When the opportunity came to attend one of Mike Fisher's British Association of Anger Management (BAAM) weekend courses, I grabbed it with both two hands.
I'll be totally honest with you. I've been in a relationship for eleven years now and since having kids, its fair to say that I've been angry everyday since. Don't get me wrong, I love my partner and I love our kids. As is the case in many relationships, its not an issue of love, sex or attraction, but rather how couples react to anger and disappointment, which dictates whether they live in joyful bliss or abstract misery.
We get on like a house-on-fire when the kids are at school. When its peaceful and quiet, we love each other as friends should, but come breakfast, lunch, dinner, bath time and bed time, we're stressed out and getting angrier by the minute; and more often than not, we end up bickering like brother and sister.
And that is exactly what Mike Fisher touches upon during his course. He got us to think of the last time we were at boiling point, and then stopped us and asked how old we were feeling at that precise moment. We all confessed to feeling as if we were kids again. Seven years old being shouted at by mum, feeling ashamed and scared, nine years old and having a fight with our sister or ten years old and on the verge of tears while dad shouts in your face over a minor misdemeanour. Its true, we all revert back to being kids when we get angry with each other; we “regress” as Mike would say.
So I jumped at the chance of attending Mike Fisher's anger management course because my anger was ruining my relationship and scaring my kids. Something, meaning me, had to change.
Don't take things personally.
I've lost count how many times my partner said something to me which I've assumed to mean something completely different? All of a sudden my back is up and I'm in defensive mode. Without double checking exactly what she meant, I'm assuming the worst. As a consequence, she takes it personally and all of a sudden the Cold War is in full swing and we've put up our Berlin Walls to protect ourselves.
This is just the start; without Mike's help I would have escalated the situation by launching into a verbal assault of anger and fury. Name-calling is always easy, recollecting past offences always fuels the fire, so does swearing, slamming things, throwing things and punching things. More often than not physical violence ends the battle but prolongs the suffering for the couples and their families. Of-course the battle wounds last forever especially for the kids.
Mike reminds us to 'don't take anything personally' but its hard when the person we are meant to love says such cruel and heartless things to us. But what we have to remember is that everything said during the red mist of anger, is only spoken until enough rage and fury has built up to force them out.
Mike would talk about our primary needs, that we all need to be valued, appreciated, safe, acknowledged, held, trusted and loved. We look at our partners to provide these 'needs', and when they aren't met we get angry and scared.
So what does Mike say about getting what you need from your partner?
Its about “Expressing your anger cleanly” he'd say, and recommend the clearing technique which I've used on many occasions to control my anger.
Here is a quick version of The Clearing Progress to help you. Make sure you know the facts relating to the conflict, assume nothing and don't take things personally!
Fill in your own words as you say....
I feel..... angry with you.
Because..... I have asked you ten times to clean out your hairs from the plug hole!
When..... my mum and dad had argument about this I felt really scared and confused.
What I want is..... when I ask you to do something and you say yes, please do it!
What I am willing to own about my behaviour is..... often I do not follow through on commitment that I make.
Words of Wisdom.
I'll leave you with some words of wisdom as told by an ancient Indian sage.
A question was asked, "When people are angry, why do they shout at each other?"
“Because when we lose our calm, we shout," came an answer.
"Granted," said the sage, "but, why should you raise your voice when the other person is just next to you? It's not that he's hearing you better that way. You can still make your point without shouting at the top of your voice.
Anger immediately creates a distance. When two people are angry at each other, their hearts are no longer close, their emotions are divided and they go miles apart. To cover that distance they yell. The angrier they are, the louder they shout. They are no longer in mode of love, of acceptance, of proximity. They are unable to hear each other, shouting is how they believe they can be heard.
And! what happens when two people fall in love? They don't shout at each other but talk softly, they almost whisper, because their hearts are very close. There's little or no distance between them.
When they love each other even more, they exchange even less words, more softly, they murmur, they whisper, yet they hear each other better, their bond strengthens, their love prospers. Finally, they may not even whisper, they only look at each other, silence becomes more potent than speech, that's how close two people can get when they are in love.”
Mike Fisher's anger management workshop saved my relationship by teaching me to understand my anger and to deal with it in a way I never knew possible.