Dealing With Anger

Angry DriverBy Irene Conlan –

Here’s what I believe: Healthy people rarely get angry. In this part I show you that toxic anger is a byproduct of a toxic lifestyle. If you’re on the edge of stress burnout, if your daily diet consists mainly of caffeine and alcohol (with some nicotine thrown in for good measure!) f your life is all out of balance (too much work, too little play), if you never get a good night’s sleep, if you carry the whole world on your shoulders because you don’t believe in some sort of higher power, and if you’re depressed as hell why in the world wouldn’t you be angry? Change all that and you’ll see some major changes in how angry you are.

The paragraph above is the author’s summary of a chapter in Anger Management for Dummies – one of the best books on anger I have read.

About fifteen years ago, this described me. I was ending an unhappy marriage, running a company that grew too fast and now was beginning to decline, taking care of my 80 year old mother and battling Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. I crashed and was in bed for three months not caring if anything got done or not. In that period leading up to the crash, I was angry – at everyone and everything. I generally didn’t yell or scream – I held it in – and it would seep out in sarcasm and hateful remarks. It came out in traffic when almost anything another driver did would trigger it and I would honk and talk to them in no uncertain terms inside my car – among other things.

After the crash, I knew I had to make some serious changes. Fortunately I didn’t drink excessively or smoke so I didn’t have that to contend with. I had an overload of responsibility and wild emotions that needed attention and amending.

It took a year to sell the company and less than that for my divorce to be final. That solved many problems at once although it created some more along the way. Divorce is not easy no matter how unfulfilling the marriage is and I had those emotions to deal with. Selling a company you started from an idea and grew successfully is very much like divorce and the question from both of them is “What do I do now?”

I studied hypnotherapy and, after working in a clinic for a year,  started my own hypnotherapy practice. It was very therapeutic for me as well and, along the way,  I’ve had total recovery from the Chronic Fatigue (which I am told doesn’t happen but it did with me – and yes, I really had it), have a much more peaceful lifestyle, and generally can stay calm and centered. Occasionally, I overreact and lash out before I can get it under control – not stuffed but managed. Sometimes I become aware of a “batch” of anger boiling inside me and I need to stop and deal with it before it gets out of control. Most of it is very old stuff that I can examine and, finding no real need of use for it now, let it go.

Sometimes anger serves a purpose and it is healthy.  It is healthy when it energizes you,  when it clears your mind, improves your communication with others ,  when it improves your self esteem and when it helps you deal with fear and insecurity. In these cases you have your anger controlled so you can say and do what you have to say and do effectively without injuring the other person verbally or physically. You stand up for yourself and say what needs to be said.

Sometimes anger is destructive and unhealthy.  If it leads to verbal or physical abuse of another – whether justified or not – it is unhealthy. If it results in domestic violence, sexual abuse, property damage, addictions, self mutilation, or poor health (ulcers, colitis, etc.) it is unhealthy anger and needs attention.

If your stress level and anger have reached a point that you are angry most of the time and you are taking it out on those you love the most, it is time to do something about it – NOW.  Find a counselor who can help you – someone who specializes in anger management.  NOW is the keyword here.

If you are not in crisis but unhappy with yourself (and probably  with those around you) there are some things you can do.  Anger management starts with self awareness so begin by sitting down and writing down those things that stress you the most and those things you are the most angry about. Be very honest with yourself.  Sort them into two groups:

1) those things that cause stress and  anger that you cannot change right now and

2) those things that cause stress and anger that you can change right now.

For example, you may not be able to change an unhappy marriage into a happy marriage right now but you can begin to take steps to make it work or to leave it.  Often just knowing you intend to deal with the situation gives you relief.

You can change some things in your life that will give you quick relief. You can get more sleep by going to bed earlier and you can have proper nutrition by cutting out the junk food and fast food and eating a more balanced diet. It is a fact that when you are rested and nourished, you can deal with the stresses and the anger more efficiently and effectively (and as your health improves so does balance and resilience. You may find that some of the other anger inducers may no longer trigger you).

When you have made your lists, prioritize the items. What is most important and what can you change first? With this information you can make decisions, formulate a plan of action and begin to bring your stress level and your anger under control. It takes time and effort on your part, but is well worth it. You will like yourself much more and so will everyone around you.

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