In a Moment of Anger

In a Moment of Anger

Being able to manage our emotion well is crucial to our health as well as our ability to foster healthy relationships with others, particularly our loved ones.

Recent studies have revealed that the state of our emotional well-being plays an important role in our physical health. For instance, people who are depressed are at a higher risk of a heart attack, and those who have experienced a traumatic event are more likely to report poor physical health, often complaining of tiredness, loss of energy, bodyache and other vague physical symptoms.

Conversely, people with positive attitudes towards life generally feel good about themselves, are more joyous and happy about their lives. A good laugh can lift the spirit up and can even increased the body’s resistence to infections. Feeling good about ourselves also makes us comfortable in our relationship with others.
Big Problems Arise From Small Problems

“Big problems arise from small problems;
The wise takes care of all his small problems,
Thus he has no problems.”
– Tao
The above is so true, and I’ll illustrate it with an example.

Mr Lee wanted to watch TV. His favourite movie was showing. However, his wife wanted him to take her grocery shopping and so reluctantly he obliged.

On the way to the shopping complex, they were caught in a bad traffic congestion, and a trip which normally takes 15 minutes took an hour instead. Being an unwilling shopper, Mr Lee was getting angrier by the minute and was close to a boiling point by the time they reached the shopping complex.

As they entered the car park in the complex, Mr Lee asked his wife to be on the look out for any vacant spot as they drove around. Just then, Mrs Lee’s mobile phone rang and she quickly answered the call and continued to chat with her friend.

Meanwhile, Mr Lee spotted an empty parking spot but before he could reach it, another driver quickly reversed into it.

That was the last straw for Mr Lee! He blew his top!

Before he knew it, he started shouting at the driver, using all kinds of foul languages. When his wife tried to calm him down, he turned towards her and started shouting at her, accusing her of chatting on the phone instead of helping him to look for a vacant parking lot.

Naturally that outburst spoiled the outing, and they both completed their grocery shopping in hostile silence.
A Feeling Unacknowledged

Looking back, we can easily see that Mr Lee’s outburst occurred because of his frustration at missing his movie. The traffic congestion only made his simmering frustration worse, and the parking incident was the last straw.

Thus, a small frustration has turned into an angry outburst!

Often, unacknowledged feelings such as this simmer within us, and they slowly and silently grow into full blown anger or outbursts when we are least able to control them. It is easier to manage minor frustrations before they become big and unmanagable.

Thus, an effective way to manage our emotion is to quickly identify our feelings and acknowledging them when they arise. This also makes it easier for us to recognise the cause or trigger that give rise to the feelings. Of course, this is easier said than done.

To be able to recognise and identify our feelings the moment they arise, we need to practise constant self-awareness. This can be achieved through meditative practice, journaling or self-reflection. Another method is through feedbacks from those around us.
In A Moment of Anger

In a moment of anger, we often say things we regret later. Unfortunately, words once spoken can never be withdrawn. In this way, many good relationships are scarred, some beyond repair. Thus it is important for us to learn to manage our emotion, particularly our anger.

Likewise, if we are on the receiving end, we need to learn forgiveness for we are not immuned against this same folly. If such outbursts are uncommon, and we know that the perpetrator is remorseful and puts in the effort to improve himself, we should readily forgive him. Why would we want to sacrifice a good relationship just because of a single event?

On the other hand, if this outburst is but one of many, frequent unreasonable outbursts, and we are often made the scapegoat, then we need to re-evaluate the relationship, or seek professional couples therapy.

In short, big problems in our relationship with others often arise when we ignore or allow them the opportunity to grow. Thus by dealing with them when they are still small and managable, we can prevent big problems from arising. The trick is to catch them early and this requires a high level of self-awareness. We can improve our self-awareness through the various means mentioned earlier.