You mad, Bro?
I am. I have so much anger. You wouldn’t know this from looking at me because I have a generally positive disposition and a very upbeat personality. I am laughing most of the time. I am known for making others laugh too. However underneath the sweet Pollyanna outside, is a volcano of anger. When I was drinking I knew exactly what to do when it started to erupt. Drink, obviously. Drinking would numb the anger or distract me or allow me to ignore it. Being pissed off was automatic permission to drink more. The alcohol would usually take the edge off for me. So it was an effective anger management tool, until it wasn’t. I started being angry all the time. Then I started being under the influence more often than not. Anger is one big reason why I drank. I didn’t want to be angry. Anger is incredibly uncomfortable for me.
I still have anger in sobriety and its still incredibly uncomfortable. I have learned some things about anger and this knowledge has helped me incredibly.
Bust a Move
The first thing I do when I am at a breaking point is move my body. I have to do something physical immediately. Maybe its move furniture around, walk around the block twenty times, start dancing, or go for a run. It is proven that physical exercise is one of the most effective ways to reduce anger. It provides an opportunity to release your emotions and promotes feelings of well-being. So the first thing I do when I am about it explode is get out and go for a walk or run. It really does help. You can do this too. Even 10 jumping jacks shifts the energy and puts you back in charge of your emotions.
Who could it be now?
Next, I consider my anger and where it is directed. I am always angry at someone or something, but we really know everything has everything to do with us. So I continue asking myself questions until I can identify why I am really mad at the one and only...me. When I think I am mad at my husband or kids for this or that, it turns out it is always me that I am mad at. I am blaming my family for the way I feel. Something they did or said made me mad, but the really rage comes from my reaction to it. Not them. Knowing I don’t control them, I always have to bring it back to me and what I control. 90% of my anger issues come from wanting to control things I can’t. I want to control things and people. I know I am not alone in this. I also know I can only control one thing, me. Ooh this makes me mad!
What are you really feeling?
I have recently learned that anger is a secondary emotion. I have to think beyond even the anger. I want “Serenity Now”, so They say, and to let go of anger and the things I don’t control. In order to do this I have to ask what emotion is anger protecting? Anger is a mask for something else. Anger is a more socially acceptable emotion than many. What is the feeling that I am afraid to feel? In my case, of wanting to control everyone and everything it is usually helplessness.
Once I identify the real emotions of helplessness, behind the mask of anger, I feel better immediately. Calling out this emotion provides clarity and alleviates confusion, which contributed to my anger. I am able to accept the feeling of helplessness. I am no longer mad at myself for feeling this way. I accept that I am helpless in some situations and I also create a plan of action for the things I can control. I don’t control other people or outside circumstances, but I do control how I decide to handle challenges in my life.
Try these coping techniques next time you feel the rage and see if you are able to better process your emotions.