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   FIND WHAT YOU     CAN DO ABOUT        YOUR TEMPER

Change the Way You Think - Simply put, controlling anger means changing the way you think. Angry people tend to curse, swear, or speak in highly colorful terms that reflect their inner thoughts. When you're angry at your loved one or at the situation in which you find yourself, your thinking can get very exaggerated and overly dramatic. Try replacing these thoughts with more rational ones. For instance, instead of telling yourself, "Oh, it's awful, it's terrible, everything's ruined," tell yourself, "It's frustrating, and it's understandable that I'm upset about it, but it's not a reason to get angry.”

 

Wrongful Words Alienate and Humiliate - Be careful of words like "never" or "always" when talking about yourself or someone else. "This !&*%@ machine never works," or "you're always forgetting things" are not just inaccurate, they also serve to make you feel that your anger is justified and that there's no way to solve the problem. Wrongful words also alienate and humiliate people who might otherwise be willing to work with you towards a solution; hopefully included will be your loved one. Remind yourself that getting angry is not going to fix anything and it won't make you feel better (and may actually make you feel worse).

 

Find Someone To Talk To - There are many caregivers who realize they are harboring anger, but they don’t know what to do with it. Their sense of decency, on display in their generous volunteering, prevents them from expressing what they feel, furthering an increase in their general frustration. If this description fits you, find someone to discuss it with. Do not let anger or guilt fester into conduct you may regret later. Just the simple act of discussing your feelings may be hugely beneficial.

Jumping To Conclusions Is Dangerous - Angry people tend to jump to—and then act on—conclusions, and some of those conclusions can be very inaccurate. The first thing to do if you're in a heated discussion is slow down and think through your responses. Don't say the first thing that comes into your head, but slow down and think carefully about what you want to say. At the same time, listen carefully to what the patient is saying and take your time before answering. When necessary, walk away. Find some personal space. Then come back and finish what was started if it can lead to agreement and/or compromise.

What Anger Is Not – Is Sherrie’s anger justified? You decide! Anger is not a justification for being placed in a demanding caregiving environment. Anger is not the armament we use to defend our feelings of mistreatment. Anger should not be the shield we hide behind to conceal our hurt feelings. Anger is not a proper way to express dissatisfaction or displeasure. Anger is not to be used when addressing a loved one. Anger is not the way to assume control or respect. Anger is, almost always, not proper conduct, particularly in caregiving.

 

Anger is Natural and Powerful – Sherrie feels trapped in an aggressive situation that is both frustrating and saddening. The instinctive, natural way to express anger is to respond aggressively. Anger is a natural, adaptive response to threats; it inspires powerful, often aggressive feelings and behaviors, which allow us to fight and to defend ourselves when we are attacked, whether physically or vocally. A certain amount of anger, therefore, might be necessary for our survival. On the other hand, we can't physically lash out at every person or our loved one whenever they irritate or annoy us. Laws, social norms, and common sense place limits on how far our anger should be allowed to take us. I know that anger can be controlled. I also know that a more normal attitude, if energetically sought, can take its place.

Is Anger Harmful? – It can be, but doesn’t have to be. Anger is frequently the result of frustration, or of feeling blocked or thwarted from something one feels to be important. While wondering about the best way to discuss anger, I ran across this statement in Wikipedia, “Anger can also be a defensive response to underlying fear or feelings of vulnerability or powerlessness. Anger management programs consider anger to be a motivation caused by an identifiable reason”…The Wikipedia author suggests that anger can actually be logically analyzed, and a plan developed to assist individuals overcome their anger. I like what Raymond W. Novaco said in 1984, "We all experience anger; anger only becomes a serious concern when an individual is angry too frequently, too intensely, and for too long."

 

Bev knows about anger, it comes from her husband; she is lonely and frustrated:

“I try to have conversations with my husband, but he doesn’t remember people or sometimes he just listens to me and never actually talks to me much. But he does have a temper and gets frustrated easily which leads to us not getting along. That makes me sad and more lonely than ever . . . I try to put on a happy face and not let anyone know just how I really feel. Tonight I just wondered if anyone else was going through this too, and I’m sorry for all of you . . . who feel much as I do. We have a tough job, and my faith in God and Bible readings give me some strength.” (1a)

 

Does Caregiving Cause Anger? – There are times, when an individual is in a caregiving scenario, when the heavy responsibilities of caregiving may be the cause of anger. But usually they are not. We allow ourselves to get angry. There seems to be a chain of emotions that accompanies anger. At the top of the list might be additional time needed to complete work burdens. Add to the time issues, medical expectations and a general lack of experience also contribute. Next add the feelings of loneliness. Then the tragic conclusion - the individual feels like a victim. All of the previous realities can lead up to what may feel like justifiable anger. But is it really justifiable?