Geeks Vs Loneliness: anger management

In which we look at turning a negative emotion into a positive force

Here at GvL we talk a lot about emotions, including anxiety, depression or stress. We aim to make this a place where people can express how they are feeling to a sympathetic set of ears and without fear of judgment. There is one emotion we haven’t talked about – anger.

Anger can be a toxic emotion. It gives fuel to fear, bullying, stress, uncertainty and a whole host of negativity that impacts not just on the person who is angry, but also on everyone around them.

It can be difficult to articulate anger in a positive manner. Once the explosive is out of the barrel it can leave in its wake a wave of shame and many casualties.

If you are feeling a high level of anger or rage perhaps try to step back from the feeling. Count to ten, and breathe. And if you feel you might have a problem such as an unexpressed emotional response or a key trigger for fury then it might be worth seeking help from the professionals in dealing with it in a controlled and positive manner. Links to further support are at the bottom of the article.

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I don’t lose my temper very often. I tend to step back and rationalise peoples’ actions and any anger they are expressing (whether at me or someone else) to find its origin. To understand that quite often people are not angry at me, but at the circumstances they find themselves in over which they may not have any control.

My own fuse burned up into anger recently. I’d been kicked about by other people’s opinions of me and my lifestyle and allowed those conversations to spark the anxious, self-critical switch on my brain. One day I short-circuited. The resultant spark lit the dormant fuse.

Which burned down to the TNT. It could have gone off like a Road Runner cartoon, with myself in the Wile E. Coyote role. Yet it never quite works out for old Coyote. His explosions always reverberate back onto himself. My rare outbursts of anger have done similar to me, leaving me feel worse than when I started, with a generous side helping of guilt.

This time I tried to react in a different way. I stepped back to look at the criticism to see if there was any truth in it. Because truth stings. It’s easy to respond to quickly to defend yourself and bat any criticism away. It’s more difficult to say ok, this person feels pretty strongly about this – do they have any justification?

And it was there, the little kernel of truth inside the criticism. A nugget of self-realisation that there was something I should be doing but wasn’t.

This was followed by, what can I do about it? I will be honest – the answer to this one didn’t come from a noble place. It came from a place of proving people wrong.

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I made a short list of positive things I could do for myself that would prove people wrong – and crucially improve my opinion of myself. This week I execute the first of them in its entirety. A project that has been languishing on the bonfire of self-doubt will see the light of completion.

When I looked back after five days of fury fuelled work and saw what I had accomplished I had to admit to myself that anger was the motivating force behind me getting off my backside. It wasn’t easy. But I haven’t hurt anyone with verbal sparring, haven’t damaged any crockery in reaching this point. Instead I have a tangible creation that may just lead to new places.

Anxiety gives me boots of clay. Anger gives me rocket fuel. If you have that fuel inside you consider how – and if – you can use it wisely. It could be a great motivation, if applied with care. Just remember that Wile E. Coyote never catches the Road Runner, no matter how many times he blows up the road.

Thanks, as always for reading.

If you are worried that anger is having a negative impact on your life you may find contacting one of the following organisations helpful:

Mind have a number of publications and support groups that can be found here 

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NHS Moodzone on anger 

Support Line has tips on stepping back and controlling anger 

Young Minds has practical advice and support for younger people