Right through my life I’ve often thought that I have trouble with anger but in spite of scanning numerous self help volumes have never really been able to come up with a solution. From hurling tantrums to brooding, I look back on a childhood punctuated by effusions of anger in one form or another. One could never have described me as a tranquil youngster, in fact by today’s measures I would probably be categorised and labeled with ADHD or Oppositional Defiant Disorder. Back then nobody ever truly bothered to ask why I was feeling angry, but even if they had I wouldn’t have been ready to tell them, because its taken me over 40 years to even get close to the origin of it.
just last week when I was driving up to London with my partner I asked her how she believed people saw me. After a few moments musing this unusual request she said that they probably saw me as a bit intense, aloof but caring, well informed, humorous, capable and well versed. (I guess you could name these traits my ego.) I chuckled because I certainly didnt feel like any of those except perhaps intense. I replied that the unusual thing was that much of the time I just felt frightened or at times numb, to which she replied that maybe I should signify I felt afraid to people more frequently, then I wouldnt get so emotionally washed up having to project a more acceptable picture of myself? I agreed with this because I knew it was true but also believed that this is a bit bit too simplistic and only addresses half the problem.

Later on in the day when both of us were fatigued from walking around London my girlfriend realised that she had made a error and had taken us to the incorrect part of London to see an art exhibition we were on the way to. Rather Than going back directly the same way on the busy underground we decided to eat up our packed lunches at a park across the road from where we were. I was aware that we had a clock time restriction since we were supposed to be meeting with her daughter and her friend at the art gallery in an hours time. Finding a gap in the relentless tide of traffic I ushered her across the road, but performed this in a way that was sharp and generally reactive. All I was aware of was the urging want to figure out the problem of having restricted time to get to the park, consume lunch and then get back to get together with her daughter. Hunger naturally played a part in this, because I was starving.

As usual I was taking on too much responsibility and entering into rescue modality when it wasn’t really required. All my life time I have used this to control my feelings of fear as I’m certain that if I just let it be I would feel far too vulnerable. For me the here and now feels so uncomfortable that I hotfoot through, in order to get to the other and what I believe will be the better feelings.

My partner however saw this episode differently and believed that I was behaving angrily and aggressively, and through her own feelings of uncomfortableness at the fact that she had made a error, thought that she had been punished by me. When we eventually got across the road I was unaware that she was furious with me and that I had done something unseasonable until I saw that she was fuming, which immediately activated the fear that I had gone through as a child ; a child that in my mothers eyes seemed to have done something awful. This left me feeling hard done by, as I believed I was simply trying to help and now I had my partners disfavour. I reacted by bursting with anger at the injustice of it all and the inevitable argument in the center of London ensued as my partner accused me of showing her up in public.

Anger, to me, has always been some way of trying to attempting to keep my feelings of fear in check and when really scared I try to countercheck it with fury or even hostility, though not physically with people but more with me personally or inanimate objects, (especially bins and freezers.) Most of the time my fear is more temperate nonetheless, so the anger tends to seep out in passive ways such as through impatience, intolerance, envy, jealousy, sarcasm or even silence. All of these passive forms of anger stem from a very active nucleus of fear. When Im impatient Im fearful that something is not immediate enough, intolerant that there is something lacking in me, when Im sarcastic Im frightened of the truth, envious that someone has something I havent, and jealous that I may lose what I already have. Quiet is probably the most powerful one for me however because I never shut up. When I use quiet Im actually frightened of fear itself. This is why trained counselors use silence so effectively : they know that a
Blank void of nothingness produces a surge of fear, as it is the mirror that reflects our own subconscious fears and these are the worst ones we can envisage.

Silence and self help for me however is where the solution to my anger management lies as it helps me get into this moment and quietens the uninterrupted chatter created by my head. When I still my head I am able to see that all my thoughts are either about things that are in the past or things proposed into the future. The more I accept this moment for exactly what it is without attaching a judgement, value or idea to it then the easier my life becomes and the less I need to strive. This unfortunately takes a lot of effort and I find it hard to discipline my self to remain mindful of the moment but when it works it takes me away from being a social reactor in life to becoming a social actor. When I react it is quick, like a chemical reaction and without consciousness, but by becoming response-able I am able to respond which is conscious ; I have a choice and can choose not to respond especially when feeling scared. Consciousness brings me nearer to my humanity as I have more empathy and can see how I affect others. Consciousness takes me further away from my frail ego which is so easily shattered when threatened.

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