Anger: Psychologists say it might be triggered by low self-esteem.
One… two… three… Sam counted as he went up the stairs. It was a regular sunny Saturday afternoon. His elder sister finally decided to take him for one of her choir practice sessions.
Unconcerned about the “do.. re.. mi..fa.. so” chants at the rehearsal, Sam decided that running up and down the stairs was more pleasurable than listening to music that sounded less like music to his ears.
Four… five… Sam counted as he raced up and down the stairs at the entrance of the church hall. He had barely reached his favourite even number six before someone blocked his leg; Sam missed a step and fell badly on his knees.
Angered and jumping up bitterly, Sam was ready for a fight.
Aminatou was just 5 and didn’t intend to hurt the poor boy.
She froze for a minute as she watched him turn from happily jumping up and down the stairs at one moment to angry and furious the next.
Confused at what he might do next, she ran from the scene before he could gain enough stability to attack.
Sam watched her run at top speed, disappearing into the dry season dust her feet raised.
His anger turned to laughter as he watched the poor child flee. Still feeling like hitting her for what she did, he chose to go up the stairs towards the church door and wait for his sister.
Watching these kids got me thinking about how our minds work.
Have you ever taken note of the first thing that comes to mind when someone hurts you?
It doesn’t need to be something as big as falling; let’s say they change the TV channel while you were glued to your favourite program.
Maybe they broke your makeup kit (yeah, the women can best relate lol) or just said something you consider outrageous and rude.
I know, the list is endless.
We have all lived Sam’s ordeal more times than our minds can recall. After these events, the three main things that stick most often are:
How they made use feel
How we almost reacted &
What we finally did
Our memory replays the past scene as action, almost reaction and actual reaction.
What happened in between the action and actual reaction that made us pause and do something else is the mystery.
In Sam’s case, he almost hit the little kid but chose to let her go despite how he felt.
“Action”, “almost reaction” and “caution” are the phases he went through.
Our minds establish and react to certain levels of caution triggered when we feel anger. Some people chose to listen to the voice of caution while others act on impulse (Sam acted on the former).
Leon F. Seltzer explains in one of his articles on Psychology today that most people who suffer from anger problems (and can’t listen to the inner voice of caution) are not just triggered by that particular situation; something is underlying that aggression.
Using the example of angry drivers, he explains that, the real issues provoking anger on the highway may not be wrong overtaking for instance.
Their bosses or spouse might have annoyed them before they headed out. That aggression transfers to everyone on the highway.
Having healthy self-esteem helps to prevent feelings of anger Seltzer recounts and can help put anyone in control of anger when it arises.
… we all need to find ways of comforting or reassuring ourselves when our self-esteem is endangered — whether through criticism, dismissal, or any other outside stimuli that feels invalidating and so revives old self-doubts.
If we’re healthy psychologically, then we have the internal resources to self-validate: to admit to ourselves possible inadequacies without experiencing intolerable guilt or shame.
But if, deep down, we still feel bad about who we are, our deficient sense of self simply won’t be able to withstand such external threats.
Reading this article brought me to the understanding that anger most often stems from a poor image of self.
This magnifies even the smallest of things done to us that attacks our esteem.
I’ve been guilty of this and currently making a conscious effort to watch my anger and find the exact cause of my irritation. Sometimes we may be ignoring the real issue while dwelling on what I like the call the iceberg's tip (which is just a small fraction of a bigger problem).
Next time someone annoys you, think again of what really pissed you off and how it affected your self-esteem.
Did they do something that deserves that level of outrage or are you struggling with an unsolved internal issue?
Amina a tiny 5-year-old was able to make 13 years old Sam fall.
Even if the fall didn’t hurt, the shame of a child pushing him to the ground was enough reason for him to go after and get her to “pay”.
But at 13, he had enough restraint and a healthy dose of self-esteem to let it go and reassure himself that falling wasn’t that bad.
Most importantly, Sam was empathetic, he saw how scared she was by the speed with which she took to leave the scene.
He knew she did wrong and going after her would have caused more harm than good.
How will you act next time someone makes you angry?
Be sure to review your actions and check it against your self-esteem and a tiny dose of empathy.
Also, it’s okay to write down how you feel and review it later when your mind is in a more rational mood (it works for me).
You can create an amazing blog post from your experience while reviewing your triggers and reaction. This can better help you understand and manage your mind and emotions.
Thanks for reading.
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