No Shortcuts: 
Have Patience

Vijai P. Sharma, Ph. D

People who habitually explode into a rage do not exercise patience to communicate what is bothering them. They take the easy way out which is essentially as follows: throw a temper, scare everybody, and let them figure out what to do to appease the hopping mad. 

Such people do not negotiate and try to resolve their disagreements.  They don't do much thinking about solving a problem. Pitching a big fit saves the person, the hassle of finding out from others as to what they want and what their problems are. Their message through their fit is, "Stop doing whatever is irritating me. I don't care what is happening to you and why you are doing it. " 

Research on assaultive men indicates that they are poor listeners. A poor listener does not get to learn much about other people and develops a limited ability to empathize with them. The tendency to fly into a rage stops a person from learning the skills required for resolving conflicts. On the other hand, a person may have learned to resort to angry outbursts because he or she lacks the conflict resolution skills. 

Abusive people have poor expressive skills. They do not know how to express painful feelings such as those of anger, betrayal, or sadness. Therefore, they do what they have learned well and that is, to become verbally or physically abusive. Many have stopped feeling the whole range of feelings, people normally experience. The only feeling they express is that of rage. 

People who habitually get into a rage also have a distorted perception. They see threats and insults even in innocent remarks and statements of others. Since they perceive others as hostile and rejecting, they fly off the handle with whomever they come in contact with. Then they minimize their aggressive behavior. When they punch their partner, they see it as just "touching" or "pushing" her, while the angry words of the partner are felt nothing short of a knife stab. When the evidence of their aggression is undeniable, they use the excuse of alcohol or drugs, "I lost it. I couldn't help it. "

The fact is that aggression is just one of many responses to frustration. A  frustrated person doesn't have to be violent. A person who views aggression as an acceptable behavior does not put a lot of effort in controlling his rage. He who believes a man should always be strong, superior, and dominant, has a hard time admitting to fault.  He doesn't see if he ever does anything wrong.  

How tough and strong a man is, is not to be measured by the size of his anger but by the size of the problem it takes to get him angry. A man's power is not to be measured by how destructive and powerful his rage is, but by the strength of his patience and self discipline. An out-of control anger is an emotional deficiency rather than a strength.

Let's do a cost benefit analysis. Let's look at the cost one pays for violent anger. A bully in a school can terrify a few kids but can never get admiration and friendship of other kids. A man who mixes rage with love is totally lonely. A rageful man doesn't come to experience true closeness with his partner. His partner never experiences happiness, she is reduced to a nervous wreck. His children are scared and distant from him and may grow to be equally out-of control and abusive in relationships. Many people suffer from a helpless rage. They don't know what makes them so angry. They may be trapped in their rage just like a person trapped in a house on fire.

So what is it like for a person who had a rage problem and got a handle on it? I am fortunate to have worked with people who have brought their rage in control. They say that that they have found happiness they have never known before. They have experienced a closeness with their partners they never experienced before. They are now capable of trusting their partner because the latter is not seen as threatening or insulting. They stop holding a grudge against women as a whole. They can now read people more accurately. They can better communicate their feelings to others. By relaxing and letting their guard down, they feel confident and in control of themselves. There are plenty of rewards waiting for those who decide to let go of their rage and violence. 


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Copyright 1996, Mind Publications 



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