“Often when people experience or appear to show anger, it’s because they are also feeling fear or perceive a threat, and they are responding with a 'fight' response to this."
- Dr James Woollard, a consultant child and adolescent psychiatrist -
I have been reading reports of many people who include motorists, foreigners and our locals who have lack patience and used their pent-up frustrations to hurl vulgarities and physically abuse another person.
The recent cases of aggression include the Swiss national and former commodities trader Yannick Alexandre Varidel, 28, who was sentenced to four weeks jail after he pleaded guilty punching a taxi driver. Then there was the 57-year-old-man who was arrested after he was alleged to “forcefully grabbed" the arm of the one of National Environment Agency (NEA) officers spotted him smoking in a non-smoking covered walkway in Woodlands
Accidents on our busy roads are becoming an almost daily affair. Impatient drivers who do not practice proper time management on the roads will turn aggressive and hit out at fellow motorists when they lose patience. I recall one incident where an elderly Catholic priest was assaulted in the night when an impatient young driver took matters into his own hands. The man was convicted.
Rebellious behaviour can also spill over to our school children and our youngsters when there is poor or little parental supervision.
But despite the stresses that comes with a fast-changing world that can cause people to lose their cool due to poor anger management, we can always turn a negative situation into a positive one where a learning journey helps us to improve our lives.
Uncontrolled anger left unchecked can heighten to aggression and violence within the family and in the community. When people get angry, their heart begins to distance a fair bit. To cover that distance, they must shout at another person so that they can be ‘heard.’
On the other hand, well-managed anger can motivate impatient and angry people to make positive changes in their lives.
With Singapore’s population expected to grow in the years ahead to meet the needs of a fast ageing population, for sure we would have to share spaces and services at food centres, at hospitals, polyclinics, on the roads, in supermarkets, – the list goes on. That said, it is gives us more reason to exercise patience and being accommodating – otherwise we will end up picking quarrels with one another – for anything and everything.
The key to managing anger is Patience.
Patience is the ability to tolerate waiting, delay, or frustration without becoming agitated or upset. It's the ability to be able to control our emotions or impulses and proceed calmly when faced with difficulties. Needless to say, patience does not come easily for most of us and it's probably harder now to be patient as the pace of life is going at break-neck speed.
To this end, we need to take proactive measures to equip us with proper anger management. Here’s where the learning curve begins.
We need to control anger before anger controls us. Even though anger is a normal and healthy emotion which all us as human experience from time to time, it can be destructive if it is poorly managed.
One way to control our anger is to count 10 seconds when you feel deeply annoyed and frustrated. That will at least help you calm down so that you are in a better position to think clearly. When one is angry all the thoughts become muddled up.
Then breathe in slowly and try to relax when you breathe out. Experts are of the view that “You automatically breathe in more than out when you’re feeling angry, and the trick is to breathe out more than in."
We need to exercise regularly so that our immune system does not weaken. When our immune system weakens, we can be prone to being inflicted with all kinds of sickness, and that includes depression. When one falls ill, he/she can become impatient and frustrated and they can take it out on the next person. Our nurses and health care professionals have been victims of verbal and physical abuse.
Everyone one living here and they must include foreigners and our locals need to have a clear understanding of managing anger. For our foreign workers who include maids and nurses who serve the untiring tasks of taking care of the elderly, it is crucial that they are taught to recognise the anger signs and how to manage it in their charges.
Talks at public forums and dialogue sessions with the professionals can be held at the community centres, at the workplace, in religious centres and in schools and tertiary institutions. Guest speakers can include ordinary Singaporeans who have overcome adversities in life and have found Patience to be an asset that have carried them through their life journey.
Useful tips on manging anger can also be disseminated through newsletters and brochures.
RAYMOND ANTHONY FERNANDO