Anger: Does It Control You?

If you took a poll in my immediate family or circle of friends and they described my level of anger, it would rate very low. I tend to live on the passive side of conflict- the loss of control causes me to withdraw from a situation and internalize. Tonight during my league bowling I saw an incident boil over between two opposing teams where anger turned grown men into junior high kids- or possible wrestling foes.

That’s why I pose the question when it comes to your life: do you control your anger or does anger control you?

I guess I have a certain intensity when I compete, but I’ve never let it boil over to the point where I’m kicking machines, slamming my hands against plastic seat cushions or even getting into someone’s face and threatening them with violence. I’ve never found exemplary performance in a tense, boiling state of mind. How can you expect to repeat shots, focus on the task in front of you and make adjustments when all your brain feels is seething rage that consumes an otherwise rational mind?

Growing up I learned the best model for anger management. I’d term it retreat and refocus. Whether we empty our mind by doing a particular activity in our pleasure zone, creative visualization to clear our heads or even engage in an intense walk- moving away from the environment would be the best way to take the first step to changing our state and moving to recovery. Whether it took 10 minutes or an hour, when we regain our composure and are viewing colors of blue and green versus pure red, we can then have a rational conversation of acknowledgment, apology and conflict resolution.

If you see someone just continuing to wind themselves up, there’s no sense in attempting to calm them down. Much like change, they have to want to regain control themselves. Our oldest daughter will often run back and forth from room to room looking for an audience when she’s having a temper tantrum. The younger daughter on the other hand will whine, scream, stomp, yell, launch verbal attacks on our parenting ability- and fear will come out if we attempt to isolate her within the apartment.

So we have to use two different methods for anger management based on each child’s coping style. The older one will use her five senses to get back into good space- often taking a walk, listening to her favorite music, or drawing. The younger one usually feels calmer after taking a shower or coloring.

I’m not proposing in any way that you can stop anger from entering your mind. It’s a natural emotion that comes and go like the tides of oceans. We do have to recognize when it does take place in our day to day activity and see if there are ways that we can channel it in a healthy direction. Do you recognize what stresses you out and where we can get that excess energy pushed out?

Maybe you need to go dancing at a club- or hit golf balls at your local country club. For others doing a mad spring cleaning will feel much healthier. I’ve personally found that listening to heavy metal music, bowling, reading and writing in my journal give me enough diverse choices to never let anger consume me.

If you do lose control around your friends or family in a momentary lapse of reason- be sure to make amends as soon as possible. People are very forgiving if you admit your errors and find a way to fix them. We’ve had to teach our daughters an important fact when it comes to anger:

No one can cause your anger, you do this to yourself based on how you view events and situations plus the way you interpret them.

Here’s hoping that next week when I go back to league, I see these two grown men shake hands, apologize and agree to handle things differently next time.


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