A GNA News feature by Eric Appah Marfo
It is a cozy Saturday morning. All is calm and one can hear the beautiful birds chirping happily. But suddenly, another sound interrupts the calmness.
Mr Opoku and his wife are involved in a heated argument.
Mrs Opoku has caught her husband flirting with another woman during a phone call.
It confirms her recent suspicions regarding her husband’s sudden change in attitude- lateness in coming home after work and refusal to eat dinner.
Mr Opoku, a church elder, is a respected figure in the community so he pleaded with his wife to keep the issue between them.
Mrs Opoku, still angry over the incident, reluctantly accepts the apology.
A few days later, she cut off her husband’s head with cutlass whiles he was bathing, out of anger.
Mrs Opoku, though greatly regretted the deed, she is still serving her life imprisonment sentence.
Anger is a normal healthy human feeling unless one fails to manage it properly.
The Oxford English Dictionary defines “anger” as a strong feeling of annoyance, displeasure, or hostility.
Unbridled anger can lead to loss of respect, divorces, relationship break ups, loss of years of valuable friendships, loss of job opportunities or promotion, generational environmental transfer (raising a generation of timid or aggressive children), among others.
Out of anger, people have verbally and emotionally abused those they once upon a time claimed to dearly love.
To the extreme, just like in Mrs Opoku’s case, some have physically abused or even murdered others and ended up spending majority or almost the rest of their lives in imprisonment.
Health wise, anger increases one’s heart rate and puts them at risk of heart attack or stroke due to hypertension.
Anger can raise one’s blood sugar level through the release of cortisol into the blood stream, cause a general agitation of the nervous system, indigestion, sexual dysfunction, delays in healing, headaches, insomnia and aggravation of ulcers.
CAUSES OF ANGER
Epictetus, a Greek Stoic Philosopher said, “it is not the event or situation that causes anxiety but the individual’s evaluation, appraisal or interpretation of the event or situation that causes anxiety”.
Thus, whether or not one becomes angry is a matter of perception (what might create anger in one person may not trigger anger in another).
People get angry when they feel attacked, powerless, being treated unfairly or when they experience physical pain or threat.
IS ANGER AN EMOTION OR BEHAVIOUR?
Reverend Albright Asiwome Banibensu, a licensed Psychologist says anger, though an emotion or feeling, forms part of three interlinked stages (Thinking, Feeling and Behaviour) of influence that humans experienced.
He says there are four stages involved in the cycle of violence namely; tension build up, explosion, reconciliation and calm or honeymoon stage.
“The way you think, affects the way you feel. The way you feel affects the way you behave. If you behave in a certain way too often it becomes a habit. So anger can become a behaviour. A person can be motivated to be belligerent habitually if that gets him rewarding results,” he said.
POSITIVE SIDES OF ANGER
Rev Banibensu, also the National Vice President, Ghana Psychological Association (GPA), says anyone who does not experience or show some amount of anger may actually be suffering from a psychological disorder.
“Anger is reasonable and has many positive sides. A number of people who got angry because others looked down on them, have been provoked to move from their comfort zones and achieve successes. Ephesians 4:26 says, ‘Be ye angry, and sin not: let not the sun go down upon your wrath.’ In short, you are permitted to be angry but don’t misbehave if you are,” he said.
HOW TO PROPERLY HANDLE YOURSELF WHEN ANGRY
“Any person capable of angering you becomes your master; he can only anger you when you permit yourself to be disturbed by him.”— Epictetus
Rev Banibensu says there are three communication channels usually used by angry people.
Thus, Passive (holds anger in), Aggressive (shows or explodes with anger) and Assertive (expresses anger in a healthy way).
The Psychologist says in order to communicate healthily when angry, one has to first work on his or her belief system.
One can also ask questions such as whether or not it is really a sign of weakness expressing anger or a sign of hypocrisy not expressing it.
Also, does the object or subject of one’s anger really intend to make them angry?
“You have to also know your rights. You have the right to say ‘no’ or to offer no reasons or excuses for justifying your behaviour. You have the right to judge if you are responsible for finding solutions to other people’s problems. You have the right to change your mind and to disagree with someone’s opinion. You have the right to make mistakes and be responsible for them.”
“Communicate your feelings gracefully and honestly. You may use the sandwich method by saying something truthfully nice first. For example, you can say something like, ‘I am glad you are my friend, but I felt sad that you recently spoke ill about me. We need to discuss that. This shouldn’t destroy our friendship because you are still a great friend,’” he added.
He recommends the Biblical method of reconciliation in Matthew 18:15 which says, “If your brother sins against you, go and show him his fault, just between the two of you. If he listens to you, you have won your brother over.”
Rev Banibensu says it is totally impossible to prevent anger.
He says avoiding trouble spots only shuts down communication.
As such, they should rather open up about their displeasures and talk about them.
He says people should know why they are angry, think through to see if it is really necessary, face the situation, be assertive and learn to let go.
“Exercise regularly and stay fit, because when you are in peak physical condition, you will get less angry easily. Work with the less privileged. It can make you dissipate the energy needed to be angry,” he added.
Finally, Rev Banibensu suggests an appointment with a Licensed Psychologist or a Counsellor, regularly.