Ahh, yes, that emotion that lurks just below the surface, just waiting for a chance to explode and express itself. It’s an emotion that we can count on, and when we’re fully engaged with it, it’s hard to distinguish whether WE’RE in charge, or if it’s the ANGER which controls us.
There are so many times during the day that one can experience this potentially volatile feeling. It can be aroused through irritations from someone who knows just which buttons to push, to indiscriminate road rage, to anger with a loved one. Whether it’s a trifling matter or the stuff of which relationships can be broken, anger needs attention and control.
How do I deal with wrath? I usually have to take deep breaths, put on a phony smiley face, count —perhaps out loud— to 5 or 10, slowly, and then choose my words very carefully. At least that’s been my approach when working with 3rd graders who might go home and report my behavior to their parents. However, the technique has worked —and I’ve shared with the students exactly what I was doing— exerting some self-control, since I was always beseeching them to acquire some self-discipline.
About a decade ago, I noticed the sign on the front lawn of a church which stated: “He who angers you controls you.” It struck me then that there was a lot of fall-out when I unleashed my anger, and that I was a reactionary kind of person—letting people and events control me. It also occurred to me that I didn’t want to give in to anger so much that it would shape the way I behaved towards strangers, children, my family or friends.
I googled anger and came across a myriad number of articles, all of which acknowledged its power and its force for good when controlled. No article said that being mad was bad—in fact it’s quite a normal everyday feeling—but all would agree that control (anger-management) was the key to healthy, stress-free living.
Mayo clinic has 10 ways to maintain control over anger:
- Think before you speak.
- Express anger when calm. State concerns without hurting others or trying to control them.
- Getting some exercise reduces stress brought on by anger.
- Take a ‘time-out’. Isolate yourself.
- Use your anger as fuel to help you solve the problem.
- Stick with “I” messages instead of leveling blame and criticism. Say, “I’m upset when you…” instead of, “You’re such a jerk when you…”
- Don’t hold a grudge. Holding onto anger leads to the negative qualities of bitterness and resentment, which can swallow a person from the inside.
- Use humor to deflate the situation—without making the object of your anger the butt of your jokes.
- Practice relaxation skills, concentrate on breathing, reciting poetry, listening to music, yoga.
- Know when to seek help. Even a Google search helps.
And remember that ‘letting it all out’ isn’t necessarily an effective strategy, and isn’t healthy for you, or the recipient of your venting. Learning some skills to deal with anger effectively will lead to respect between people in situations at work, on facebook, the neighborhood, traffic, and our homes.
[Img.Src: Angry Cat, 1877]