Dealing with Anger
By B. Eddy
Madison’s mother was an angry person. She exploded over nothing, making Madison and her brothers fear her. The mother told them it was good for her to get her anger out, but the children took the brunt of it. Madison asked me for help. She found that she was getting angry at little things and seemed to follow in her mother’s footsteps. She did not like what she was becoming. She wanted to learn to control her anger.
Anger wears many faces. It may be explosive or smoldering or pushed down, only to erupt when we least expect it. It may show itself as passive aggression or sabotage.
Positive anger causes us to move forward and make needed changes either in our personal life or the world in general. For example, positive anger creates a motivation to save the dolphins.
Negative anger pushes people away, isolates us and creates destructive thinking. However, our purpose may be to push people away and isolate ourselves. If that is true, we need to find a more honest way to deal with life. Negative anger threatens our relationships and possibly our lives. It can raise blood pressure to the popping point. We may stay angry. We may act out our anger through aggression. Yes! Getting even feels good, but it rarely solves the problem.
WAYS TO DEAL WITH ANGER
COUNT TO 100. Anger is often a reaction. This delay gives you time to consider the importance of your situation and choose your response rationally. See Understand Your Human Rights, page 35. You may want to leave the room so you can cool off. If you stay, the other person may not let you count to one hundred and you will find yourself reacting again.
BREATHE. Take a deep breath. This helps you calm down. Now take another deep breath.
KEEP STRESS LEVELS LOW. When you are stressed to the max, it doesn’t take much to put you over the top. Do something physical. Walk, move, run, jog in place, or hit a pillow or punching bag. Release the energy in a non-aggressive way. Exercising daily helps prevent anger by reducing overall stress.
LOOK AT YOUR ANGER as a part of your intense feelings about life. These feelings may produce negative results. Consider everything in perspective. Look at the situation as an objective observer and not as a person who needs to judge everyone’s action.
DON’T TAKE EVERYTHING PERSONALLY. Often, the problem has nothing to do with you. The driver of the car that cut you off could care less about you. Consider the intelligence and competence of the driver and realize he would do the same thing to anyone. It is his problem, not yours. Life (or death) will catch up with him sooner or later.
KEEP YOUR SENSE OF HUMOR. Even when you don’t find that particular situation funny, becoming less defensive will help you not react so strongly.
TAKE FREQUENT BREAKS. Don’t work so intensely that you aren’t relaxed if something goes wrong. Relax before there is a problem. Even if you don’t like vacations, they serve a purpose. You don’t have to sit around on a vacation if you don’t want to. Do something you enjoy. Reward yourself.
BE AWARE OF YOUR HOT BUTTONS. People who know what buttons to push will push them. Work on making yourself less vulnerable to attack. See Defeat Button Pushers, page 37.
BE AWARE OF YOUR ANGER. Is there something you are not dealing with or trying to avoid? Anger may be an outward reaction to something deeper. Deal with the real issues and the anger will be easier to handle.
REMEMBER THAT WHATEVER YOU REACT TO CONTROLS YOU. Decide whom you want in control of your life.
“Any person capable of angering you becomes your master; he can anger you only when you permit yourself to be disturbed by him.”
― Epictetus (55-135 AD) Roman Philosopher (from Tom Hill 2005)
PICK YOUR FIGHTS. You will be more productive. Anger is exhausting. Save your energy.
PREPARE FOR A PROBLEM. When the same situation arises over and over again, consider alternatives to anger.
Example: “If my boss tells me to do George’s work again, I’m going to tell him that I have too much work to do now.” Decide how you will deal with the situation before it happens.
VENT THE ANGER BY TALKING TO SOMEONE ABOUT IT. Discuss your feelings as well as the injustice done to you. Choose people who care about you or people who can help you change things. Don’t overload co-workers or strangers. Don’t use a person merely for venting purposes. Don’t be someone who likes to complain. Have some interesting conversations, too. Talk about something other than yourself. See Develop A Support Group, page 46.
AVOID SABOTAGE TO GAIN CONTROL. It may work for a while, but nobody likes to be manipulated and sabotage will come back to bite you. You will be exposed.
STAY AWAY FROM OTHER ANGRY PEOPLE. They only provide fuel for your anger. They don’t solve anything.
SOLVE THE PROBLEM. Complaining about something without solving the problem does not help. Complaining might make you feel better for a while, but, until you deal with the situation, the anger will return. Decide if, when, and how you intend to fix the situation. If you need to confront someone, be assertive, not aggressive. Assertive people use “I” sentences, not “you” sentences.
Example: “I need more space,” not “You’re in my way.” Consider if you need to make serious changes in your life, such as finding a different job. Plan it. Do it. Madison learned from her mother that anger was acceptable. Now she understands that anger is destructive and that she can go through life without angry outbursts and without holding the anger inside. Deciding to change is the first step toward her success. Forgiving her mother is the next step.
QUESTIONS TO CONSIDER:
Are you frequently angry?
Is there some person or situation that often angers you?
Do you want to be less angry?
Can you apply some of the suggestions in this section?
Will you make it a decision now to improve your angry attitude?