Anger is easy but it's never the solution

All Black player Malakai Fekitoa has revealed he has anger management issues in a powerful declaration for a ...
All Black player Malakai Fekitoa has revealed he has anger management issues in a powerful declaration for a high-profile sports star Photo: Getty Images

Think about the last time you felt angry. Really angry, like when you lost it at your partner or child or, in my case, a poor bloke in yellow Lycra on a yellow bike.

It doesn't actually feel good at all, anger, when you really dig into the memory.

Yes, it's cathartic to get to say the words you want to say to another human being who you imagine has wronged you. But in the end the rush of adrenalin, the shaking hands, the lack of control, the damage done, are dangerous and, ultimately, pointless. The other person feels bad, you feel bad.

How many times a day do you let anger overtake reason?
How many times a day do you let anger overtake reason? Photo: Tina Haynes

My road rage moment

I'm shocking in traffic, I really am. I am a car nut, appreciate decent driving and find it very, very difficult to see why another human being can not judge correctly when it might be a good idea to enter a roundabout. I tend to say so out my window, withering sarcasm rather than full-blown swearing as my weapon of choice. It's just as bad.

So it was I found myself recently telling Yellow Lycra Bike Guy, through the passenger window, what I thought of both his sartorial choices and his kicking of my car door. My teenage daughter was in the front seat, wide-eyed. I think I used the words "an enormous banana" in relation to his natty bike suit.

"Gee, Dad, you sure told that guy!" she said nervously. "He freaked out!"

Taking control back

Instantly, I was struck by the terrible example I was setting, the stupidity of it, the danger of it. So it is now my personal pact to keep my commentary muttered and communicated only with aggressive eye-rolling.

The stats are wearingly familiar. In Australia, more than one woman a week is bashed to death by a partner or former partner. Anger is not the only element at play, but a lack of self control, an entitlement to resort to violence to make a point, and the simple difference in physicality of most men and women means it is most definitely part of the problem.

The confession

This morning my Twitter feed was buzzing with news as All Black Malakai Fekitoa chose to reveal his anger management problems to more than 173,000 Instagram followers.

Fekitoa embodies the passion of a warrior on the paddock, yet talks of the shame and regret he feels for things he may have said both on the field and through social media. He called his problem with anger "huge".

As an All Black, Fekitoa represents a massively influential worldwide brand. When he speaks, it reverberates through an engaged, primarily male audience, like a Haka around a stadium.

So, while it may have bemused his management, Fekitoa's revelation and apology is a big deal. And a great thing. It highlights anger as an issue men face every day in our lives.

Anger isn't the answer

We're told to be tough, to be men, to have muscles, to protect, sure. But none of these things have anything to do with losing your temper, bullying, belittling or getting physical.

Once, in a "discussion", my partner stopped me, mid-rant and said, "I'm out of this talk - you're angry, you're big, you're using words as weapons. Your voice is forceful. You're actually bullying me right now." I huffed and puffed and said I was a nice guy, hey, I didn't even yell, let alone go around breaking things.

But she was right. I was simply lashing out because I was angry, and nothing good was going to come from it.

So, I too, apologise to my partner, my daughter, and Enormous Banana Bike Man. Maybe all those of us who have ever given in to our anger should, too.

That would make the world a little better for us all.

How do you deal with your anger? Could you do better? Tell us your experiences in the comments section.

With more than 25 years in Australian media, Phil Barker has edited NW and Woman's Day magazines, and published such titles as Vogue, GQ, Delicious, InsideOut and Donna Hay. He is owner of a creative events and activations agency and is a regular commentator on the life and style of Australian men.

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