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Taming the volcano

In part two of this series on women and anger, we explore how women can become calmer and healthier by managing their emotions.

IN the previous article, we had explored why women tend to be angrier than men. The most recent case of a woman passenger who stabbed a bus driver is a clear indication that many women today need anger management skills. In the concluding part of this series on women and anger, let’s talk about how we can douse the fire and emerge calmer and more in control.

Anger can control your entire life if left unchecked, so it helps to take charge before things spiral out of control. The recommendations below, categorised into long-term and short-term measures, will help you find ways to keep anger levels in check, for your sake, and that of your loved ones.

Short-term measures

These steps will help get you started on a life-changing journey:

1. Recognise that you have a problem

Sometimes, anger is like bad breath; you do not realise what an explosive, unpleasant person you are until someone points it out. When you lash out easily, you do not realise how you are hurting the people around you, whether they are total strangers or people you have known all your life.

How can you tell if you have an anger management problem? Answer this question: Do you get overly agitated and irritated over the smallest issues, such as when your child spills a drink or your assistant forgets your morning coffee?

If you tend to react drastically to small challenges or hear from the grapevine that you have earned the nickname of “dragon lady” among your peers, you probably have a problem. Just realising that you get angry too easily, too often, is already the first step towards getting back on track.

2. Know your triggers

As mentioned previously, there are many factors leading to frequent and unwarranted anger. In order to get to the root of your problem, you need to be honest with yourself and ask what is really bothering you.

Are you afraid of losing something or someone in your life? Is there something or someone who threatens your family/home, work, business or peace of mind? Do you suspect there is something wrong with your body, but are too afraid to get it checked?

If your fear is physical, it’s best to see a doctor who will be able to detect whether you have any mineral deficiencies or hormonal imbalance. If your problem is psychological, talk it over with a close friend or seek professional help.

Some people tend to get angry easily when they are hungry, giving rise to the term “hangry” (hungry and angry). Others are snappy when they don’t get enough sleep, when low on sugar or when feeling hot. Eat regular and balanced meals and ensure you get rest.

3. Count to 10

When you feel anger bubbling inside, take a deep breath and count to 10. This tried and tested trick pumps oxygen quickly to your brain to inform the transmitters up there that all is well and they can relax. Take a step back, or excuse yourself and walk away from the situation if you feel yourself losing control.

Long-term measures

Long-drawn anger is linked to various diseases such as heart disease, hypertension, kidney disease and depression. Here are some ways to resolve the anger and use the energy more purposefully:

1. Balance your hormones

More and more women and men are experiencing hormonal imbalance under the guise of so many other presenting pathologies such as depression, addictive behaviours, anger, irritability or uncontrolled rage. Escape such horrors. Make an appointment with your anti-ageing doctor and get your hormone profile checked and balanced (or optimise your hormone levels).

2. Practise relaxation techniques

Anger and stress are interlinked; your tolerance levels are lower when you are physically or emotionally stressed. If you find yourself getting out of of the wrong side of the bed too often, make it a point to spend five to 10 minutes daily doing breathing exercises, qigong, yoga or other forms of relaxation methods.

Making it a habit inculcates a sense of control, enabling you to develop a higher level of consciousness of your state of mind in your daily routine.

3. Get your life in order

Very often, we’re angry with ourselves simply because we’re doing too much. Look into the mirror and practise saying the words, “Sorry, but I can’t help you”. Taking on more than you can cope with only breeds exhaustion, resentment and anger.

Face your fears by asking what would be the worst case scenario if you did or didn’t do something. Oftentimes, you’d find that it’s not as bad as it seems. Once the load is off your shoulders, you’ll find yourself lightening up as well.

4. Turn anger into energy

Rather than rave and rant about something, why not take action instead?

Anger is a powerful energy, and can produce incredible results when channelled into the right avenues. Angry that your friends are taking you for granted? Make new friends.

Angry about your company’s policies? Take the lead and propose to make changes. Make your anger work for you, not against you, and you will find your mental and emotional health improving.

5. Letting go

It was once said that “holding on to anger is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die”. In life, we have to acknowledge that there will be things we just cannot change. Being angry with conditions beyond your control is a waste of your time and energy.

So let it go, and forge ahead to a better future. Why sacrifice your own happiness for someone or something not worthy? Nobody can make you angry. It’s you who decides to make use of anger as a response. Stay positive always, and positive and happy things will come your way.

THE STAR MALAYSIA, November 1, 2014
By Datuk Dr Nor Ashikin Mokhtar

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