Two of them sitting in a car, caught in a long traffic jam on a Friday night. Neither of them tried to break the solid silence. The lady, who happened to sit in the driver’s seat, managed her best to hold in her anger. Her eye wandered to the other side, looking for a more eye pleasing view to avoid staring back at her sister who sat in the passenger’s seat. She took a couple of deep breaths as she felt so tired because anger had taken a lot of her.
The sister was only half sorry for causing the trouble, yet she kept on defending herself and kept on convincing the lady that she was the right one. No smoke without fire, the lady then could not hold her anger any longer. She shouted at her sister angrily in a very loud high voice, started to cry uncontrollably as she was so pissed and felt that no one could really understand her. The lady apparently had reached the boiling point. The sister was so surprised since she had never seen the lady this mad before. It was an unfamiliar feeling for both of them. The sister even could not ‘recognise’ the lady. Then the silence awkwardly continued.
Anger and rage. These two words sometimes can be signs of weakness, yet when you experience these feelings you can somehow feel an additional power covering your entire blood. You may feel you are stronger when you are angry as all of sudden you have that kind of a destructive urge to convince that your rights are harmed, that you are right, that someone should feel sorry for causing the trouble, that you are powerful. Yes, until some extent, anger can be a powerful weapon to destroy. But at the same time, it can also be an indication that you are weaker than yourself.
The truth is, like happiness and sadness, anger can cause different things to your body and brain. Moreover, every time you fail to control your anger, you increase your risk of cardiovascular diseases, including heart attacks—according to Laura Kubzansky from the Harvard School of Public Health. However, we should still acknowledge anger as a normal emotional reaction, in order to better control and manage our reaction upon this feeling.
You can continue browsing on the internet and looking for the perfect ways to express and handle your anger, but one thing you should avoid is suppressing your anger. It may sound counter intuitive as you may not expect this advice yet it is your best bet to control your anger. Handbook of Emotion Regulation tells us that suppressing negative emotions would only lead to higher blood pressure level of the angry partner, and the long-term result of this is you and the angry partner would have a more negative relation. Simply because suppressing your negative emotions, including anger, indicates that you are not being open and honest about your feelings toward others. However, we are here not to tell you to let your anger out wildly, or punching someone in the face in order to express your anger is permissive.
The healthiest way to both control your anger and respond to angry person is to master the self-control. Psychologist Walter Mishcel in his work titled The Marshmallow Test: Mastering Self-Control suggests, one should distract themselves in order to tame their temper. It is because our brain has limitation in absorbing sources and information, thus, when get angry, the most effective way to control ourselves is by thoroughly thinking about other things to keep us distracted from the anger itself. When our brain is highly occupied with things and sources to think about, we have no more space in our cognitive system to process negative emotions. Therefore, only by then we can detach ourselves from anger, and the detachment process would allow us to reevaluate the circumstances we are facing. If we react right away upon anger or rage, even if we are the victim, we may miss a chance to understand the reason beneath the anger. But by delaying our response, we would have more time to reevaluate our beliefs. What if your angry partner had just been fired? What if their children are currently lying weak and ill at the hospital? What if you attack your friend just because you feel insecure and not good enough inside? You would suddenly change your negative reaction in a snap if you let compassion comes in to your thought and beliefs.
In Handbook of Emotion Regulation, the term “revaluation” is defined as “reappraisal”. Unlike suppressing negative emotions such as anger and rage, reappraisal is considered a recommended method. Because, by reappraising, the individuals have the opportunity to share the true feelings, be it positive or negative, instead of being manipulative by pretending like nothing has happened and everything worked just fine. Reappraisal also increase the level of understanding, so that, more harmonious relations between individuals can be created for the long haul. Remind yourself that anger is just a normal feeling, it is just how we control and react upon it that matters.
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