Thursday, November 04, 2004

Dealing with pent-up anger

Dealing with pent-up anger

By Bob Garon
TODAY Newspaper
Wednesday, November 3, 2004 9:11 PM

Hi, Bob: How do you handle arguments, Bob? Honestly, I’m really not good at it, especially with people who are oppressive, using their powers and authority to intimidate others. That’s why I would rather write to a person than talk to him in person to avoid confrontation.

I grew up in a family where we were not allowed to talk (or answer back, as some old-fashioned people say) to explain our side. We were always told that whatever we hear, however hurtful, we should accept it and never talk back. I grew up questioning that rule, Bob. I never understood why such a rule exists in the family.

That’s why as I grew up, I learned to fight to let people know how I feel and what I want to say. I even do that now to my family. To tell you honestly, I hate speaking my mind because if I do, almost always it ends up with an argument or misunderstanding. I’m not disrespectful of the olds, of authority and even of my parents, but since I grew up suppressing my feelings so as not to disrespect anybody, I think, I grew up disrespectful.

There are many instances when I lost my temper. I don’t call people names or hit anybody, Bob, but my problem is I cannot control my voice, and my anger really shows in my face. Although I want to speak in a lower voice in any argument, I always fail. I cannot control my voice. I do shout and this I want to avoid. I was told before by a very good person that he knows how I care for people, he admires my way of fighting for anyone’s rights, but what I should be aware of is the person I’m dealing with. I should change my approach. I accept all these, Bob.

Sometimes, I forget that I’m talking to my father or to a person in authority. I forget all about that. When I argue, what I only see is that this person doesn’t listen and he or she wants me to just stop talking. My father sees women as weak and not intelligent enough to deal with him. He tells me in sarcasm that I am very intelligent and will not listen to him at all.

I want you to tell me how to argue without putting myself in a bad light. How will I control myself and my voice if someone tells me to stop? How will I accept it when the one I’m arguing with is using emotional blackmail to make me stop? How, Bob? Please help me.

Thank you and I look forward to hearing from you.

More power! —M.A.

* * *

Your request isn’t of the usual kind. This is why it is quite interesting.

I’m not sure you need to learn how to argue in a more quiet, measured tone of voice. It seems to me that your problem is more of anger and unresolved issues that date back to your childhood.

It’s quite obvious to me that you have lots of anger toward your dad who “sees women as weak and not intelligent enough to deal with.”

Who constantly uses sarcasm to put down and ignore people.

It seems that you have a long history of frustrations and unresolved issues with your dad. No doubt in my mind that your being in a perpetual fighting mood stems from these frustrations and putdowns. Some kids in similar situations grow quiet and submissive. They keep their anger to themselves, bite their lip, and grin and bear it.Others, like you, cannot fight back. They become overly aggressive equally with friend and foe. It’s all about pent-up anger that is overflowing into their relationships. You may also have a negative view of men who don’t listen very carefully and perhaps of men in general because of the strong impact your father had and still has on you.

You may be a victim of some glaring injustices and favoritism in the family. Years of frustrations in dealings with this situation have resulted in hair-trigger responses to people in general.

In short, you’re so full of unresolved anger about so many issues that it spills out at a moment’s notice. Your hostility is aimed at dad even when you fight with others. Your angry tone is a product of never being able to get your point across in your family. Your friends even become victims of your anger toward your dad.

I can’t be sure of all this because a lot more time would be needed to sort things out. Still, I think you should spend time looking into the causes of your anger before learning how to manage it.

Why not write me more about this so that I can confirm and pursue this angle. Tell me more about it. I’ll wait for it. Till then, remind yourself that your friends are not your dad. Always keep in mind that most likely your angry disposition comes from past family hurt.

Keep yourself from firing shots at others when the verbal bullets might be meant for your dad.

Lastly, don’t take everything so seriously. Learn to simply ignore crazy statements from irresponsible persons. You’re no longer a kid who has to take it. You can and should just walk away and stay out of useless fights and arguments. This is for your own sanity.


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