Do you think it’s possible to control your temper when feeling enormous pressure?
Anger is the one emotion of which we should take particular note. The very last thing we should be doing with it is ignoring it and pushing it aside. It is our inbuilt alarm system. It tells us that something is not right; we’re in danger, emotionally or physically; it alerts us to deception and lies; and bubbles over when our tolerances have been worn down and we’re no longer able to rein in our frustration. Anger is designed to raise the alarm and prepares the body for fight or flight.
Controlling our temper in any situation is a challenge and yet most of us feel we should be a whole lot better at it than we are. We associate anger with negative emotion and some of us have been raised with the belief that it is to be suppressed at all costs. The more it is suppressed or ignored the more likely it is to burst out and manifest in unpleasant ways and cause awful consequences.
I believe it is possible to control our tempers in challenging circumstances no matter how emotionally charged the situation may be. In fact I believe we should control our tempers. Uncontrolled anger plays havoc with personal, work and social relationships and can lead to isolation which has its own knock-on detrimental affects like poor mental health. We’ve all spent time with an angry person. It is emotionally draining and uncomfortable as we wait for them to blow their stack increasing an already stressful environment which has just become toxic. No one hangs around after someone has let rip; we’re all heading for the hills waiting for the dust to settle.
Controlling our temper takes years of practice and a good sense of self to overcome the impulsive angry outbursts that leave us feeling sheepish and embarrassed when we have to front up and apologise. It is surprisingly difficult for adults to learn how to regulate their emotions to good effect. As children we became angry when our needs weren’t met or we felt we weren’t being listened to. If we were being ignored or unfairly treated we became angry at our parents or siblings. If we were hurt and disappointed it would likely be exhibited as an outburst or tantrum.
Most of us have been in the presence of an adult who has tantrums. When I witness such an outburst I am reminded that the cause of the outburst may not actually be the cause of the outburst. It is the last straw delivered when we are at the end of our emotional capability to behave well. Past hurts, disappointments, broken promises, missed opportunities, dashed dreams are the embers on top of which we gently place the last straw. Why are we surprised then when it reignites the fire and sparks fly.
In stressful times I have learned to take time out, walk away, count to ten s-l-o-w-l-y or simply remain silent. Watching someone lose their temper is an ugly experience. It looks ugly, the words are hurtful, often untrue, someone loses dignity and the damage can be irreparable. Allow me to digress momentarily. How about the next time we lose the plot we take the equivalent of a selfie video (if there’s such a thing). I’m sure we’d only have to watch the video once before we took our angry behaviours seriously enough to do something about them.
Working with people in extremely stressful circumstances I’ve been witness to more uncontrolled angry outbursts than I care to remember. While I acknowledge the enormous pressure some people are under I also know there is a better way and yes it is possible to control your temper. Like every new skill it just needs to be learned and it takes time to be learned.