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In Part I, we discussed how misunderstandings trigger anger and how different people can see the same trigger differently. I wondered if we could identity a common denominator in most disagreements and if so, was it possible we could eliminate teen aggression, couple aggression and arguments between friends, family and peers? Is there a way to bring about fewer altercations, better family unity and understanding between people with less arguments and fighting?
In her ninety-eighth year my mother beat pneumonia twice. She always said that she would know when her time was up – and she did. People would ask her what she attributed her many years to. Though she was not raised in a religious home, she would always say that Hashem knew what He was doing. We learn in the Torah when one honors parents the reward is a long life. She was certainly proof of this.
From Ecclesiastes we learn the expression "there is nothing new under the sun" and when you read history you see how true this is. From cults to politics it seems as if nothing is really ever new. That also includes technology. While a certain invention or discovery can be classified as new, we often find it in nature much earlier. Arctic fish used anti-freeze in their bloodstreams long before people put it in their cars. There are airplanes, but birds flew much earlier; there are satellites, but the moon was there earlier. Whales are better than submarines and as for nuclear fusion; the sun and stars had that worked out long before we did.
Francine has been coming to therapy for about a month. Her parents brought her due to problems and conflicts she was experiencing boat home, school and in the community. Like many teens, Francine did not see the value of therapy and felt the problems were only her parents' issues. Besides, if she needed to talk to anyone, she would speak with her friends.
Mr. and Mrs. S. came into the office with their ten-year-old daughter, Sharon. They were very distraught and had numerous complaints about Sharon’s behaviors. Not only was she having problems academically and behaviorally in school, but they also complained that every time they asked Sharon to do something at home it became a major altercation.
This is the fourth and final part on my series on anger, apersonal control and anger management. I believe there are several major beliefs one needs to appreciate when it comes to understanding anger, angry people and controlling anger and other emotions - let's call then the "secrets of anger." An important definition to remember before we discuss these secrets is that when something happens that causes us to have strong emotions, the thing happening is referred to as a trigger.
In continuing our discussion on anger management, I would like to share some basic beliefs that one must understand in their journey to anger management (which I also referred to as personal control). As we have previously discussed, anger control is directly related to self-esteem and confidence. That is, the better the self-esteem, the more capable the person will be in controlling emotions. Also, related to this is the concept we refer to as "shame."
In Part I of this four-part series, I introduced you to Aaron and his extreme anger. I ended that article with, "I must say that as I was describing this theory, Aaron's mouth dropped open, his eyes grew wide and tears formed in his eyes as he moved closer in his chair. The only thing he could say was, "How did you know?" With that comment, Aaron and I started a remarkable relationship. With all the counselors he had been to over the years, Aaron said that no one really understood him. Here was the angry young man who didn't want to be there, fully engaged and ready to work, ready to share his pain, ready to begin a trusting relationship."
Dr. and Mrs. Schwartz came into the office looking very tired, stressed, despondent and unsure of themselves. They came without Aaron because he had refused to come to the appointment. He claimed that at 15 he could decide for himself if, and when, he would come to appointments about his life. They began by describing an extraordinarily angry young man.
"Time waits for no man" is an old saying, though I'm not sure where it originated. Other such sayings like, "time flies by too quickly" or "the older you get, the faster time flies by," also contain meaningful messages. For me, I can't believe how quickly the days and years go by. When I think about it, I realize how we must make the very most of each day to accomplish what is important while we still have the opportunity.
Flip Wilson was a famous comedian and television actor who once used the line, "The Devil made me do it." At the time it was funny, though pretty soon completely overused. In hindsight, the quote can be a pretty accurate description of the misguidance of our youth, as well as many adults. Could this be another means of blaming the yetzer ha'ra for our misdeeds? Can we really get away with anything if it's not our fault or was an accident? What about the concept of "responsibility," how do we teach that to our children?
I recently saw a sign that read: "There are a million reasons for abuse, but not a single excuse." Sharon* (name has been changed) came into my office last week after being a client for almost a year. Over the past few weeks, she has been working towards disclosing a "secret." Finally, through an established trusting relationship, Sharon was ready to tell me her "secret." She is 16 years old and has had a 19-year-old boyfriend for almost a year. She was finally able to disclose to me how abusive this young man has been to her. Having told me of various forms of abuse, she also stated how angry she is at him, while at the same time she says that she cares for him.
Sometimes our sight is blurred by the magnitude of our surroundings. As the old saying goes, "you can't see the forest for the trees." Nevertheless, this is very true. Sometimes we don't see the obvious because of other distractions. In our tefillah, we ask G-d to "enlighten our eyes". We often miss the treasures that Hashem has given us; we take them for granted.