How do we get angry and can we manage the situation differently?

angryHow do we get angry and can we manage the situation differently?

In the previous article we have been talking about Racket anger and discussed what kind of feelings might be hidden behind it. Here I am going to talk about how do we get angry.
When we get angry, we might express our anger there and then, or we might choose to store it away for use later. In this case, in Transactional Analysis terminology, we are said to be saving a stamp.

For example: you come home late from work and find your partner already there. You ask him to help with dinner, but he is reluctant to do so as usually it is your task. You express your disappointment and maybe even have an argument, but at least your partner now knows where you stand and you feel that you have made your point. Or you can choose to say nothing, get on with making dinner and save a stamp for later.

At weekend, you ask your partner to take your daughter to her ballet lessons, because you are going to a work conference. He forgets and you come home to a disappointed child. You can choose to confront your partner and discuss the way you would like to share the childcare in the future. In that case you will explain your point of view and also allow your partner to do the same, coming to some sort of an agreement. Or you can choose to say nothing and just get on with your chores. You have saved another stamp.

A month later you are about to go to London for a night out with your friends. It was planned months ahead and your partner agreed to babysit. On Friday morning he announces that he has a work commitment and has to be in the office all day Saturday. If you have already saved several stamps, you are likely to explode and tell him to pack his bags, that you can’t live in this kind of relationship any longer and you have had enough.

Some people prefer to cash their stamps frequently, for a small argument, whilst other people prefer to save lots of stamps and finally cash them in for a really big prize – a hart attack or a violent fight.

Next time you are about to save a stamp, you might choose to stop and think. Resolving a small disagreement straightaway might prevent a massive problem arising at a later stage.

How authentic is your anger?


So you think you are an angry person, but are you really? Try this exercise:

Imagine that tomorrow is the beginning of a holiday period and all the shops are going to be shut for several days.
You have no food left in a house and have just enough time to run to the supermarket and stock up before the shop closes.
You quickly fill up your trolley and go to the tills. There are just a few minutes left before the closing time.
You get to the checkout desk, the person at the till enters your purchases on the cash-till and tells you the total cost.
You reach for your wallet and can’t find it. You search and search and it is not there. You remember now that you left it at home.
As the line is building up behind you, you ask the shop assistant if it would be ok to leave your name and address, take your shopping and bring money after the holidays. The shop assistant replies that it is not possible.
So you can’t take your goods home and there will be several days before the shops will re-open.
As you realize this – How do you feel?

If you will do this exercise in a group, you will notice that different people will report different feelings.
The feeling that you will report is the one you are experiencing quite often in all sorts of situations.
This feeling will also be the one that was “allowed” or encouraged in your family of origin.
The emotion you felt did nothing to help you find a solution to your problem.

These characteristics are typical of what Transactional Analysis calls The Racket Feeling.

The racket feeling is usually a substitute for an authentic feeling. For example, you might get angry when you are really sad. Feelings substitution is happening out of awareness, so you might not even notice what you are really experiencing.

So next time you get angry, you might try to stop and think for a moment – what are you really feeling? Could you find ways of expressing that real feeling (fear, sadness etc.) instead of getting angry? Becoming aware of your real feelings and finding ways of getting your needs met will help you manage your anger and use it in constructive rather than destructive ways.