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RANDOM THOUGHTS | Managing anxiety and rage

“THIS book is a guide to make sense of the senselessness. As a psychologist, and for the last decade as a journalist for the New York Times, I have been tracking the progress of our scientific understanding of the realm of the irrational. From that perch I have been struck by two opposing trends, one portraying a growing calamity in our shared emotional life, the other offering some hopeful remedies” (Daniel Coleman, “Emotional Intelligence”, 1996).

The #1 bestseller of Coleman mentioned above is indeed a must reading for young and old generations. It comprehensively explains why Emotional Quotient (EQ) may matter more than Intelligence Quotient (IQ) especially in this growing stressful world. 

“Emotion” is defined by Webster, as “strong generalized feeling”. “Quotient” is defined by him as “quality”. Intelligence” per Webster, is “mental ability”. Anxiety and rage are two of the negative emotions that we must effectively manage to avoid their destructive effects.

Anxiety means “a state of being uneasy or worried or fearful about what may happen”. An anxious person is a worried or afraid person. That is why our Lord Jesus admonishes us, “not to be afraid.” 

Hence, the surest way to effectively manage anxiety is to fully trust God. This means placing our anxiety in the hands of God and strongly believing that whatever happens, it is God`s will and therefore good. Of course, we have also to do our part in this regard. “Nasa Diyos ang awa, nasa tao ang gawa.” It will help if we become optimists rather than pessimists. Back to Goleman`s commentary on anxiety: “Anxiety – the distress evoked by life pressures – is perhaps the emotion with the greatest weight of scientific evidence connecting it to the onset of sickness and course of recovery. When anxiety helps us prepare to deal with some danger (A presumed utility in evolution) then it has served us well. 

 

But in modern life anxiety is more often out of proportion and out of place – distress comes in the face of situations that we must live with or that are conjured by the mind, not real dangers we need to confront. Repeated bouts of anxiety signal high level of stress.”

Repeated anxiety could lead to depression. We strongly advise our readers to immediately consult a psychiatrist if you are attacked by depression. Some of the symptoms of depression are: sleeplessness or insomnia, loss of appetite leading to loss of weight, restlessness and extreme sadness. Depression is curable if medically attended to soonest. Rage is a “furious uncontrolled anger” which could lead to violent action.

Coleman pointed out: “Of all the moods that people want to escape, rage seems to be the most intransigent… The self-righteous inner monologue that propels it along fills the mind with the most convincing arguments for venting rage.” Clearly, one potent way to prevent rage is to effectively manage our anger which is the root of rage.

Coleman quoted psychologist Doll Zillman who explained: “The universal trigger for anger is the sense of being endangered. Endangerment can be signaled not just by an outsight physical threat but also, more often the case, by a symbols threat to self-esteem or dignity being treated unjustly. These perceptions act as the instigating trigger for a limbic surge that has a dual effect on the brain.” In short, we control anger and we control rage.

Let us again hear Coleman`s expert opinion on this complex and difficult subject matter:

“Beyond this possibility looms a pressing moral imperative.”

These are times when the fabric of society seems to unravel at ever-greater speed, when selfishness, violence, and a meanness of spirit seem to be rotting the goodness of our communal lives. Here the argument for the importance of emotional intelligence hinges on the link between sentiment, character, and moral instinct. 

There is growing evidence that fundamental ethical stances in life stem from underlying emotional capabilities. For one impulse is the medium of emotion, the seed of all impulse is a feeling bursting to express itself in action. Those who are at the mercy of impulse – who lack self – control – suffer a moral deficiency: the ability to control impulse is the base of will and character. By the same token, the root of altruism lies in empathy, the ability to read emotions in others, lacking a sense of another`s need or despair, there is no caring. And if there are two moral stances that our times call for, they are precisely these, self-restraint and compassion.

Hopefully this article will serve as a guide in our capability to effectively manage anxiety and rage for the sake of mental health in this pandemic COVID-19 crisis.

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