be a STAR of your anger.
STAR is simply an acronym for STOP.TAKE A DEEP BREATH AND RELAX. I am remembering the Reality TV Show, American Idol, or Dancing with the stars. Have you watched anything like that? The performers sing and practice being a “STAR.” You too can practice being a STAR of your own emotions. You will be able to resolve issues amicably and reduce stress in your life. All you must do is practice when you are not angry. Your body system will internalize what you train it to do. Discipline your emotions before you are set off. Then when you start to get angry, remind yourself that you are a STAR. When you calm down, the stressor or trigger does not seem as bad as you had perceived. Do not let anger take control of your life. Become the manager of your emotions. Yes, you can! Tip #5: Practice being a STAR of your emotions.
What Next? Practice what you have just read.
Anger Management by Rev Mrs. Wambui Njoroge, MS