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Theory: Anger, what is it good for …

Published: Friday, June 13, 2014 3:26 p.m. CDT

Anger. What is it good for? Almost absolutely nothing.

This is part two of my column on Anger. If you missed part one, just go to the  Kane County Chronicle website at kcchronicle.com and search for “Jamie Palmer.”

In my June 7 column, I discussed why we misuse anger.

Today, I will be talking about how we can avoid anger altogether.

The Prophet Muhammad is quoted as saying, “The strong man is not a good wrestler; but the one who controls himself when angry.”

It takes a very strong person to control himself or herself once angered. So much is working against them: Emotional pain, unresolved issues and the physiological changes that anger can trigger.

If we succeed in calming ourselves down without resolving the issue, we have only stored our negative feelings away for another day. The anger response is infinitely more damaging to the angry person than to the target of the anger. Anger and its physiological consequences have been linked to the development of chronically high blood pressure, heart attacks, stroke, premature death, as well as the destruction of interpersonal relationships. The harmful effects of a lifetime of anger on one family can be passed down through several generations.

I say, why get angry in the first place? Unless you are protecting your family or yourself from physical harm, there is never a good reason for anger.

I can think of many examples in life where staying calm in the first place would produce a better outcome than allowing a situation to get out of hand (lion taming and snake handling, for instance).

The most important of these examples, however, is within our everyday personal interactions. Please note, calm does not mean quietly seething. 

Approaching issues before they become emotionally charged can prevent us from losing control. When something is just starting to bother you, way before you have a lot of emotions built up over the matter, talk the situation out calmly and openly (no games, no defenses, no manipulations). 

Approach the discussion with the mindset of wanting to resolve the issue compassionately, rather than wanting to win. Open your mind to understanding the other person’s position. Set aside any emotional display and seek out a positive resolution. It will always be easier, and the outcome more positive, if you approach a challenge from this perspective. Remember that everyone sees things differently; and so conflict can never be avoided. But if you see conflicts in a positive light, as challenges that are meant to build relationships, rather than destroy them, the rewards to you will be great.

Anger is nothing more than a bad habit and can be eliminated from your life altogether. You just have to work on it one day at a time. By replacing your negative thoughts with positive thoughts and feelings for others, and by having a compassionate heart, you will transform not only your life, but the lives of those around you.
• Jamie Palmer is a Batavia resident and a licensed clinical professional counselor and senior mediator with more than 35 years of experience in the field of psychology working with families, couples and individuals. She can be reached at editorial@kcchronicle.com.

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