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Friday, April 9, 2010

Understanding Anger Patterns

In order to understand your anger you have to first take responsibility for your actions when you get angry. Blaming others is not helpful. However, a look at the past may help you to understand your current angry behaviour. For example, if your parents or influential family members set bad examples and resolved conflicts aggressively, you may not have learnt to deal with anger constructively. 

Anger patterns refer to the way in which you have learnt to deal with anger over the years. An understanding of your anger patterns might help you to change the way you react when you are angry.

When last did you get angry with someone, at work or school, in a social situation and at home? Who made you angry in these situations? Think about these incidents very carefully, be very honest with yourself and try to identify what caused you to get angry.

You can write this down in a table similar to the one below:

Let's take this a little further- Try the following:
Think back, as far back as you possibly can. Try really hard to remember the first time that you were angry. It doesn’t have to be exact, just as long as you have some idea of when it was. As you are trying to remember consider, approximately how old you were. If you really can’t remember, try to think of something that reminds you of a time when you got angry while you were still very young. Things that might help are; photo’s, stories that your parents or other people told you, scars you might have as a result of your anger…
Now try to remember how you reacted, what did you do? Did you scream and shout? Were you silently angry on the inside or were you loud an aggressive? Was there any physical action involved (like throwing things, hitting, etc.)?
Write down as much as you can about what you remember.
Now come forward through the years and try to recall other incidents, throughout the time that you were growing up, when you were a young child, as you got older, and as a teenager, right up until right now.
 Is your way of dealing with anger the same as it always was or has it changed?
 What is common, what is stable, what aspects of your angry behaviour has remained constant?
 If your reaction to anger has changed, what do you think has allowed it to change?
 Has your reaction to anger become more constructive or more destructive?

We spend a lifetime learning (usually unconsciously) how to act out our anger--we have been socialized into the process. Anger management is a re-socialization process. Anger is something that we experience cognitively, emotionally, and even physically”. The important thing to remember is that no matter where or how we’ve learnt to behave in anger situations, the fact still remains that we are able to change our ways of reacting to anger from a destructive to a constructive way. If we look carefully we will see that we have developed certain patterns of dealing with anger. There are certain things that are common in all our anger situations. We can try to identify what this is and once we know we can work towards eliminating our negative patterns.

Something that will help with this that needs to be done over a period of time is to keep an “anger diary”, or “anger log”. Each time you get angry you can fill it in and after a period of time you can evaluate your anger behaviour by changes. analysing your anger patterns. Look at what was similar in all the situations and also identify any changes.

Indeed, anger is from the evil and, without doubt, the evil is created from the Fire. Only water can extinguish fire. Therefore, if anyone of you feels the rush of anger. Let him perform ablution”, and “When you feel angry, keep silent.” {Hadeeth of the Prophet Muhammad (SAW)}

References for this post:
-BUPA’s Health Information Team. (2004) “Anger Management”.
-Free to Grow Lifeskills. “How to handle conflict”, Workshop manuals.
- Image reference:

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