In the last post we looked at anger and saw that it is a normal part of the cancer roller coaster. We’re now going to look at ways we can help a friend or family member that is riding that roller coaster, cope with their anger.
We saw the need to help your friend recognise their anger, and identify the fear, frustration or hurt behind that emotion. Realize that it’s not easy for them to admit to fear, or to share their deepest hurts or frustrations. So take it slowly. Once your loved one realizes you understand, he’ll find it easier to explore his hidden feelings. He’ll see that you’re not going to walk out on him. That opens the door for you to discuss how he is feeling, and why.
You will be able to help him deal with the situation. Feeling free to share their deepest thoughts and fears with someone who accepts them as they are, is not only healing. It will encourage them to cope. Here is a list of ways that may help your loved one to cope with their anger. Go through it with him, and discuss each point. And if he gets angry with you? It’s all part of the ride!
Identify the anger. Accept that it will happen. Sometimes it’s easy to identify, like when you yell at the kids. Sometimes it’s not so easy to recognize. But watch out for it. When you find yourself harboring negative emotions or resenting something someone’s done, ask yourself the question, “Am I angry?”
Don’t use your anger to hide other feelings. Sometimes we use anger like a mask, disguising other painful feelings such as despair or “What’s the use?”
Don’t store up your anger. As soon as you recognize you’re angry, find a safe way to express your feelings. Anger can be likened to the gas in a fizzy drink bottle. If you shake it up long enough, when it finally finds a way to escape it will spew out uncontrollably, effecting all those close by.
Try not to take your anger out on others. Cancer is not their fault. By lashing out at them in anger, you may well drive them away from you at a time when you need their support so badly. Direct your anger at the root cause, not at people.
Look for safe ways to express your anger, and share them with your family and close friends. They can help you to put these into practice when they see you are getting angry.
Dissipate the anger with calming therapies, such as relaxation techniques, visualization exercises, music or art therapy.
Discuss the reasons for your anger with someone you can trust and whom you know won’t judge you. This might even need to be a professional counsellor.
Allow anger to have its way while doing a physical activity. Thump a boxing bag. Dig in the garden. Beat a rug. Crack a bat against a swing ball. Punch your pillow.
Anticipate your anger, and deal with it before it happens.You can do this by following through on a number of suggestions in this list.
Go for a short drive to a quiet place (if you’re not in a rage of course). Or find somewhere that no one can hear you. Then yell out at the top of your voice. If you live near mountains, there’s something very satisfying in hearing an echo come back.
Journal. Write whenever you feel angry. Lash at the people or situations on paper, rather than in ways that will damage relationships. Make sure they never get to read your journal! Write when things happen that have the potential to make you angry. Try writing poetry or describe beautiful things that will lift your spirits and help to prevent anger developing.
Join a support group or link up with a counselor trained in anger management. Learn ways from the professionals on how to avoid destructive responses and learn new coping skills.
Think of ways to have fun. It’s very difficult to be angry when you’re having fun. Do you have any other suggestions?
Go through the list slowly with them, and try to get some feedback. Perhaps there is on or maybe two actions they would like to try. But don’t force them!