By Rev. Wambui Njoroge, M. Sci.
Anger management: For 10 years I had opportunity to teach anger management and conflict resolution as a component of prevention and intervention curriculum.I was responsible for counseling students with complex behavior issues from Pre-K to 12th grade.The issues included medical conditions prevalent in the school population,some juvenile issues, and even problems at home like disobedience to parents, domestic violence and violating curfew time in the community.The school system, like many others in the country have hired School Resource Officers (SROs),who are real Police Officers (POs).They are on call in most schools if there is such a thing as a fight.A physical fight over childish or adolescent issues like she said, he said,I did not say, they said can quickly lead a student to jail. It is quite different from years ago when I went to school.We had lines drawn on the dirt, and sometimes had (erase my star) tharia njata iyo and big fights followed.Some students went home with a bloody nose,but no one was arrested. Unfortunately times have changed.For example, in the state of GA, and perhaps in your state if a person receives 5 (fist) and return 5 (fist) kupigana both can be arrested and charged.
Schools have zero tolerance over issues that one might call childish or adolescent behavior. Newcomers to the United States,both parents and children/adolescents have to learn quickly how to switch culture codes.It is possible to switch codes using acquired knowledge and gained skills that are relevant to functioning in the American culture.There is no room for ignorance and it is not bliss.Individuals and especially young adults must learn how to manage anger.I am optimistic when I say that we can maneuver our way and escape a clash of cultures!
Let’s Talk About it: You will find this subject relevant to parents, professionals, young adults, children and teenagers.. A good beginning point is to ask a few questions and attempt to answer them.The answers are research based, and integrate scriptures in content.More so,I want to share with you counseling notes from years of experience.I call this approach heart to heart.This means that I am sharing from my life as well.Think for a while.Can you recall an angry episode that erupted into intense violence?From Africa to America,I remember witnessing these types of accounts in the village, school, home, or in business,even in government offices.Adults and young people alike would fight it out as if it were a spectator sport like soccer.The questions we need to answer are:What is anger?Is anger good or bad? What makes a person angry? How does your body tell you that you are angry? What do you do? In the article, there are pauses where you are encouraged to
What is anger? Some people say that in spelling A-nger only one letter “D” is missing from D-anger; or one letter short of Danger.Others say, “When I am angry,I see red.” or “I lose control.I can’t even remember what I did when I was angry,” “I don’t know why I was so worked up.”Some have been heard repeating,“I reach a boiling point”. And there are a few individuals who seem to get more angry than the precipitating event. Have you heard someone repeat, “â€¦will get angry at the drop of a hat.” Anger is a natural human emotion.This means that all human beings have potential to get angry.It is a human emotion just like happiness, sadness, fear, surprise.Since every human being have emotions,it is important to learn how to manage your emotions without placing them carelessly on others.The word of God reminds us, “to be angry and sin not.”Â (Ephesians 4:26) In Galatians 4 It is referred to as “the works of the flesh.”
Is Anger good or bad? Anger is neither good nor bad.If you are angry and exercise self control, perhaps anger can work for you.But if you lose control and act stupid, you might have to regret.So we cannot say that anger is good or bad.Instead we can accept that it all depends on how you respond when you are angry.You can use your anger to your advantage,like go for a short walk, join a running group.Or you can use it to your disadvantage by hitting, calling people names or kicking things.Then one day when there is nothing to kick, you will kick someone close to you. Here in the USA anger is sometimes referred to as being mad.But remember “being mad” in Africa can also mean you have lost your mind; that you are crazy, gone bananas, or you are mentally ill either permanently or temporarily. So don’t tell an angry person that they are mad or crazy as this might escalate the issue.
If everything is held constant, out of 100%, the things or issues that make you angry amount to about 10%. These might be things or issues that you might not be able to control.An example is when someone ignores you because of your accent. If this makes you angry, you can enroll in an accent coaching class.If you came to the United States as an adult this might not be so helpful. You may want to learn how to use your accent to accentuate the positive in your life. Remember Dr. Okello’s message at KCFA July Conference, “Accents converge in adoration, worship”That leaves you with 90% which is under your control.You are responsible for your actions, and essentially responsible for how you respond when you are angry.It is fine that you have intense emotions, but you own them.Other individuals have emotions too.The best way to manage anger is to learn what makes you angry and then practice not to allow yourself to get angry or mad at the drop of a hat. Refuse to use your life situation as an excuse for being angry and acting out. Refuse to use your sickness, your background,your ethnicity or such things as an excuse. Instead learn to manage your anger.
You might want to gauge yourself by developing your own scale of how intense some things make you feel.For example, on a scale of 1 to 10, one being the lowest level of what makes you angry and 10 being the highest level of your boiling point, getting fired from work can be a 3. You can get another job. But being placed in ICE custody can escalate to a 7; if you get a divorce it might escalate to an 8 or 9; but the death of a spouse, child or a loved one is definitely ranked the highest and most stressful event -10.This means that there are some events that are very stressful; and which have potential to make an individual intensely angry and for a long time.But even the most stressful event does not justify misplacing your anger on others. It is better to seek help like counseling which will equip a person with skills to respond to a psychosocial stressor like death or divorce.How then do you go about getting hold of your anger and keeping calm in the midst of all kinds of issues?
What makes a person angry? Different things make different people angry.What makes you angry now might not make you angry 1 or 2 weeks from now.If you learn how to manage your anger,the issues you are dealing with will become non-issues. Do you remember singing a song, “Turn your eyes upon Jesus,Look full in His wonderful face, and the things of earth will grow strangely dim, in the light of His glory and grace.”Your reactions to the people that you feel have treated you unfairly will change over time,and especially if you find a way to forgive, to let go and let God. In order to manage your anger, it is important to identify what makes you angry.What is it that sets you off? Is it hunger?In Africa it has been said, “A hungry man is an angry man.” Na nga’ragu ri ndihoyagwo uhoro. So make sure you are not hungry. What makes you see red? Some people refer to whatever it is that sets them off as anger triggers “ this reminds me of the trigger on a gun.Once it is released, that bullet cannot be retrieved.It will inflict maximum damage on an object.Likewise, once anger is released, the damage is done. Other references used to describe what make people angry are; push buttons,the igniting event, the stressor,the thing, the person,or the place. Even a place can make you angry if the last time you were there you had a negative experience, or if visiting there evokes strong negative memories.
Here are more examples of issues that have potential to make one angry: words that hurt others -children and youth that talk back or bad mouth parents,insults,being told you have an accent, put-downs, those who work with young people in USA/they like to mimic your accent, dominant culture repeating to you,“I don’t know what you are saying.” Or being told, “I don’t understand your accent,” or that you have a thick accent, name-calling, being teased or picked on, being bullied at school for students; and having a Bose who is a bully;not getting credit for something one has done well, or not doing well at work, being made to wait because a person is late for an appointment, especially here in the States not keeping time for appointments or being late, Church and social services that goÂ over time.Not being able to get the job you qualify for, or being paid lower than the going wages,not being able to support your family back home, being unemployed, being in debt, being divorced,feeling lonely and away from home,losing a loved one,unable to travel home when you want to;being in limbo you cannot plan because you are waiting for immigration papers, threats of deportation,fear of immigration,failed dreams, having your heart broken by a lover,rejection by friends, hurt feelings, racial discrimination, not passing national exams for licensing,for students it could be failing grades, not graduating with your class, not qualifying to attend a college of your choice, being quarreled and endless lectures at home, for a husband it could be disrespect from a wife now that we are in America! For a wife it could be feeling you are not valued for who you are. It could be tribalism, social injustice, chronic illness, terminal illness and so forth. The list is endless
Technology and Anger/Email/Text Messages/Face book Postings¦Twitter, Whatapp? Skype?Instagram? the list keeps growing: Technology has power to annoy. In business or ministry communication, become a master in reading angry messages intended to instigate a fight, cause strife, or invite you to an online argument. Do not reply. Do not forward it to validate your anger. Wait until you are calm.After all it is your computer or telephone. You can control your response in all things, and at all times. You own your response. You own your emotions. You pay for the telephone and internet! The anger instigator or trigger does not pay for these services.God has given you power and authority to do certain things well.Let one of the things you do well be anger management. To manage anger is definitely a strength of character,not a weakness.To walk away from an angry person is acting smart, safe and sensible.It is not being a coward.
How does your body let you know you are angry?It is important to identify and to monitor your body warning signs. When you are angry, your body lets you know that you are beginning to get angry or that you are very angry. Learn your body warning signs and become a master of your anger. Some of the warning signs are loud voice when someone signals that you are being loud, you shout even more.If you are from another country,you might speak in your mother tongue or Swahili to someone who doesn’t understand your language;they might think you are cursing them. When you are angry you have rapid speech, your heart beats increase, your muscles tighten, some people’s eyes actually turn red, you might begin to throw or kick things around, feeling like you want to scream, you are sure the only relief will come from fighting, based on gender and age, some may cry, some even begin taking off clothing like a shirt,or tightening a leso. Teenagers and young adults begin packing and threatening to run away, or leave home.While some of these things can be real, most of the time they are manipulative.You get the pointâ€¦learn your body warning signs. In all cultures, do not ever tell or talk about someone’s Mama repeating this to anyone when you are angry seems to escalate issues and can get you in more trouble than the precipitating event.I have worked with many cultures, and that one is a no it is more like a sacred cow. Do not cross that line.
Example of Body Warning Signs: Whenever I teach about body warning signs I remember my Mom. She had a calm and gentle personality. Even as a child, sometimes I wondered how she got to be that way. In today’s personality inventory,I believe my mom would emerge as having “Total Personality.” She was a reasonable woman. She would not beat you for being a child or a teenager, nor for making mistakes. Only when you disobeyed household rules was a whooping certain.She had a way of letting you know that she was angry and you are going to be whooped. What in Kenya we call beating.My Mom knew her body warning signs.She was in tune or had learned how to manage her emotions. She was highly predictable. I have since learned that what you can predict, you can prevent. Calming down My mother was in tune with her body warning signs.She raised 11 of us and I cannot remember her shouting or raising her voice at any one time. She behaved like this even to strangers and people in the community. As a result she got a long with the majority of people.Sometimes mothers need to raise their voices to be heard by children, not my Mom.
As an adult child,I was curious to know why she remained so calm. She visited me in the USA and I asked her questions about parenting.Her reply,“If you make it a point of screaming at all your 11 children; the house girl, Â shamba workers, neighbors, and at your place of work, you would drive yourself crazy.”I asked her, how about when Dad would quarrel us? She chuckled and said, I probably would not have had my teeth showing her teeth. They were all there at 73 years of age. Without raising her voice she would announce, “Ha ha, Child, Wambui you are beginning to make me really angry.” Then I knew it was time to straighten up, or a serious beating would follow.If I did not heed to this sign, later I could not escape my mother’s whooping.First she would dismiss everyone who was not a part of the issue.Then ask me to sit down. She would calmly explain why a beating is necessary as a youth I did not understand why I needed to be whooped essentially it was a moot point.Second she would send me to a nearby bush to cut a little stick, which in turn she would use for the whooping.All this time would help her calm down, and in turn this time helped me think and reason with myself concerning what I had done. In the end the beating was not as bad as had been announced. Nevertheless, when I turned 12 years old, for some reason, I declared to my parents and everyone in my home that I was off limits. Nobody had a right to ever whoop me!That must have been a moment of revelation from God. The learning and the lessons learned begun a long time ago. However, it took me many years to learn how to calmly respond to situations the way my mom did. It takes a lot of practice. At least I know what makes me angry and I can avoid anger triggers.Once you identify your body warning signs you are on the way to managing your anger.
(3) What do you do?Learn how to calm down!When your body reminds you that anger is definite, you need to learn cool down techniques.Listen to those around you; be in tune with your body. Have you been so angry that people tried to calm you down and said something like, “Hey calm down, and just be cool. You can learn many techniques that will help you calm down.They include taking a deep breathe through your nose, and slowly breathe out with your mouth open, like runners do. You can also count backward allowing one second in between the numbersâ€¦count from 20 to 1, alternate both/breath and count as many times as it takes you to calm down, ignoring behavior; removing yourself from the environment that is upsetting you,walking away or disassociating with people who make it their business to make you mad.There are some people that you will not be able to please in this life time.They only see the worst in you,so why not decide to associate with individuals who encourage you, the ones that respect you. If it is written materials,you can always wait for a few days to respond.My teacher once taught us, write the angry letter. Keep it for 2 weeks.Then read it and see if you still want to send it. After 2 weeks, there are some things you would never allow to leave your computer or your telephone. So whenever possible,live peacefully with all people (Romans 12:18).
You have seen recently the speed with which individuals move and use a gun to settle problems. Decide early that you will not settle a dispute in a destructive manner.It is not necessary to wait until someone picks up a weapon. You are no match for a gun, a panga or a knife or even a strong fist. At least cowards return home to their mothersâ€¦yesÂ mari guoya mainukire nyina. It is better to be called a coward than to be killed or hurt over a problem that has a solution.No matter what technique you select, you will need to practice it, and remind yourself when you are angry that you can be a STAR of your anger. STAR is simply an acronym for STOP.TAKE A DEEP BREATH AND RELAX.I am remembering the Reality TV Show, American Idol, or Dancing with the stars. Have you watched anything like that?The performers sing and practice being a “STAR.”You too can be a STAR of your own emotions.You will be able to resolve issues amicably and reduce stress in your life.All you have to do is practice when you are not angry.Your body system will internalize what you train it to do.Discipline your emotions before you are set off.Then when you start to get angry, remind yourself that you are a STAR.When you calm down, the stressor or trigger does not seem as bad as you had perceived.Do not let anger take control of your life. Become the manager of your emotions. Yes you can!
What Next? Part III: Let’s Talk About Ways of Expressing Anger: (1) Healthy ways of expressing anger; (2) Unhealthy ways of expressing anger; and (3) Self-destructive ways of expressing anger that have potential to negatively impact or destroy your life and the lives of your loved ones. John 10:10 Jesus came to give us life and life more abundantly. Safe guard your life.
Rev. Wambui /Ministers with Triumph Christian Ministries, Inc. She is a wife, a mother, motivational speaker and a minister of the gospel. She facilitates workshops/seminars on Creative Parenting & Family Life Education Programs for Children/Youth and their Families. She speaks in conferences/churches/community. She delivers educational programs within a developmental context/integrating faith and family values She relates well cross-culturally. Current/Chairlady-KCFA Southern GA; and Immediate Past-KCFA National Director of Women (2005-2013).firstname.lastname@example.org/July 2014(C)