Analysis: GODFREY CHITALU
NOT that I have had no compelling reasons but I pride my anger management record with my wife of 20 years.
She has taught me how to manage anger, stress, abuse, violence and related vices common in relationships. Surprisingly, our nation has seen inordinate levels of domestic violence and emotional abuse regardless of gender. Domestic violence and emotional abuse are uncivil behaviours mainly directed at controlling or subduing one person in a two-pronged relationship.
It is important to ensure that in any relationship, no one person is given leeway to mismanage things by exerting undue control on the other. Whether dating, cohabiting, wasting each other’s time, single, married or separated, there is need to look out for tell-tale signs. Most people who are battered, abused and even killed, as is the case in our country, have been given danger signs. If the signs are leading to such problems, seek outside help.
Before it graduates to battering and death, anger and its management conspire as one root in relationships that need to be looked at critically. Whether your relationship is bound by religion, atheism or even animism, there are basic rules that help you not to be controlled by anger. You need to be on the lookout for the signs.
For instance, our last-born child knows that when father is angry, the voice is raised; he usually jokes at that critical time; “daddy lower your voice”, which is an intrinsic reminder that I might do something untypical of me.
Yes, keeping your temper in check is not only stressful but challenging in the heat of things. When you recognise your anger ladder, it makes it easier not to go to the apex. If I raise my voice, my relationships will smell a rat and try to control the situation. I also release my anger through deep breathing, raised voice and actions or reactions. I endeavour not to reach the action and reaction points.
Maybe that is why the Bible insists on giving us anger gems: do not let the sun go down when you are still angry, everyone must be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, anger resides in the lap of fools.
Do not associate with one easily angered, quick temper displays folly, what causes fights and quarrels among you – don’t they come from your desires that battle within you?
We have seen death on the roads because of simple failure to control anger. How do you respond to children’s tantrums? Uncontrolled anger can be a menace in a relationship, especially to those who are used to having their own way.
A good rule of thumb whenever one is confronted with anger is to breathe deeply and take time to think before you act. This allows you to recollect, re-strategise, rethink, evaluate and make firm decisions in regard to the thing that has just angered you. Lest you become confrontational, remember all the time to focus on the idea and not the person that has angered you. It is good to respond to your anger once you have regained your “mind”.
As mentioned, if you focus on the problem rather than the person behind it, the “bad blood” solutions easily come forth. Do not try to exert control on the person who has angered you. I know of tribal cousins who have seemingly provoked husbands for jokingly flirting with other people’s wives. Why should one pull the trigger over such non-contractual tribal acts?
It is only when you are calm that you can confront issues in a level-headed manner. Not letting the sun go down when you are still angry is one sure way of looking for time out or short period in which to regurgitate your thoughts. It is during such periods that you can think through your situation and perhaps come up with a solution.
Most spouses want to control their pals but there should be a limit to the remote game; even when you are one in marriage, you have different temperaments that need coupling. Others suggest that doing a countdown or just ordinary counting up to 10 or zero helps you to control your anger before it reaches reaction point.
For anger prevention, generally those with an exercise regime rarely reach anger reaction levels. Remember, if uncontrolled anger leads to any violence, whether threatened or actual, seek for outside help: friends, relatives, community, church and, above all, the police.
The author is a social and political commentator.