Men Are Killing Themselves
On April 22, 2002, an amazing study done at Johns Hopkins University was published on young men and anger (Archives of Internal Medicine 2002; 162: 901-906).
The study followed 1,055 men for an average of 36 years following their schooling to examine the risk of premature and total cardiovascular disease associated with anger responses to stress during early adult life.
The incredible results of this study were that young men who quickly react to stress with anger have three times the normal risk of developing premature heart disease. Also, these men were five times more likely than men who were calmer to have an early heart attack even if they didn't have a family history of heart disease!
While it has been clear for a long time that anger damages relationships, the health problems associated with anger have never been made as clear. Anger not only hurts your relationships, it kills you!
Anger damages relationships more than any other single factor. It hurts people and creates mistrust. It causes your own children to fear you. And it perpetuates a way of being that's a lie.
It's a lie because there are many emotions floating around under your anger that are never discovered as long as the anger hides them. There's a part of you that remains a mystery to you and to the world because it never sees the light of day.
And while there is some information for men on managing their anger, not many men seem to access it.
In fact, it tends to remain a very private matter for many men. A sense of failure and shame surrounds men who struggle with their temper. These feelings keep this a private matter, causing the cycle to stay the same or worsen.
And the simple truth about men improving their anger is that it's a matter of choice. You no longer need to accept the notion that you've "got a temper," and that's the "way it is."
Here are some options for men seeking to improve themselves:
- You are the only one who can make you angry. Accept this responsibility and you've a come a long way towards getting better.
- Write down the irrational thinking that contributes to your anger (people should always treat me kindly, etc.). Ask yourself where you developed this thinking and give yourself some alternative thoughts that are more productive.
- Become more aware of tuning into your body when you begin to become angry. Deep diaphragmatic breathing is a great way to do this. The ideas is to focus on you, not the "target" of the anger.
- Prepare yourself before a stressful situation and "practice" your new, calmer response to it. Be aware that it might take some time to feel comfortable with this new response.
- Find the stressors in your life that might be contributing to your angerdo what you can to reduce these stressors and add some self-care into your life.
When we talk about health hazards for men, we may need to include anger alongside fast food and a lack of exercise among factors that can shorten men's lives.
Managing your anger is a learnable skill, and it benefits everyone around you.
More importantly, it may save your life.
Mark Brandenburg MA, CPCC, coaches men to be better fathers and husbands. He is the author of the ecourse, "Ten Steps to Managing Anger for Men." Sign up for his FREE bi-weekly newsletter,"Dads, Don't Fix Your Kids," at http://www.markbrandenburg.com.