My son and I were at the local market when and I heard a
toddler crying very loud on the next aisle. I left my son
with the cart and went to see... Well, there was a lady
comparing the price of two items AND a 3 or 4 year old boy
kicking the shopping cart and screaming "I want that toy,
I want that toy NOW !!!"
I rushed back to my son and said something like:
"Somebody is taking over." Of course... I meant the kid over
his mom. "That kid will definitely have major issues with
self -control when he grows up," --I added. You see, I
am not a psychologist by trade but in 61½ years I've had a
great deal of anger related experiences; both with family
and friends... to the point that I have created a need to
understand anger, oppression and even death....
I have studied these subjects and that has allowed me to
keep my sanity and my life. What I share here is not a
professional array but personal and voluntary. Anger is a
normal, usually healthy human emotion, but when it is out of
control it can become destructive, causing problems both in
personal and working life... it can even cause death: yours
or that of others.
Excessive and out of control anger can
cause feelings of fear, unpredictable behavior and loss of
I remember seeing men in Puerto Rican bars suddenly explode with anger, rip
their shirts off and go duke it out in the street. But, why rip your shirt off?
The effect of anger on those around you can be one of worry and fear and a
gradual withdrawal from interaction with you, or one of responding angrily.
turn, this of course will lead ultimately to conflict and aggression.
Hard Core Anger Management
Fair or not, because we suffer some social stigma we have to work harder
at being accepted. The goal of anger management is to reduce both the emotional
and physiological feelings that may be caused by anger, by recognizing who we
are and what makes us uncomfortable. It is not about changing the events or
people that cause the anger but is about changing your emotional and physical
responses to them.
Most Puerto Ricans are very assertive, that which can be construed as
threatening... be it passive or active. We get closer to a person when we talk
and that could be intrusive to some ethnic groups. Some will withdraw a bit and
we can take that as "rejection" that triggers a degree of unaceptance that feeds
There are various psychometric tests and questionnaires that can ascertain your
anger levels, but it is likely that if you are experiencing problems with anger
that you are already aware of that fact. When a Boricua is angry, boy... he
knows he's angry and he'll let you know... whew! So, if you find that your
behavior is out of control you may need help in finding a different way of
dealing with this particular emotion. The world has gotten too complex and we
don't need additional complications, regardless of how tough we think we are.
Some say that when people don't feel comfortable, they choose to belittle,
malign or somehow make someone else feel 'smaller', and those who are belittled
become the belittlers in the long run. It's a cycle.
WE don't wanna go there!
Anger and Aggression
you noticed that when babies are put together they play for a while and then
want to dish out their own blows indiscriminately? Adults in contrast, choose
their actions... and at times we choose that which is not socially sound... sort
of "being peed upon so have to pee on others... The contempt for the world has
bred a destructive attitude.
Commonly overlooked, contempt for the world (to hell with everybody) around us has a
way to disguise itself in such a way that it's virtually undetected. It projects
as an expression of anger and hostility.
"In a larger context we continually judge ourselves
and others. This judgment of others is of course relative to the way we
perceive ourselves. The bottom line is, we need to feel that our lives have
meaning. If we don't feel our lives have meaning then we get angry and its
vented by dragging others down. (Phoenix)
Not everybody is a tower of strength to move on after they
have been wronged. There are many who take the hurt very deeply to the point of
suicide or murder... How can we help that?
Anger & Self Esteem
Most of the Puerto Ricans I know in Los Angeles and Boston appear to be
intelligent and in some apparent control of themselves. They are good "social
butterflies" and cordial at most times. You can't tell if they are suppressing an
unmanaged emotion. If they're angry, they do a good job covering it up. However,
when their immediate reality is jeopardized, things turn into a different color.
Angry people live in an all too vulnerable "Here & Now" constantly looking
around with the corner of the eye, to make sure they are not threatened. Some
will only attend rehabs if they have a loved one or a "3rd party" (like court)
who'd push them to go. They hate rehabs until they attend. Then they love it!
Incidentally... you can take a horse to water and make him drink if you put salt
on his mouth.
"It all has to do with self-esteem and control. A
person of high self-esteem feels good about himself, irrespective of the
people around him. He does not have to control others in order to maintain the
good feelings about himself. His basic self-evaluation is internal, and is not
modified to any great extent by the things that happen around him. A person
with a poor self image will attempt to deal with his feelings of insecurity by
feeling better than other people, by belittling and controlling others... THRU
"This gives him the ILLUSION of competence and power, which he sorely lacks.
Because the illusion is so fleeting, he constantly needs to reinforce it by
denigrating others. Think about prejudice. A person of high self-esteem meets
each new person with good will and cordiality. He is not intimidated by people
who are smarter, or handsomer or richer than him. He is happy within himself."
"Uncontrolled anger reflects how easy a person with poor self-esteem is
prejudiced. He can, in one fell swoop, automatically feel better than an
entire group of people. The rapist is not enjoying sex. He gains his (false
illusion of) self esteem through the control of another person. The control
that the sadist has over his victim is one of the ultimate expressions of this
Moreover, most angry people have the illusion of
self-esteem but no control, since the welfare of others is alien to them. Love
for the welfare of others HAS TO BE the catalyst.
In my illustration of babies, it can be concluded that it is our innate (a
natural instinct that you're born with) and sometimes subconscious desire to
subjugate others, whether it be in a subtle or angry way. Thus, you will oppress
others on a given chance, whether it gives you pleasure or not. That "need" to
oppress is neither genetic nor biological, that
can be excused by a glandular
malfunction... e.g., the hypothalamus is too small or the thyroid is too low.
It's a choice that’s is made.
Some psychologists do use that to excuse aberrant behavior of sex offenders or
other criminals. "He releases too much serotonin, etc." But even in our
vulnerable condition we have the ability to make choices. That ability is the
one that dictates our destiny. Be angry if you must, but do not hurt others or
Simple relaxation tools, such as deep breathing and relaxing imagery, can help
calm down angry feelings. There are books and courses that can teach you
relaxation techniques, and once you learn the techniques, you can call upon them
in any situation. If you are involved in a relationship where both partners are
hot-tempered, it might be a good idea for both of you to learn these techniques.
Some simple ideas you can try:
Breathe deeply, from your diaphragm; breathing from your chest
won't relax you. Picture your breath coming up from your "gut."
Slowly repeat a calm word or phrase such as "Mama," "cocoliso"
or "wepa." Repeat it to yourself while breathing deeply.
Use imagery; visualize a relaxing experience, from either your
memory or your imagination.
Nonstrenuous, slow yoga-like exercises can relax your muscles
and make you feel much calmer.
Practice these techniques daily. Learn to use them automatically when you're
in a tense situation... They work... for me!
Anger is like a trap that binds you and
you can't be free until you chill out. Totally... from within.
Use Methods that Work
Writing from experience, I believe that trying to get people to work together is
a very difficult task. Having to get some Puerto Rican people to work together
is a monumental task. Why do I think so??
Simply, the complex cultural background and disturbed historical strata that we
share, affects how we behave in a daily basis. It also, has some bearing in how
and why some of us think and act the way we do... even in a subconscious level.
Case in point: As a Puerto Rican who volunteers in various projects in Los
Angeles, where mostly other Boricuas work, I find that for the most part, no one
wants to be told what to do, especially when they are not getting paid for it.
Everybody wants to do what is right in his or her own eyes. Even when presented
with a more expedient way to do a task, many times we refuse to accept it... at
least at first. We want to think of that more excellent way ourselves. We want
the credit and recognition. We want to be important. If we don’t get that
satisfaction, look out, folks… because here comes trouble!!!
Once you throw the first blow anger has conquered you
In a cooperative, not all can be chiefs. Logic, combined with a spirit of
fellowship and cooperation, should rule any decision making process. Allow me to
equate LOGIC with COMMON SENSE... synonymous with “that which fits the best”.
The other day some lady stormed out of a volunteer office after she decided that
all the rest of the volunteers with which she had been working for the fast
eleven months, were “all trash”. I learned later that she had heated arguments
with almost all the volunteers, insulted the project manager, and she had been
visiting and getting “insight” with another lady who had quit for similar
reasons months earlier.
Us Puerto Ricans use a dynamic word that I love… it conveys the idea of taking a
long strand of cord and making a ball that it’s so intertwined that it is
impossible to undo. That word is “BOCHINCHE”. The word implies way much more
than mere gossip, it actually seeks to destroy harmony. The spirit of the
bochinchero/a will not abide by any rules of harmony and fair play. These people
thrive in creating discord among their peers and rejoice when the “poo has hit
"Anger he smiles, towering in
shiny metallic purple armour
Queen jealousy, envy waits behind him
Her fiery green gown sneers at the grassy ground...
Blue are the life-giving waters taken for granted,
They quietly understand
once happy turquoise armies lay opposite ready, but wonder why the fight is on."
---Jimi Hendrix (Axis: Bold as Love)
"Fools won't take advice, but
smart will listen." (Proverbs 12:15)