Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Anger Management

Anger and rage are still taboo topics in society. If someone comes out as having a bad temper they are almost immediately ostracized by the public at large. Unfortunately, just like so many other things, anger is something we should talk about more, not less.

Let’s start of by making some clarifications: there is anger, ANGER, RAGE, and Blind Rage or Fury. These are not all the same thing, but levels of escalation. If you’re angry you likely just found someone keyed your new car. If you’re ANGRY then you just keyed someone’s car. If you’re in a RAGE, you likely just took a baseball bat to someone’s car while they were in it. And if you are in a Blind Rage or Fury, you may be soon guilty of murder. All these versions of anger though… they come from triggered emotions. Some people jump from annoyed to being a fury because of an emotional backload that keeps the person in a constant state of agitation. How do I know this? Simple, I’m that person. I have had issues with Rage and Fury my entire life. It’s something I’ve had to work on my entire life to understand and control. I’ve tried many recommended tools, and I’ve found many of my own from other sources. That’s what I want to share with you.

Not every anger management tool out there will work for every person. We are all individuals after all. However, by learning what works for others we can find ideas about what may work for us. Don’t get discouraged or angry about techniques that don’t work for you. Knowing that technique doesn’t work for you is actually a type of success. You have to rule out what doesn’t work before you can find what does work. For me, the whole “Just count to 10 if you start feeling angry” trick is the dumbest thing I have ever heard of! Seriously, how the F*** is that useful. All it does is annoy me more because I feel like I’m a grade schooler again being looked down on by everyone else in class.

What does work for me? There are a few things that help me keep my cool. First, I walk away. If whatever it was (human, computer, cell phone, door jamb after stubbing my toe, whatever) is still in my sight, I’m likely to lash out. When I get angry at any level my body tends to shoot out a lot of adrenaline instantly and it clouds my judgment just as quickly. The second thing that helped me start to get control was a nice heavy 80lbs punching bag. Due to that rush, I needed to clear my system as fast as possible of adrenaline so I could get my mind back on track. Nothing clears the head like some physical exercise for me. The third trick I learned was from a book titled Zen in the Martial Arts by Joe Hyams. There is a story in the book about the author having a panic attack while facing a major health issue and Joe talks about how he recognized how the panic attack was only making his situation worse. Joe also talks about the techniques he used to calm down and regain control of his body’s actions which arrested the panic attacks effects on his already dire situation. When I read that section of the book it was dawned on me that I could use the same techniques for my temper if I could just train my brain to recognize the situation like Joe was able to.

With this new technique idea in mind I started consciously monitoring my emotions as often as I could. It was not easy and even to this day it’s not always easy to keep a mental third person point of view on myself and my actions. It does oddly work though, and every year, more and more I’m able to keep that point of view active and keep my temper under control with ever increasing regularity. Some days I do still need to go hit my punching bag, or spend a couple hours at the gym to clear myself of building stress, but I am now much more confident that when RAGE and FURY hit me it will be for a justifiable reason rather than because I stubbed my toe, and if I do need to physically let loose… I know I’ll only hit my punching bag.

Again not everyone is the same when it comes to anger, rage, and fury. We all have our own minds and life circumstances. However, if you are reading this and have temper issues yourself, I hope my conversation with you here will help you get the control you need or at least give you an idea for how to work on getting the control you need. No one enjoys being controlled by their emotions. Especially those of us whose main emotion seems to get us in all sorts of trouble, but hiding the fact that we have such emotions just places a greater burden on yourself and makes your temper that much more volatile. Take a step back mentally, physically, or both and do what you need to be in control of yourself the way you want to be in control. Trust me, if I can do it… anyone can! I just wish I’d have known all this when I was a kid. Then my family, the walls in the house, the doors in the house, and steering wheel of my first car, and several other things would have remained in much better condition! These days, the only thing I feel like I’m likely to damage is my own wrists from the meditative effect I get while hitting my heavy bag or lifting weights a few racks up from what I should probably be using on those bad stress days.

I hope you feel better about who you are after reading this. It was and still is a hard subject for me to talk about openly because I hate being out of control. However, taking control and starting a discussion with you all, is another step I’ve been needing to take.

Take care, and be peaceful. 

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