I’m mad. The anger lies just below the surface waiting to rear its’ ugly head. I lash out at the dog for minor infractions. I kick the wastepaper basket at work. I snap at friends and, in general, I hate myself for it. I’m depressed. It feels like a hopeless cycle, but I know better.
I have PTSD too. Mine is not from a wartime experience, but from living in a battle zone as I grew up. I learned to survive, but there are some things I carry with me that go along with those survival skills. I have to ride herd on the anger-beast within me all the time. I’ve done well over the years learning to do just that, but every now and then, it gets out; then watch out!
What am I angry about, you ask? It’s a lousy situation knowing that my spouse is in a nursing facility now. I never wanted that. I’m angry at myself for not being able to keep him at home. I know it’s not rational, but that doesn’t help. I’m a gerontologist. My specialty is handing problems dealing with aging, but I couldn’t help him. That makes me mad. Fighting family interference makes me madder. It’s a problem and I have to deal with it. Fortunately, help is available.
So, what’s my secret to handling the red-rage? It’s not really a secret; it takes a lot of work. First off, I have to own my anger – admit that it’s there. That may seem like a no brainer, but you’d be surprised at how we can deny anger even when it’s staring us in the face. My tip-off is when the dog is sitting on the other side of the room with her ears down. Then I pay attention to what I’m doing: grousing and slamming things around as I think about what I want to say to the person who has ticked me off. Hard to deny that!
So, what’s the cure? I’ve had to look at a variety of solutions and play around with them until I found my personal favorite: music. I put on some music and crank it up! I take the time to think about how I’m letting my rage run my life.
There are many other ways to tame the tiger too:
• Using mindfulness which involves getting into the moment by focusing on what you are feeling right now. Anger makes us live in the past and robs us of the future. Bringing yourself back to the current moment helps us focus on what is happening now, not what happened a little while ago.
• Breathing exercises. Yes, simply taking control of your breathing can reduce your anger. By slowing your breathing down, you pull your body out of that “fight or flight” mode that comes with anger. It helps us release the anger too.
• Journaling. I use this technique too. When I get angry, my thoughts race and it’s hard to know just exactly what I am feeling, yet alone figure out a way to cope. Writing it down allows me to organize my thoughts without the anger clouding the issues. It’s one of the healthiest things I do.
• Do a reality check on your expectations. Sometimes I get angry with others because I’m already angry. That’s not fair to them. It’s kind of the kick the dog issue when you’re mad about something else and you take it out on the dog simply because he’s there. I don’t want to do that with my dog or the kids, or anyone else for that matter. My anger is my responsibility and I am the one who needs to deal with it.
There are more ways to cope with anger. The main thing is that you start looking at how to control yours. Don’t let anger manage you; there’s too much at stake. Instead start managing your anger today!