What to do with your anger

Menstuff® has compiled the following information from Wayne L. Misner on dealing with anger.

Introduction

I would like to thank the men and women who took the time to share their personal stories and complete the survey questions. This was not a scientific survey. However the candid answers may help the reader who is going through the same type of emotions.

Some statistics of those that participated:

While your relationship may not be as extraordinary, or perhaps it is more so, too often partners are deeply hurt by each other. Most of stories from both the women and men had the same type of theme running though them. This is what the men said:

Now for the questions:

Tell us about yourself & your relationship:

We met at paramedic school. I didn't really get to know him until the end of school. I knew he was married and it wasn't until we started talking a lot that I knew of some of his marital problems. He said they talked about divorce and I told him if that's what he wanted he needed to figure it out. I was surprised when he actually wanted out. He still lived at home with his wife for about 3 months and they got into a big fight and he asked to move in with me, so he did. About 2-3 months later when my lease was up, his wife moved out and we moved into his house (she couldn't afford the house by herself).

I would say I really started noticing his verbal and emotional abuse when we moved into his house. Little by little he would get mad at the things I used to do like my running every morning, now I was suppose to be home in bed naked with him, even if all he was doing was sleeping. He would make comments about my mom and things she was doing and how she supposedly was trying to keep me away from him. He would always get mad when we were going to my softball games, or when I would go volunteer at the firehouse. He would tell me I wasn't trained right and they were putting me in harms way and if I went on another call he would leave me. He would tell me that I wasn't good enough to be a firefighter that I didn't have the upper body strength and I was too small. (I am 5'3 and about 130-135). He got mad when I was supposed to be in my friends wedding and he couldn't handle me walking down the aisle with someone else and having to dance with someone else, though I'd never meet this man before. We went around and around about this. He kept telling me he wasn’t going, then he was, etc. The day of the wedding, he knew no one and I knew the bride and another friend of my friend's. Anyway he was only with these people a few hours for the wedding, pictures, a whole hour at the reception because we had to leave. One of the bridesmaid came up to him at the reception after not evening knowing him and here ally didn't talk to anyone, she told him "it's people like you who kill people and if we find her dead we'll know who did it." That's how bad he was.

My family didn't know all of what happened but my sister was at the wedding and told my mom she had never seen me so scared. Anyway about a year after we'd been together, my mom, best friend and brothers came and moved me out. He was not there. I did go back to him after dealing with him for 2 weeks. So now he hates my family, he doesn't know my friend was involved, nor does he know I knew about it. Though I believe he does, when we have had fights before he has said he doesn't believe I didn't know anything and I just let him believe what he wants.

Anyway 3 years later I really don't see my family and when I do he gets all pissed off and we fight for days. I don't see my friends, I can't wear my jeans when he isn't around you see men always stare at my butt because my jeans are too tight, I don't wear my skirts because they are either too short or cut too high. I have to be under his thumb 24/7.

I have found myself acting like him. The more I yell the quieter he gets. I am so frustrated at myself almost as much if not more than him because I am now the one losing control. I hate the way I act and I am trying to get more control of myself and stop getting mad and stop letting him get me mad. He has threatened me, grabbed my collar, grabbed my throat, pushed me, & choked me. Early on one night when he was drunk and calling me an "f___ing Wh_re" repeatedly and then when he didn't stop after being asked over and over I backhanded him in the chest. I am not proud of it but I have not hit him again. I have gotten in his face and when he threatens to "take me down right here" or "break my f__ing arm" I have told him to go ahead if it will make him feel more like a man. I have pushed him in the middle of a very intense heated argument when we both were drunk. I am not making excuses for my behavior just explaining. Again I am not proud of myself and have since walked away from him when I feel that mad.

I believe he is trying (on his own without admitting he has a problem) to stop getting so angry, but only time will change and I don't really believe he can do it.

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Are you bitter, hurt, feeling like a victim, or just angry? Are you second-guessing yourself, “What could I have done to prevent this?” Perhaps they cheated, they left you, they were abusive, or they don’t send any money, they don’t want the kid(s). Maybe you’re feeling badly because they are suing for more money.

(Using generalities can be a subject to controversies, so people may not fit any of these points exactly but may be better in some, worse in others, you be the judge.)

Are you still angry?

Destructive anger

Anger is a normal, healthy, emotion if used properly. If not, anger may get out of control and become destructive. Without question, anger is the most abused of all human emotions. Many of us must learn from early childhood the difference between fierceness and violence. Too many people when they become frustrated become violent. (However this is not a male problem alone. We find more women are becoming violent over the last twenty years). Anger can be horribly destructive if misused. Destructive anger, may impact your work, any new or existing personal relationships, and how you react with your children and others. If both parties are at war they will inflict so much pain that both become wounded. When we talk about anger we think the "natural” way to express anger is to respond aggressively. If your anger level is close to the surface, just a small amount of stress or frustration, may set you off. Your anger may become baggage in all your new relationships. Most likely, the anger will destroy the angry person and affects innocent victims around them before (if ever) it injures its intended target. Note that the most reliably substantiated emotional-physical link is the relationship between anger and cardiovascular disease. It may be both righteous and unrighteous.

The cycle theory,consisting of some form of tension building stage, explosion stage, and honeymoon stage, is just one of many theories around today. So, what happens with the hurt and wounds that offend us? Many stuff it within and it goes unresolved. When over time it’s left to stew and fester within your heart, it gets to the boiling point, where it explodes. It seems that when anyone holds in all of their emotions and tries to suppress them, the tension builds. Observing the release of these suppressed emotions seems to verify that the anger release is not in direct proportion to the event that precipitated the explosion. The honeymoon stage is not difficult to understand. After the incident is over, the individual who exploded feels like a complete jerk. To make up for this inappropriate behavior, he (sometimes she) behaves very nice and swears it will never happen again. (In some cases where explosions happen over and over, the offender begs to be forgiven.)

A good analogy is a pressure-cooker with a clogged release valve. As the pot heats up, the steam will build and build; explosion will follow. The solution to the pressure cooker problem is the exact same solution for you or your loved one. Release the tension slowly as it builds up.

Explosive relationships are damaging to children, whether they watch their parents interact or whether they are the target of the angry parent’s explosion The old adage, “Do what I say, not what I do” is a truism. Parents teach their children by example. They model appropriate or inappropriate behavior. Therefore, the healthiest environment for your children is the one in which you and your children’s other parent have built a working relationship built around appropriate communication. This is not easy! But neither is enduring a chaotic relationship easy on the kids.

When you feel angry about something, how do you handle your anger?

Constructive anger is healthy. Anger is a powerful, healthy, and effective emotional response to threat. The expression of anger can be expressed either in a healthy or unhealthy manner. Anger is simply an emotion, a signal that something needs your attention. Anger is what you feel inside. The emotion is very different from what you do with your anger. In essences anger is feeling mad in response to frustration or injury or disappointment and an emotional-physiological-cognitive internal state. Anger may energize you to leave a bad relationship, friendship, or job. Anger gives you the strength you need to fight and to defend yourself when attacked. Anger, therefore, is necessary to our survival. The goal is to express anger in a productive and non-aggressive manner. The goal is to facilitate your objectives while preserving your self-esteem. Blaming, shaming, guilting, accusations, threats and name-calling are aggressive and inappropriate and are very bad habits! Plus once your anger has passed, you will end up feeling badly about how you behaved! It is difficult to attract a loving relationship if your expression of anger is built around lashing out at others, even if your lashing out is in response to another’s verbal aggression. It is not easy to move onto another relationship after a bad experience. Angry emotions can eat away at you and indeed make you physically sick. If you feel anger is hurting you or those around you, try doing what may be the most courageous and difficult thing you have ever attempted in your life: nothing. Do nothing until you are calm enough to understand what went wrong, decide if there are any constructive steps you can still take, until, finally, you can let go of the anger and forgive. Forgiving is one of the pivotal stages in resolving anger.

Emotional Baggage is the “Stuff” hidden in the closets of your mind

We all have some kind of “Stuff” cluttering our lives. It is so easy for the psychological “Stuff” to accumulate. It can come from childhood disasters, broken relationships, etc. We store this “Stuff” in closets, attics, basements, and garages of our being. On the surface no one can see how we hide all the garbage. But as someone wants to get close to us and opens one of our doors everything comes down on their heads and almost suffocates the innocent victim.

It is not hard to understand as time goes by, that everyone starts to avoid opening any of our doors. Sometimes we don’t realize the garbage is all over. We think that when we got away from all the mess and when the dump truck took that problem away from us, our life would now be great. All this “Stuff” is different from one person to another. A bit of post traumatic stress, a feeling of failure, blame, anger, resentment, and on and on. We hide it in the garage, attic, _______ but, anyone who visits us can’t step over it, or walk around it. We think this new person will help us get rid of all this stuff. Some might want to help but realize as they start the task that a lot of this stuff is sharp; it cuts and even stabs. All we have succeeded in accomplishing is to continue floating in our garbage and drowning the potential lifeguards that try to save us. If you see yourself living in this horror house of garbage, maybe just maybe, you will realize it is time to do something about it. (What you say? Should I move?) I don’t feel this method works for a lot of people. I have been told sometimes your “Stuff” moves with you. What worked for me was Spring-cleaning. I went to each area of my being and looked at and felt (the emotions) of each item stored. I made a decision, which I call a “Mind Set”. My mind set was to acknowledge forever that the items I throw away would never be allowed to upset me again. They are in the past as pages of an old book. My mindset of the future will be writing new pages and chapters to complete the rest of my book of life. I have held onto some of that old stuff as a beacon. For my personality today is a composite of the good and bad stuff in my life. The experiences I have faced have made me grow. I am today all of my experiences of yesterday. I’m not holding on to be a victim, martyr or a masochist. I want to use these experiences as the foundation to build my new house. My “Mind Set” for the “Stuff” I toss out and what I have saved is the same, I will never let them upset me again.

OK, let’s say you messed up in a prior relationship. You’re human. We all mess up. Now you are free and looking for a new partner.

The problem is that you will likely feel hurt and frightened about getting hurt again. You may overreact to another person’s behavior simply because it reminds you of what you just went through. This is normal. If you don’t learn to handle your anger and direct it in a way that is productive and results in higher self esteem and a sense of personal power, you are at risk of either repeating the relationship you just endured – or – you are at risk of remaining so internally angry that out of your fear, you come across hostile yourself. You may push away a compatible person.

Bitterness can consume you and make it almost impossible to move on to a new relationship. It is not easy to attract love, or give your heart to someone new when you cannot trust that you will not get hurt again the next time. You want to forgive, but not forget. The objective is not to forget what was. The past cannot be changed. It cannot be erased. But you can learn from the past! Forgiving is letting go.

Letting go admits I can’t control another, I can’t control a situation, but I can control myself. To let go is not to change or blame another but to allow another to be a human being (failings and all). Forgiveness will reduce anxiety and depression while increasing your self-esteem. Forgiveness benefits the forgiver far more than the forgiven.

Resolve to better understand yourself, your weaknesses, and specifically what went wrong – so you don’t repeat what happened.

For those who have resolved the anger problem, How did you do this?

Where do I start?

Lets examine your anger and ask some questions. The responsibility for change begins with you. Whatever causes your anger - a driver who just cut you off, a boss that yells at you, finding out your partner has cheated, the ex who lies and doesn’t show up, drinks, drugs, and so forth. Don't waste your precious energy blaming god, your bad luck, the Democrats, the Republicans, or shout, “This is Not Fair!” Life is not fair. Your objective is to act in ways that are constructive. To speed your healing, keep in mind that, the more you recognize what was not about you, but about the other individual and their personal failings – and there is absolutely nothing you can do about another’s failings, the more quickly you will heal.

How you act is your responsibility. How you react to internal states such as anger is your responsibility. How you react despite what was done to you is your responsibility. Do you have uncontrollable anger and rage? Or are you still angry? Keep in mind that sometimes we don’t even recognize just how angry we are! So pay attention, be mindful and determine just how it is you feel. During a calm moment, ask yourself if there is anything constructive you can do to resolve your anger. Ask yourself if behaving angrily or wanting revenge is likely to help you get what you want out of life. While revenge may feel good in the moment, have you enhanced your self-esteem – as opposed to the transient ego? Usually not.

Appropriate Expression of Anger is a Skill

The appropriate expression of anger is a skill. Most of us don’t learn appropriate anger management at home, especially in homes where yelling or avoiding the angry topic is practiced. We are taught powerful lessons by observing how our parents act and how they handle anger.

The cornerstone of anger management is twofold: Never ACT in anger and practice, practice, practice how you would have handled the target situation if you had the ability to do it over. Eventually, you’ll find yourself in a situation – and you’ll handle it!

Think of it as learning a foreign language. You won’t learn to speak any foreign language unless you read it, hear it used, and, hardest of all, trying to produce words and sentences on your own. Building assertion skills to deal with anger-provoking situations and responding in a way that is likely to promote an effective outcome while increasing your self-esteem (you are proud of yourself!) is where you want to go,

There are many wonderful books on the market to help you notice your anger and effectively manage it. There are also workshops and classes taught in high schools at night. Many of these books and classes are entitled “Assertiveness Training” or “Anger Management” or the like.

Quick Rules of Thumb

If you've resolved your anger, what benefits if any have been gotten?

Look Closely At Your Motives

Many of our problems are emotional in nature or provide some meager pay off. Could you be using your anger as a way to stay connected to someone? While a negative connection, anger may keep you from letting go of a past relationship. Are you afraid of having no relationship? Are you frightened of having to forge your way through singles’ events to find a new relationship? Are you hoping that things will somehow magically change? Another reason why it's hard to let go is because sadness and grief often underlie anger. An individual going though a divorce or broken relationship must recognize both the anger felt toward the former partner for their past behaviors, as well as the sadness that comes with having lost a shared, precious dream. That ex is the person you once fell in love with, the person you pinned your hopes and dreams on. They had the qualities you were looking for. You shared times, events, friends, holidays, trauma, perhaps births, with this person.

They loved you intensely. If fact, they still may love you. But the problems in the relationship were more than you could bear. Perhaps you loved a Dr. Jekyll and a Mr. Hyde. One you loved with all your heart, "But the other I do not like." One is the fantasy, the image seen through rose-colored glasses, the promise, the unrealized success,ability, possibility and capability. Your heart becomes intoxicated and sees them with filters. He is not a real man but a “potential.” That's the confusing part; you do not like them but your heart is keeping them. What you love, the qualities of Dr. Jekyll, are the parts that need to grow and to take over his complete body and snuff out the bad Mr. Hyde. Most of the divorces that make up the fifty-two percent of divorces figure would go down all over the United States if Dr. Jekyll would win the battle. You cannot live life with your heart alone. You must use your head. The bad was very bad. Thus your confusion. Yes, it is confusing to love someone and hate someone too. But, you loved the good of that person not the bad. The bad is what eroded the love and pushed you to make the choices you did. It is very difficult to throw away this type of connection. It can be more difficult still when you interact with the wonderful, caring side of them now. Having to walk away from such a relationship can be the hardest thing you ever did. To let go of your past relationship, forgive your ex, forgive yourself, and understand that his total behavior was who they are. Sometimes they were wonderful (you may always love that part of your ex), and sometimes them were horrible. Someone wrote, “Now over time, I will get over, getting over, loving you.” You must let the offender go free. In order to conquer fear you must face it head on. Recognize you were in a dysfunctional relationship (that you may have or may not have contributed too). Awareness of your own personal responsibility will help you break the connection and start moving in the right direction. Be careful that you don’t get into a cycle of self-blame, guilt, anger that will erode your self-esteem and creates negative emotional consequences. You may be thinking the wrongdoer, who has committed all these hurtful acts, has no right to be forgiven. But, forgiving is one of the pivotal stages in resolving anger. Remember forgiving someone is not forgetting or condoning what they did. In addition to your anger you may be going though a grieving period. Yes, losing a relationship is the death of the relationship and people go though a grieving period. When someone loses a loved one, be it from a broken relationship, the death of a relationship, divorce or death they go through a series of stages. The time it takes to go through each stage is different for each person. Timing has a lot to do with who it was, how long you were together, how it ended, who ended it, and many other factors. The sequence of the steps is:

It is possible you will cry within each of these steps. It is also possible to go into a new stage for a while, fall back into a previous stage, and go forward once again.

A new life

There is a life after loss. It might sound like a contradiction but it is not. It feels like a piece of ourselves has died when that person leaves us or we leave them. It seems impossible that life goes on without the person we loved so much. I lost my first wife when she was twenty-eight and I was thirty. We had two sons seven and three. I remember taking the boys to a diner to eat after the funeral. People were eating, talking and laughing. Trucks and cars were passing by. I could hear the music from the radio. The singer was Skeeter Davis, singing a song about “Why do the birds go on singing….” My world had come to an end. A large piece of me was just torn from my body and I was dying. Why was the world going on? How could people be laughing? How could trucks keep running? And why, oh why do the birds go on singing? But life does go on, and with it comes a very long, painful process. Grief is a quiet thing. Grief is part of life. When we lose someone it becomes one of the most stressful events in our life. There is life after a loss. It is different, but life nevertheless. Very slowly over time, finding joy again is possible. You will find that activities you enjoyed as a “ten” on a scale of one to ten (ten being the high end of the enjoyment scale), no longer make you feel good; they have dropped to a one. Plus, you have no desire to do the activities. You might start to withdraw from all types of activities and from associating with people. The paradox of this situation is that part of the healing process is time and the other part is to continue life. Give yourself the time to heal. The healing time required will vary from one person to the next. Eventually, the time will come that you must force yourself to get on with your life. Being happy, having fun and enjoying yourself has a lot to do with your mind-set, even when times are hard and things are not going your way. When you decide that it is time to get out and have fun and enjoy yourself, even if you are normally alone, you will be making solid progress. Maybe your suitcase flew to another state, the waiter dropped your dinner order on you, the hotel clerk gave your room to someone else, you ran out of gas, and…..you get the picture. Don’t let it derail your plans or the hope of a rewarding day. You can dwell on the events that did not go your way and get depressed and unhappy, or you can have a mind-set to laugh at all the things that occurred.

Emerging from a divorce or broken relationship with a healthier perspective of life requires viewing yourself as much more than a significant other. Your identity goes well beyond the tremendous pain you associate with that role. Look at where you are in life. Self-acceptance is to realize you are today the result of all your life's experience. Each of us is a composite of our experiences--the good, the bad, and the ugly. When someone comes into our life they accept us for who we are, baggage and all. Imagine we are in a “Garage Sale,” sitting in a driveway on some old table. You buy us “as is.” Think of it more as if we were a valuable, rare antique piece of furniture. Each bump, bruise, and scratch are part of the history that makes this antique so scarce, precious, and valuable. Just like the antique, we cannot be replaced even through we contain flaws. You might be able to do some restoration, renovate pieces, and recondition areas; but you are not going to change a dresser into a chair. Be very realistic as to just how much you can change and to what degree idiosyncrasies can go away.

Fear

Many people must overcome fear to have success in changing patterns of the past. The fears may be many, from being able to love someone again, to allowing someone in to love you, or the fear of being happy. The fears come from various places—a bad (or abusive) relationship, perhaps from bad experiences in childhood or adulthood, loving someone whom then abandons you, being in what at first seemed a good relationship, but then becomes a disaster. Do you purposely sabotage a relationship? Some of us subconsciously sabotage the relationship. Fear of being hurt again,or disappointed, or not being able to have and maintain a relationship.

The mind becomes very black and white. Your fear tells you that you trusted once before and were hurt. That hurt was so painful that you may feel you could never again go through that kind of pain. So you start building a wall around you--a wall so big that you will not allow anyone to come though it. But, you pay a very big price for that protection. Having that wall so big and strong, you are not allowing the feeling of love to get in nor can you get love feelings out. Listen to the other person. Try to feel what they are saying as well as hearing what they say.

When you were a baby just learning to walk, did you stop trying to walk because you had fallen? Of a more serious nature, if you’re in a car accident, will you ever get in a car again?

To try again is the brave thing to do. Each time you fail, use the failure as a lesson to not make the same kind of mistake the next time. However, do have a next time and continue to have next times until life is what you want it to be. In learning to play a musical instrument, you must practice, practice, practice. Analyze the previous mistakes. See where you went wrong. Read books about the subject. Take lessons. Talk with experts. Learn, learn, learn, which will equate to practice, practice, practice.

Having fun

Our readers are not all at the same place. Some of you are at the beginning of your journey of overcoming your pain. Others are mid way and some are emerging from the other side. When you are past the anger, fear and grieving, “Having fun” are the next steps you may want to take. For those who are not, you may want to take this section and save it to read some time in the future. I like to think of this section as if you’re writing your life story. Each page an event or episode. Many pages equaling a chapter. Many chapters will finally complete your book. Be the writer and director. You are ready to start the chapter of having fun.

For the last forty years, women's magazines have published surveys asking what their readers want from a relationship. One word has been on all the lists of answers and has moved up on the lists in importance. That word is "fun" (sense of humor, jokes, laughs, etc.). With the everyday stress of raising families, working, shopping, and driving, we need to unwind. Experts believe that relieving stress, having fun, possessing a sense of humor, and laughing freely enhances the chances of decreasing tension. (That also means the ability to laugh at us.) What we need to do is find the “little boy" and “little girl” within us and get them to come out and play. Fun bonds us and creates memories for many years. When fun is missing, the relationship is headed for trouble. I encourage both of you to spend a lot of time and effort preparing your fun lists. I started one for you. Substitute my desires with yours.

Begin implementing some of these activities and ventures into your lifestyle today.

A representation of a fun list could be:

Some of us have spent our entire life wanting to do some of these events plus others, but always feel we are too busy and don’t have the time. However, we can promise our loved one and ourselves we will do these things in the future. The secret of succeeding now, is to set a planned day in advance. (Paid for in advance if possible. Statistics show that more people who pay in advance show up and do the event compared with those who would like to go but do not pay, because they lose nothing if they don’t show up.) Mark each event off your list as you complete it. Continue until all those things you felt would help your life become more fulfilling; complete, exciting, and invigorating are accomplished. Be flexible and do your list and add your partner’s list, too. You may find doing some of both lists exciting.

About the Author:

Wayne L. Misner is owner of Healthcare CIO, a consultant company in New Jersey and author of Men Don’t Listen, an absolute must read for women as well as men. He has been in the healthcare field for thirty-five years. In addition, he became the Vice President of Programs and Education for a NJ chapter of Parents Without Partners, where he moderated men and women’s groups across the state. For ten years, he had the opportunity to facilitate many groups of men and women who were struggling with not being able to listen. While at the Rehabilitation Hospital he also was a facilitator of the women’s group for both inpatients and outpatients.

Over all these years he has installed systems in Jersey Shore Medical Center (Meridian Health System), St. Elizabeth Hospital (Trinitas), and Morristown Medical Center (Atlantic Health System). In addition, he has directed the Information Systems Centers at Carrier Rehabilitation Hospital and Shore Memorial Hospital. As Vice President of the Princeton based NJ Hospital Association, Mr. Misner represented all the hospital members directing, “The Hospital Information System.” He is the father of two sons and one daughter and is one of the men he has written about. MenDontListen@aol.com or MenDontListen.com

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Any person capable of angering you becomes your master; he can anger you only when you permit yourself to be disturbed by him. -- Epictetus



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