‘Cool off’, men urged at anger management conference

Guyanese men were on Friday urged to control and change the manner in which they react to stressful situations, as several groups contemplate a way forward in changing the culture of violence and abuse in the home.

Public support group MEN (Men Empowe-rment Network) hosted a meeting with over 100 men from the religions, private and public sector; and cultural and entertainment groups, where matters relating to the theme of the conference ’Changing the culture of abuse and violence’ with particular emphasis on anger management, were discussed. The conference was held at the Pegasus Hotel in Kingston and comes in the wake of a year of horrendous acts of violence by men against women.

While delivering the feature address at the one-day forum, Human Services Minister, Priya Manickchand called for more work to be carried out by the service providers such as the police and the courts, in ensuring that pieces of legislation passed by Parliament bear fruit. Such legislation, she noted, is aimed at reducing violent and abusive situations within the home and ensure these are kept to a minimum. Pending before the National Assembly is the Sexual Offences Bill, which the minister stated, will revolutionize the laws currently in place for situations involving relatives.

Manickchand touched on the recent audio-recording which allegedly features Information Liaison to the President, Kwame McCoy, stating that the recording is an allegation which has not been proven. She added that the issue was politicized and persons should concentrate on rallying behind the legislation to see what can be done to protect children involved in such situations, since she noted, if such a matter is reported to the police, “not much can be done “.

Church leader Timothy King, whose spirited presentation on anger management generated interest from members of the audience including Minister within the Ministry of Health Bheri Ramsaran and Mines Commissioner William Woolford, highlighted the effects of anger on family life, its presence within relationships and measures which can be implemented to assist in solving violent situations.

Speaking about his personal experiences, King stated that a father and child relationship could get out of hand as the child grows from the baby stage, with  the  parent (father  in his situation) becoming incapable of addressing his personal anger levels as the child begins to get  hyperactive, as any child would. He said that within a period of time, his anger control level got the better of him and he soon managed to address the issue after realizing the reasons and more importantly, solutions which can be adopted in dealing with one’s anger.

King articulated that anger is an emotional state which can be purposeful and beneficial to the family if used in a healthy way. He emphasized that fits of anger are always preceded by another emotional state.

As an example, the church leader said, when one receives some bad news, he/she reacts with disappointment before being elevated to the anger stage. He listed various anger “styles” giving a vivid description of the various “styles” men adopt when expressing their anger within a situation. Among the “styles” listed by King was an individual becoming angry after losing at a game or within a situation, to earn pity and sympathy from the other party/parties; or in another situation, a man venting his anger within the home in order to instill some degree of “control” over his paramour.

The church leader said that anger is not only confined to the home, stating that it can also be the result of external situations. He said one can become angry because of an event which occurred at the workplace or on the road; a driver being angry at the pedestrian who crossed the road without looking for the ‘green man’. He also stated that in its internal state, one may become angry when historical events act as a trigger, forcing someone to react within a situation as he/she recalls similar situations which occurred in the past, as in a young man who grew up with a violent parent.
Mind work

King spoke of three ways in which anger is usually exuded by an individual; expressive, suppressive and calming. He explained that in the case of anger being expressed in a suppressive manner, the individual would normally leave the situation which caused him/her to become angry moving to another environment in order to “cool off”. He noted, however, such situations would require the individual to do “a lot of mind work”.

The church leader, speaking on measures that could be put in place to deal with violent situations, said that improved communication is one of the proven methods which can be adopted. He said angry people tend to misunderstand situations and advised that one should slow down and think clearly following such an angry situation.

In the case of a relationship where the man tends to point his finger at his paramour when angry situations arise, instead of blurting out “you always”, he should think along the lines of “…I would like…” King stated that in this case, the individual should consider the things he/she would like to see occurring in the relationship which would bring about a change. He also said that one should attempt to have his/her anger levels confined to a minimum, and that he/she should be able to reach out to another person and assist him/her in “turning off” that person’s anger levels.

In the final analysis, the church leader said, a competent model which can be adopted in the course of anger management starts with an acronym of the subject matter, ANGER. These being: A-affirm the relationship, N-navigate a way forward, G-guard the violence levels, E-elevate discussions(solving methods) from an emotional to an intellectual state, and R-regenerate the terms of the relationship.

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