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Dealing with Unwanted Anger

Written by Joseph Carrabis

Have you ever been angry and not known why or exactly what you were angry at or about?

Anger is one of our boundary emotions and has a place in psychologically healthy people’s lives. It comes into play when we feel we’re being violated, personally, professionally, psychologically, physically and so on. It comes into play when we feel a need to protect ourselves and as such has ancient roots in the most primitive parts of our brains. A fascinating thing about anger is that can range from mild upset to full blown rage.

When we’re angry and not sure why our anger can get out of control and become destructive to ourselves or those around us.

Recognizing anger’s sources

Have you ever been in a crowded elevator and someone steps on your toe? Both of you know it’s an accident and usually the other person excuses themself and moves their foot before you can say anything. Sometimes you have to get their attention and when you do, they’re embarrassed and the excuse-me’s and sorry’s are said.

Sometimes the commute was bad and the coffee you bought in the lobby is sour and you’re still brooding over the argument you had with your spouse and it’s all you can do not to club the big-footed lout on the head while shouting at them, “Move your foot, you stupid idiot.”

Each of those little morning frustrations – the spouse, the coffee, the commute – are like little pokes in the ribs. None of them are significant but repeated often enough and in quick enough succession, our frustration builds. Combine a great commute, delicious coffee and a spouse’s loving kiss with someone stepping on your toe and you might chuckle as they move and you’d say “Think nothing of it” or “Not a problem.”

But if no one steps on your toe? Little frustrations and similar daily events are still inside us. We may snap or be unpleasant to a co-worker, family member, stranger or friend. More likely we’ll just feel fatigued all day and minor irritations will become major frustrations, again robbing us of our natural selves and productive days.

Directing anger appropriately
The coffee or a similar service issue is addressed by returning to the vendor and asking for a replacement. Remember, ask first and if that fails, demand. Be assertive, not aggressive.

Spousal matters sometimes can’t be solved when they arise and they must be solved for healthy relationships to exist. State that you want to find a solution and can’t do it now. Set aside a time when both of you can sit and share — not yell — and resolve your differences. Make an appointment and make it easy for both of you to keep.

Dealing with painful commutes depends on the exact problem. Talk with your fellow commuters and get an idea of whether or not the problem exists for others or only you. For everyone? Talk to whomever manages the commuting service. For only you? Best to find an alternative commuting solution, such as a different schedule or route.

The fellow with big feet? If you notice the elevator filling, excuse yourself and get out before it gets too crowded. Take the next elevator or use the stairs (good for your heart, that). Basically, avoid situations that you know can set you off.

These solutions are examples that can be applied to a wide variety of problems. Dealing with such events is actually easy and allows our primitive brains to use anger when it’s necessary — when we’re threatened or in danger.

That’s all for now. Stay warm and well.

About the author

Joseph Carrabis

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