“What is it about me that you hate so much?” a man asked his wife six months into his sobriety. “Everything!” she replied with a glare.”–Anonymous Quote

CAN former Philippine President Rodrigo “Digong” Duterte and ally-turned-nemesis President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. deal with anger?

The answer is obvious. They can’t. They refuse. They weren’t taught how to deal with it?

Their anger, already at fever pitch based on heavy swapping of charges of illegal substance addiction, is a manifestation they have been swallowed by mankind’s most destructive emotion. 

And because they are in the field of politics, the civilized world’s dirtiest battlefield, they are expected to throw more mud at each other in the next weeks, month, and even years to come before the next presidential election, where Duterte’s daughter, Vice President Sara Carpio-Duterte, is rumored to tangle versus Mr. Marcos’ first cousin, House Speaker Ferdinand Martin Romualdez.

In her book, Codependent No More: How to stop controlling others and start caring for yourself, Melody Beattie describes anger as “may be a commonplace emotion, but it is tough to deal with.”

Most of us haven’t been taught how to deal with anger, because people show us how they deal with anger; they don’t teach us. And most people show us inappropriate ways to deal with anger because they’re not sure either, Beattie suggests.

According to her, people may give us good advice. 

“Be angry, but do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger.” “Don’t seek revenge.” Many of us can’t adhere to these mandates, she says. Some of us think they mean: “Don’t be angry.” Many of us aren’t sure what we believe about anger, adds Beattie. 

Some of us believe lies about anger.

She warns that repressed anger, like other repressed emotions, causes problems. 

“Sometimes our anger may leak out inappropriately,” she explains. “We scream at someone we didn’t intend to scream at. We wrinkle up our faces, curl our lips, and help people feel like they don’t want to be around us. We slam dishes around even though we can’t afford to break anything of material value because we’ve already lost so much.”


Other times our anger may show its face in different ways, reveals Beattie, who stresses: “We may find ourselves not wanting, unable, or refusing to enjoy sex. We may find ourselves unable to enjoy anything. Then we add more self-hatred to our already heaping pile by wondering what is wrong with us and going on our hostile way.”

When people ask us what’s wrong, we tighten our jaw and say, “Nothing. I feel just fine, thank you.” We may even start doing little sneaky mean things or big sneaky mean things to get even with those we’re angry at, she warns.

“If anger is repressed long enough, it will ultimately do more than leak out. Unpleasant feelings are like weeds. They don’t go away when we ignore them; they grow wild and take over. Our angry feelings may one day come roaring out. We say things we don’t mean. Or, as usually happens, we may say what we really mean,” Beattie observes.

“We may lose control and unleash ourselves in a fighting, spitting, screeching, hair-pulling, dish-breaking rage. Or we may do something to hurt ourselves. Or the anger may harden into bitterness, hatred, contempt, revulsion, or resentment.”

Beattie says “we have every right to feel anger. We have every right to feel as angry as we feel. So do other people. But we also have a responsibility–primarily to ourselves–to deal with our anger appropriately.”

Dealing with repressed emotions will not happen overnight. Dealing with a significant amount of repressed anger may take time and effort. Dealing with new anger takes practice, she counsels.


Beattie makes some suggestions for dealing with anger:

1. Address any myths we have subscribed to about anger. 

2. Feel the emotion.

3. Acknowledge the thoughts that accompany the feeling.

4. Examine the thinking that goes with the feeling.

5. Make a responsible decision about what, if any, action we need to take.

6. Don’t let anger control us.

7. Openly and honestly discuss our anger, when it’s appropriate.

8. Take responsibility for our anger.

9. Talk to people we trust.

10. Burn off the anger energy.

11. Don’t beat ourselves or others for feeling angry.

12. Write letters we don’t intend to send.

13. Deal with guilt.

Once we start dealing with anger, Beattie says we may notice we feel angry most of the time. “That’s common,” he explains. “We’re like kids with a new toy. We’ll settle down with it. Be patient. We aren’t going to deal with it perfectly. No one does. We’ll make mistakes, but we’ll also learn from them. The reason we’re told not to seek revenge is because getting even is a common response to anger. If we’ve done or do some inappropriate things, deal with earned guilt and go on from there. Strive for progress.”


She advises that “we need to be gentle with ourselves if we’ve been repressing loads of angry feelings. Things take time. We may need to be that angry for now. When we don’t need to be angry any more, we’ll quit feeling angry if we want to. If we think we might be stuck in anger, get professional help.”

Beattie continues: “Some people believe we never have to become angry; if we control our thinking and are appropriately detached; we will never react with or wallow around in anger. That’s probably true; however, I prefer to relax and see what happens, rather than guard myself rigidly.”

“I don’t believe that anger should become our focus in life, nor should we look for reasons to become angry to test ourselves. ‘It’s not good to be angry all the time,’ says counselor Esther Olson. It’s not healthy to act hostile. There is much more to life than anger. But it’s okay to feel anger when we need to.”

(The author, who is now based in New York City, used to be the editor of two daily newspapers in Iloilo.—Ed)