What to say when you feel angry

Why did I research this?

“Do I have an anger problem?”  This was part of a script that had been floating about in my head the last few weeks.  I had snapped two or three times at my children about the disappearance of manners in the home, whining voices and the disappointment dragon that kept rearing its ugly head. It doesn’t feel good to lose it nor does it look any good I’m sure.  It is said by many that it is normal to lose it every now and again but how does one know what now and again is when each day blends into the next? I have thought about documenting my snap attacks on our blackboard but frankly it scares me.  So, aside from wanting to know if my anger outbursts were considered to be normal/negative, I wanted to know what else I could say to myself to keep it together.

What did I find out?

According to Holloway, most normal people experience anger a few times a week with 58% of these anger episodes including yelling or screaming and less than 10% involving physical aggression.  “Within that 10%, the aggression is usually mild and consists of throwing small objects, like pencils, or shoving”. (Holloway, 2003).  When the anger is more frequent, intense and is endured for longer it usually has a negative affect on ones relationships, health and job.   So basically, one can ask themselves these questions as a starting point to find out whether their anger is a problem or not:

Can I still work?

Am I healthy (physically and mentally)?

Are my relationships mainly functioning well?

I read a lot about expressing anger in a healthy way to teach my sons how to handle scary emotions appropriately and so I’m aware of these strategies: run, kick a ball, go outside, take deep breaths, say “I feel, because…”, etc but for a mother who is tired and may forget these strategies because she is talked at constantly, asked hundreds of scientific questions weekly, caters to a wide variety of dietary and not dietary (spoilt) requirements daily, what one liner can she say to remind her that it is not that big of a deal?

IS THIS REALLY WORTH SUCH A BIG EMOTIONAL INVESTMENT?

Put this on your fridgey didge.  When your children lose it over odd socks or running out of porridge look at your fridge and say to yourself these very words.  Automatically your shoulders will drop and you will hear yourself breathe.  Save your energy for a real disaster and help pick up the pieces.

Why is this useful?

  • It feels good knowing that anger is healthy, we all feel it and need to express it appropriately.
  • It feels good to know that you are not a raving lunatic, just an overtired mother.
  • Asking yourself the question (Is this really worth…) puts life and its little annoyances into perspective.  This can save you energy.

~ SM

Retrieved from:

American Psychological Association. Holloway. J.D (2003). Advances in Anger Management.  Retrieved from

http://www.apa.org/monitor/mar03/advances.aspx

Holloway used a study published by Kassinove, R. Chip Tafrate, PhD, and L. Dundin in the Journal of Clinical Psychology (Vol. 58, No. 12).