Keeping Cool under Pressure


Anger Management with Sarah Maamoun

By Hilary Diack

We have all been there. Blood pressure rocketing. Feeling hot under the collar. Clenching our teeth. The signs that something is getting you all riled up. Just how harmful is anger, and how can we deal with it? Cairo East Magazine addressed the subject with life coach Sarah Maamoun.

CEM: What are the various forms of ‘anger’ that we experience?

SM: It boils down to three things, these are key in any situation where anger arises, whether it is domestic, work-related or in a close emotional relationship. First, we get upset because our needs are not being met. Secondly, we want to blame someone else for what we don’t want, or what we are not receiving. The third point is when we feel the urge to speak or act in a way that does not foster our best interests. Anger is a wake-up call that indicates something is awry in these areas.

We must consider that every human has five basic needs: Autonomy, appreciation, attention, acknowledgement and affection. And of course, respect. These evolve at stages of our life, as part of the maturing process. Frustration inevitably arises when we do not have these important needs met. Interestingly, studies have shown that it is men who most commonly complain about being misunderstood.

What are typical situations that can trigger an attack of anger?

Usually it will be situations that involve hurt or fear. A person may feel that they have been wronged, or hurt by someone. It should be noted that often hurtful behaviour is instigated by people who have been hurt themselves, thus creating a negative cycle.

Fear can cover many areas; fear of rejection, possible divorce, loss of security, challenges to financial and social position. This can build up a resentment that expresses itself in either a passive/aggressive or directly aggressive way.

Why do some people have more trouble controlling their temper than others?

People who have an easier time of controlling their temper are generally more mature and  self-actualized, and more in tune with their needs and feelings.  They can empathize more with others’ behaviour, a lot of it comes with life experience.

What are the best ways of defusing a potentially aggressive or confrontational interaction?

Find a place of consciousness. In addition to connecting to what we feel we must try to understand what the other person needs or feels. This is where empathy comes into play. Don’t repress anger, try to transform it into positive communication. See the other person’s point of view, put yourself in their shoes. Communicate respectfully.

How can we cope with ‘road rage’ and other negative social situations?

Again, take a deep breath. Identify our judgmental thoughts, connect with what our needs are. Don’t deflect your anger onto others. Be aware of your physical state. Yoga breathing has proved to be helpful, it can calm and give focus. Use your senses to de-stress, find out what calms you. Playing music may help.

How can we raise our kids to avoid temper tantrums when they don’t get their own way?

Take a deep breath! Teach them emotional intelligence, how to recognize their feelings, but keep it in terms they can understand. They should learn to connect with and understand their needs and feelings and how to communicate them effectively. Learn how to calm them by being in touch with their senses.

How potentially harmful is it when we try to supress our anger? What are good ways to get it out of our system?

Trying to stop aggressive behavior without addressing the reasons for it can send a person into a depressive state. This is common with men who don’t want to be perceived as bullies or monsters.  They must learn to open up and communicate, and work on their self-understanding. Pent-up anger can be eased through burning it off in a physical activity that we enjoy. Dancing, a good work-out, or a long walk. Getting in touch with nature and ourselves is a great way to put things back into perspective.

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