Last week, I attended an annual convention for psychologists in Cebu. It was extra special for me because I was one of those who took oath as a specialist psychologist. The night before, I busily prepared my things and set my alarm clock very early in the morning to catch the earliest fastcraft bound for Cebu.
As I lined up to get my seat number, a voice from the PA system announced that trips were cancelled due to rough seas! Arggh. Is this for real? I was very disappointed and started to grumble at no one in particular. The next possible trip was via a slow boat which departs at 12 noon and arrives in Cebu at around 5 pm. With that, I would have virtually missed everything for the day.
I decided to take the Tubigon route and hoped to reach Cebu by noon time and catch up whatever was left for the day. Thank God I did but really felt groggy and exhausted. When I arrived at the venue, I went to the secretariat and looked for my name among the preregistered participants. They made me wait for a while since the in-charge was not yet there. After a few minutes, they gave me an incomplete convention kit and deferred my official receipt. But I was just glad my day was saved.
On the second day, I went to the secretariat again to ask for my receipt, other things included in the kit, and my specialist ID. They asked me to come back again because â€œthe in-charge is not yet here.â€ In the afternoon, I again made a follow-up but I got the same answer.
On the third day, the last day of the convention, I went to the same secretariat to claim for my receipt, kit, and ID. I started to boil inside when the attendant seemed to neglect me and attended on others. When I spoke again, I felt my voice starting to tremble and felt my blood rushed up when she could not find my ID and asked me to wait again for the in-charge.
That was when I flared up and in a raised voice I said, â€œWhat have you been doing? Do I have to wait here forever just to get my ID?â€ And I stood there really livid as one attendant led me to a room where I was explained everything. What a way to end my convention!
What happened to me is not unfamiliar to many of us. We all have our moments when the emotion of anger overtook us and made us say and do things that we may have regretted after because it hurt someone both physically and emotionally. Anger, being an intense emotion, needs to be understood and managed because itâ€™s difficult to control when left on its own.
We need to understand that anger as an emotion is not in any case good or bad. Like any emotion, it only becomes harmful when its expression is not handled well. It is also impossible to avoid anger or suppress it all the time because as an emotion carrying intense energy, it will always find a way to be released in some other forms which could be equally dangerous to us and others as well. Moreover, when we do not express our anger, it may send the wrong message to people that we can be all out tolerant and lead them to abuse us.
But the â€œventingâ€ of anger (e.g. beating pillows, shouting it out, etc.), without understanding its roots and transforming it is not healthy also. It may simply push the anger closer to the surface and in fact leave the angry person more susceptible to express anger later in ways that are dangerous to himself and others.
Chronic, out-of-control anger affects all areas of our life. First, it hurts our physical health by way of stress. Being angry always is stressful and we all know how constant tension predisposes us to a myriad of illnesses and diseases. Second, it affects our mental health. Anger consumes large amount of mental energy that leaves us unable to think well and concentrate, which may lead to depression and other mental health problems. Third, anger could hurt our careers. If we are always angry, it will alienate us from our colleagues and it is also not very good to our reputation. Lastly, and most important of all, it can damage our most cherished relationships and leave scars in the people we love. If you are a parent, explosive anger is most especially damaging to the children.
So, what now? I will leave the rest of our discussion for the next issue. Let it suffice that our anger is here to stay and is a significant repertoire of our emotions. For now, when we feel angry, we can take a deep breath, or take a time out, and let the emotion subside before we do anything. How we work with angerâ€™s dynamics, I will share with you next week. (By Kit Nemenzo Balane)
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