Dealing with Anger: Your Own (and Other Peoples’)

How to deal with anger -- whether it's a stranger shouting at you or your own urge to shout back

Credit: Flickr/hardcoristo

Shouting at someone isn’t normally this cute

You might feel like shouting back when someone takes you to task, but de-escalating your anger and theirs might be the better option

The stranger screaming at me about my bicycling skills (or lack thereof) was bad enough. But when I found myself lustily shouting back, I wondered if maybe our collective anger wasn’t getting out of hand.

So I went in search of expert answers from Alistair Moes, who’s been facilitating anger management for more than 15 years.

An Anger Management Expert Weighs In

Q. I feel like our anger is really close to the surface nowadays. Why is that?

A. Moes agrees to a certain extent. “Our lives are more public these days. Our anger seems to be noticed more. But I’m not sure if there’s any more anger now than there used to be. Certainly as our municipalities get busier there’s more stress with more population.”

Q. If someone’s angry with you, how do you keep from being angry back?

A. “Hopefully for your sake you’ve had enough sleep, and you’ve had enough to eat that day, and you’ve been exercising and you’ve been taking good care of yourself, so that you’re in a better position not to join that person. When people escalate it’s like they regress in emotional maturity. So when one person starts acting like a two-year-old, are you going to join that person?”

Taking a Deep Breath Instead of Joining in Anger

Q. So how do you de-escalate?

A. “It’s so inviting to join them. But typically afterwards, people tend to feel ashamed of themselves and feel like they didn’t set a very good example. When people come to see us, they tend to phone us after something really bad happens. They don’t take care of themselves, and something stressful happens, and things have built up over time.”

Q. People are afraid either you’re angry, or you’re a doormat. How do you get past that?

A. “Almost everybody that comes our way – and we see at least 400 or 500 people a year – comes to us, and they’ve gone back and forth between those. They’re the nicest people, and it built up over time. The emotions are very physical in us. We are holding that tension. The emotions will express themselves in one way or another; either intentionally, with our awareness, or unintentionally, in injury or illness or what have you.”