How to Manage Anger of Your Loved One

Postby johncole600 » Sun Jun 03, 2018 3:57 pm

Hi everyone! I've developed like nervousness when my father gets angry and even now in his senior years, it is still the same.
Even talking to him on why he easily got angry makes me nervous and would really like to understand where it is coming.
How would I deal with it when my nervousness is really hitting me?
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#1

Postby Leo Volont » Mon Jun 04, 2018 12:07 am

johncole600 wrote:Hi everyone! I've developed like nervousness when my father gets angry and even now in his senior years, it is still the same.
Even talking to him on why he easily got angry makes me nervous and would really like to understand where it is coming.
How would I deal with it when my nervousness is really hitting me?


Hi Johncole,

Wow, I was wondering when we were going to get an inquiry like this, that is, someone writing into the Anger Management Forum wishing to know how to deal with an Angry relative (or an Angry somebody in their life). Yes, I can understand why you would be nervous about confronting such a person. One of the problems about anger is that Angry People find ways to justify their anger. They always have an excuse for it. They can claim ‘moral outrage’. Bad drivers ‘need to be taught a lesson’. ‘People can’t treat me like that!’ Heck, when you look at the whole Assertiveness Training Industry, it sort of gives free license to Angry People who already don’t think they have enough excuses already for ‘expressing’ their ‘righteous’ anger. Also, I can guess that your father has heard complaints about his temper before and so he would be ‘touchy’ about it, and he would probably launch straight into a ‘canned’ response – the same speech he always gives when confronted about his temper (just let him talk himself out, and resist saying “are you finished?” when he finally winds down. Go with “yeah, I understand all that, but…”).

Perhaps one way to get to such people is by appealing to the importance of civility and good manners. For years I was a moderately angry person (my blowups were about a couple times a year instead of a couple times each month or each week), and of course I had my excuses, but then I read a few ‘Miss Manners’ books (Judith Martin, who was syndicated in almost every newspaper back when there were newspapers), and it occurred to me that ‘being angry’ was a violation of good manners and common civility. Indeed, any time a person disrupts a social setting unpleasantly, well, it is a severe violation of the social etiquettes.

But, mostly people become self-aware that their anger is a problem when they are faced with very severe adverse consequences – counseled at work, they get arrested, or a spouse gives them an ultimatum. Something Big has to happen to shake them awake. Then there are other angry people who are bothered by the turbulent emotions that the anger brings in its wake. You know, anger is not a pleasant emotion. People who say that a ‘Blow Up’ is a release and that they feel better for ‘getting it off their chest’, well, I don’t think they know what they are talking about. Any manifestation or acting out of anger only stirs up the emotions and anxieties to an even greater extent. Releasing the ‘flood’ of emotions is not the way to dry things out. So it is that a lot of people want to learn to deal with their Anger in order to achieve greater ‘peace of mind’.

Now, I am sure that your father must know about how being angry disrupts his peace of mind. Well, some people think that what they ‘think’ about things is kind of ‘hardwired’ into them. They think that angry reactions are inevitable. Really, people honestly believe that their anger is beyond their control, which is why they have to figure out ways to justify it. But in the recent decades there has been a Revolution in the World of Mental Health Care, and the Psychologists (data driven Scientists) won out over the Psychiatrists (it’s all sex, and id, and how your mother potty trained you… without the first clinical piece of evidence to back any of that up) and the Psychologists developed a line of Therapies that can all be said to fall under the general rubric of Cognitive Behavioral Training. It seems that the way we think and the way we react to the World are the product of repeated conditioning from when we were very young – really just habitual ways of thinking and habitual ways of acting. All we really need to do is review and reflect on the things that we think and the things that we do, using the yardstick of ‘is this productive or hurtful?’ And where we find things to be counterproductive, well, we simply have to use our imagination to figure out what to think and do in place of how we used to think and act. It involves recreating the social self. It does take a while. Even if your father jumped into the hard work of accomplishing Anger Management, it would take about six months before he could reliably depend upon his New Self not screwing up and getting into the occasional scuffle, simply from the force of old diehard habit.

Also, there is a trick I learned in regards to people who become excited – loud, angry and confrontational. That is because of cortisol (we used to call it adrenaline). It turns out that the very first sign of a cortisol release, from a gland in the brain close to the brain stem, is that the jaw muscles tighten up. IF in the very instant you feel your jaw muscles tighten (your teeth clench) you can shut down the cortisol release simply by relaxing your mouth, with the consciousness that whatever triggered the cortisol was just a ‘false alarm’. Maybe you could tell your father about that. It is true that perhaps the worst feeling ‘drug’ in the World would be cortisol. While cortisol inhibits the higher mental functions (our ‘humanity’)during its ‘rush’ (and so it is that people really ‘can’t’ control their anger), it seems to boost all of those endless thoughts and anxieties that follow in the wake of an anger episode. People are typically troubled by up to 3 days following a ‘blow up’, and if such people are so chronically angry that they blow up every few days, then, really, their minds are never at rest, never at peace. It must be hell on earth for them. But they do say that some people get addicted to cortisol. But cortisol is almost synonymous with stress, and I imagine that these ‘cortisol junkies’ eventually burn out.

Hmmmm, maybe you should give your father the URL here… get him to write to me. Maybe I could walk him through the beginnings of Anger Managment.
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#2

Postby Candid » Mon Jun 04, 2018 1:52 pm

I'm impressed that you want to continue having a relationship with your father. Best thing you can do is stay off the past and focus on the men you both are now. IOW, don't ask him about flare-ups he had in the past.

If he continues to get angry with you, you could tell him: "When you shout at me I feel anxious."

If he continues to be angry, you have to consider consequences, eg. "If you keep shouting at me, I will leave / ask you to leave."

If there's no sign of him behaving decently around you, you have a decision to make.
Put up with it indefinitely -- he is who he is
Limit contact to phone calls
See him only when other people are present
Stop contact with him

I understand this is your father, and you want to have a good relationship with him... but it takes two to tango. You've probably seen him behave decently around authority figures and other people who aren't close to him. Make it clear to him that his behaviour towards you is unacceptable and that you insist on being treated with respect.
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