Anger habits, slow burn and when a coach can wait!

Every now and again I come across the daftest statement made with the best of intentions. It was on an otherwise goodish website which stated there is never a need to be angry. Really? All the stuff that can annoy us, frighten and astound us about how others behave? According to the site we are implicitly not supposed to feel angry when it affects our values, personal sense of safety and decency? Please! If that’s just the external stuff, what about self directed internal anger?

The web site was about how anger can lead to higher blood pressure. No argument there, but anger can be really useful. It can tell you there is something worth thinking about if not reacting to at the time. However, it is much harder to be measured in reactions when really tired, apart from exacerbation which also increases blood pressure.

After three months of hardly any sleep nursing a small child with a succession of nasty snotty viruses which mean’t she could not lie down without choking and vomiting I was so sorry for her and so, so tired. I was not angry with her, just very concerned as her mum. It’s just what happens sometimes. I don’t know what parents do with big families when all hell breaks loose and they’re expected to cope, but they do because they have a safety valve of some kind. It could be anything, but mine is humour. Laugh at it and it’s amazing, the big deal becomes a lot smaller. My daughters viruses gave her an exploding head for a few weeks, a bit like what happened to Neil from The Young Ones, but we didn’t put her in a bin liner. We made a joke of it and even she laughed.

A few people get angry indiscriminately, they just don’t seem able to rein it in. Reacting in anger can be counter productive. However, thought police not withstanding, if it becomes a habit which invades your adult life regularly, or it lasts for a very long time then it is something which may need to be addressed by more than a finger wagging don’t do it message. Professional help must be an option.

Consider how people minimise their efforts, maximise their shortcomings, or absolutely blow things out of proportion by saying things like … ‘Because I got that bit wrong, the whole thing was a write off.’ Ever heard that before, or thought it? It’s called catastrophising.

There are said to be three types of personality, but I think there are at least four:

A’s who kick off big time and use aggression all the time. (I am not referring to individuals with learning difficulties. Not all people who do are angry). The chronically angry tend to either dominate at home, or at work because people are scared to upset them. If they cannot hold it together for five minutes they normally find themselves out of work a lot and possibly in trouble with the police. B’s who are more logical and less likely to get angry. The methodical calm, diligent worker. C’s are quite apathetic. They for the most part could not be bothered with anything, may do a basic standard of work and just wait for the pay cheque. Forgive me if any of that is wrong, it’s how I remember it summarised. How does this relate to anger? From my point of view it can be another category: D, disguised long term anger, which has been self taught through self limiting beliefs or adopted ones. The anger is normally about ones self, but sometimes turned outward to blaming others, inanimate objects, or fate.

The impatience we have for ourselves and the situations in our lives can literally disable our forward thinking because our heads are in the past, or worse, because the past did not work out as well as we wanted or hoped it would, it therefore (incorrectly) predicts the future.

I believe category D, involving slow burn anger exists more then most people let on. This is the one affected by the feeling of helplessness in the face of overwhelming odds. It’s typically covered by those wanting to discuss depression. (I call it pre depression, if any one but a non clinician may do such a thing.) Professionals believe increased tension, anxiety and vulnerability to uncontrollable stress may be associated with a major depressive disorder, manifesting in specific behavioural and affective aspects, underlying the vulnerability to stress, however this has not been studied enough for cast iron categorisation.

Whoever categorises it, it impacts a persons well being and it sometimes involves long term misery about being unable to affect real change due to real circumstances, but in an unreasonable frame. It can be about making another person or group understand something in an unequivocal way which cannot be achieved by the person stuck in their very real predicament. They may see the result, not the real reason. This very slow burn literally wears the person down, making them intensely sad and the longer it continues the worse it gets. We all want to feel understood and significant.

At first the feeling of sadness is something they believe they have to accept because they made their own choices, as difficult as they may have been, perhaps even for the greater good. On the surface they may be happy go lucky and most of the people in their lives may not know anything about out it. Those who do know are happier if they see the person getting on with things because they think they are handling it, when in fact it is eating away at them. Anger from grief is a very real thing and does not have to be all about someone dying. Bereavement is not limited to the end of a significant persons life on earth.

When the weight of grief eases, when the anger has had a chance to cool, we can all see a bit clearer, walk more lightly, smile more readily.

If you have had a situation which has left you with feelings you do not know how to handle which affect you in a dramatic way, especially if it is a slow burn, I strongly advise a proper clinician, not a coach. A good coach knows their limits. Be well.

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