By Elmarie van Heerden – LifeWorks Personal Development Trainer
1. Why are some people more prone to anger than others?
People with a low frustration tolerance are more prone to outbursts of anger than others because they do not easily accept anything hindering them to achieve their goals or not having their immediate ‘wants’ met. They have irrational beliefs that it is “awful” if things do not go my way and it is “disastrous” is my goals are not met.
Emotionally intelligent people, however, are more aware of their emotions and know how to deal with it in an appropriate way. They accept that things will not always be as they want it, and although it is unpleasant, it is manageable.
2. Do you think that today’s environment is making people more angry, less patient, or at least less able to control outbursts of rage?
Patience is a skill that needs to be practiced. We don’t need to practice patience anymore because we live in a world of immediate gratification. If we are hungry, we order a take-out; if we want entertainment, it is the push of a button away; if we have a headache, we swallow a pill. We can even have our bodies surgically re-shaped to what we want – it is not necessary to patiently loose weight by eating less and exercise regularly if we can have a tummy tuck! Even the accessibility of information is at our fingertips! Uneasiness and discomfort can be done away with in no time.
3. Also, do you think that the UAE’s expat-dense environment can create stress for people? Eg, learning to accept that things will not always be done in the same way as in your home country, etc!
Living and working in the UAE cause its own unique challenges. If we enter the UAE with the expectation that others will have the same values, social skills and habits as us, we are in for a surprise!
It is stressful and causes frustration to make ourselves understood while talking on the telephone; it is irritating to wait our turn in a queue only to see others push in; road rage is prevalent because of the overload of vehicles and the irresponsible drivers around us – and we can add a lot more to the list of daily frustrations.
The mere fact that we live away from our known environment and many of us lack support systems is in itself, a stressful situation that makes us more prone to respond impulsively to the imperfections we are faced with.
4.Do you think women tend to experience anger differently to men?
Men and women very early in life, learn to identify with the sex roles modelled to them by their parents and significant others. Boys play ‘cowboys and crooks’, are a policeman with a firearm and ‘fights’ in their superman suits while girls nurture their dolls and push them in their prams. The various roles allow for the ways in which anger is expressed.
Hormonal imbalances can cause a woman to behave more aggressive than usual. A well documented case of a woman who killed her husband with scissors in South-Africa, is said to have suffered from severe pre-menstrual tension!
Men are perceived by society as the more aggressive of the sexes.
5.How can someone identify whether they have a more serious anger management problem?
When anger outbursts impacts on one’s general feelings of contentment and when interpersonal relationships are detrimentally affected by anger, it is time to reflect and assess one’s thoughts, feelings and behaviour. It is important to get feedback from people with whom we interact on a daily basis in order to evaluate the frequency and intensity of our anger.
6.What does anger management therapy involve?
In anger management therapy, the following is dealt with:
Understanding anger, fury, frustration and calm;
Identifying the triggers leading to anger;
Learning to react differently;
Developing strategies to manage different levels of frustration:
Challenging our thoughts and learning to think rationally (Rational Behaviour Therapy)
7.Are there any coping mechanisms that can help people not to lose their temper in a stressful situation?
Becoming aware and being mindful of the fact that we always have a choice in how we respond to challenging situations, is empowering. The mother of a very hyperactive little boy can, for instance, one minute yell and scream at him at the top of her voice, claiming that he “drives her mad”; yet she can answer the phone a second later in a calm and controlled tone of voice! No one can frustrate us if we don’t allow it.
We need to learn how to ventilate our frustration in an appropriate way and how to solve problems.
General ways in which we can empower ourselves and prevent outbursts of anger, include the following:
• Identify the triggers that cause anger and frustration.
• Spot the symptoms of feelings of frustration: over thinking, irrational fears, absolutism thoughts etc.
• Reduce stress by managing time, eating well balanced food and drinking lots of water and getting sufficient sleep.
• Talk! Ventilate frustration regularly in a socially acceptable manner.
• Know your goals – what do you want from life?
• De-stress by taking up a new hobby; take time out and laugh! Laughter releases endorphins, the body’s natural pain killer.
• Exercise releases serotonin which is the ‘happy hormone’.
• Be out in the sun for at least 10 – 15 minutes to get sufficient vitamin D.