- Do you have trouble with anger? - Do you find yourself exiting the freeway early to capitalize on teaching moments with other drivers (in the form of obscenities)? - Do you lose all control when the hostess can’t find your reservation? - Then do you feel embarrassed when someone glances at you in the restaurant parking lot later? - And because you can imagine what they must be thinking, you chase them down and beat them up? And then you realize your rage has gotten the best of you once again, so you now have to find a way to dispose of a body?
If this sounds like you, then I can help (if you promise not to leave a mark). You see, I’m not only an anger management advocate, I’m also a customer!
Okay, it takes much longer than a week, so ignore the headline. I have been working on my anger for years, exploring more effective ways to communicate frustrations outside of family tradition of screaming. Apparently, yelling doesn’t diffuse the situation. Jackie will be the first to tell you that I’ve made incredible progress from our first days of knock-down / drag-out romance. I suppose she’ll be the second, because I just told you, but she would definitely agree.
For example, this weekend Jackie expressed her anxiety about something she had to do for work. Luckily, I knew of an immediate solution to her problem. Since I’m the best husband in the world, I suppose you might expect me to propose the solution in supportive, non-threatening way. But, you’d be wrong. I’m a man! And men don’t do anything gently. I snapped it at her. I find the most effective way to help someone is by adding a layer of uncomfortable emotion to the situation.
Actually, the old me would’ve layered the response with a subtle hint of rage and plenty of disproportional emotion. But, the new me? Pure restraint. For the most part. My wife didn’t really notice any subtext in my response, but I felt it – a very slight hint of something behind my casual “recommendation.”
So, a mere 3 minutes later, I felt compelled to clarify my response. It turns out that discussing my anger is a great way to declaw my frustration. I step outside myself and perform a bit of home-grown, back-seat self-therapy. It’s probably not very scientific, but it calms me down and dissolves the false notion that I’m a helpless baby. Even though I totally am!
A part of me misses the good old days when life was simple. And anger seemed to really work. Anger served as the perfect catch-all emotion. Frustrated? Get angry! Helpless? Angry! Sad and hurt? Angry and angry! As versatile as WD-40 and duct tape!
That feeling of control was just an illusion. If you have a few minutes to spare, you should check out this insightful video about anger:
I further explore my anger through the control-freak main character for the BABY TIME! series. I wanted to harvest some magic from my own struggles with anger, and make fun of myself in the process. The exploration resulted in the dishwasher scene you will see in Episode 1.
Those of you with dishwasher issues know what I mean. I was once like you, but now I’m a new man. When I see the dishwasher out of order, I simply shrug and carry on. Usually.
What are YOU looking at?