Anger about prostate cancer?

Express it in healthy ways

Anger about prostate cancer is an emotion that should not be ignored; although many of us may try to. 

In their excellent book, A Woman’s Forbidden Emotion, Wright and Oliver write that this strong emotion has a message for us and it’s there for reason.

If we ignore anger, it can lead to other problems, including:

In fact, women who repress their angry feelings are more likely to have heart disease, according to a report in Psychosomatic Medicine.

Prostate cancer can make you angry

Whether your loved one has just been diagnosed with prostate cancer — or you are dealing with side effects following treatment — it's common to feel angry.

Wright and Oliver suggest that it’s better to accept your angry feelings than to try and repress them. The key is to find healthy ways of expression. 

For example:

  • Screaming in the car (when you’re driving alone!)
  • Punching your pillow
  • Vigorous exercise

All of the above are healthier ways to release your hostility than screaming at your loved one or other family members.

Sometimes it’s enough of a release when you simply state what’s making you mad without even raising your voice, such as saying: “I’m angry that you have prostate cancer and that we have to go through all this.”

What’s your style?

  • Do you like to scream and rage?
  • Do you usually look for someone or something to blame?
  • Are you able to express your anger calmly?
  • Do you shy away from it altogether?

Getting angry is not the problem.  How we release this emotion can cause all kinds of problems.

The ultimate goal is to be able to express your feelings in ways that will not hurt others or yourself.

Pause before reacting

When you feel your blood pressure starting to rise, take a deep breath and ask yourself: “What is bothering me?”

Once you’ve identified the “trigger” that's making you angry, you can then determine if there’s anything you can do to change your situation to make you feel better, or if you need to work on accepting it.

If the situation is something that can be changed, ask yourself: “What is the best way for me to respond?”

Think about what you need to say and how you can say it without yelling or screaming. You can write down your words and even rehearse them if you want to.

Very mad? Talk to a trusted friend before talking with the person you're angry with.

Words are forever

When harsh words are uttered in the heat of an argument they can never really be taken back, despite how many apologies we offer.

Wright and Oliver suggest that if you can learn to get angry without yelling, blaming, or attacking, not only will you feel better about yourself, but others will be more receptive to what you have to say.

The key is to be gently assertive.  State your feelings and needs calmly and firmly, but without attacking or putting anyone down or without being aggressive.

Change starts with awareness

Self-help books are wonderful tools to help you learn more about managing and expressing anger.

But if uncontrolled rage is disrupting your daily life, or preventing you from having the close relationships that you desire, you may want to consider seeking advice from a professional counselor or a licensed mental health professional.

Back to managing stress

References:

Matthews KA, Owens JF, Kuller LH, Sutton-Tyrrell K, Jansen-McWilliams L. Are hostility and anxiety associated with carotid atherosclerosis in healthy postmenopausal women? Psychosom Med 1998;60: 633-638.

Wright NH, Oliver GJ. A Woman’s Forbidden Emotion. Regal Books; Ventura, CA: 2005.

Always consult a medical professional.

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