Dealing with Anger: Part I

Part I or a two part series.  I wanted to break this up into two smaller chunks, I may do it in three chunks but I think two will be good.  I will post part two in the next couple of weeks!!  

The one thing I notice with many of the new members is they say they have trouble with anger or something that is similar.  Many times they ask in their intros or somewhere else on the forum what can I do to control my anger.  Well I decided to do some writing on how to deal with this and work through it.

The first thing you have to understand is you can not bury your anger.  Many people will take their anger and as they say "bottle it up."  First of all, this is extremely unhealthy in many different ways.  The main outcome of keeping your anger in is that over time it builds and can cause a major increase in stress level.  That increase depending on other factors can contribute to diabetes and a heart attack just to name two.  Eventually this build up of internal anger is going to become too much for you to handle and depending on the situation the result of all that anger could be VERY harmful to yourself and/or others around you.

Think of your ability to keep your anger bottled up as a dam.  Each time you add to it the water level rises.  At some point the water level will become too much and will flood over the top of the dam resulting in the violent destruction of the dam.  Many people that come here saying they have serious anger issues are at what they call the breaking point.  This is where the water has risen so much that it is just about to flood over the top of the dam.  The smallest addition to that water will result in the destruction of the dam holding all of the water.  I have noticed this is one of the biggest draws for the Jedi.  Many people who have anger problems or other issues come here because they see the inner peace and control we have and they want that for themselves.  So now the question is, what can I do to begin reaching that inner peace and control and make it so anger is no longer an issue for me?

The first thing you must recognize and this can also be the hardest part is, you MUST have patience.  To get your anger under control and reach that inner peace and control with yourself could take many years.  For example as I have mentioned in a number of other posts on this forum, it took me about 6 years to really get myself under control with my temper.  This is going to take a lot of time and will be a lot of work but it is a VERY achievable goal.  Remember, even the smallest step forward can result in a major decrease in the water level behind the dam.  Also, I am not going to just talk about how to control your anger but make it so you don't have a dam anymore.  You will be working towards having a nice free-flowing river with no water restrictions that cause it to build up.  

The first thing is you have to identify what is causing the problem.  Below are a few things to look at.

Many times we can cut out aspects of our life that make us angry.  Many times are anger is a result of our choices.  It may be the people you hang out with or even situations you put yourself in that end up leading to this build up of anger.  I remember watching some of my friends in high school hanging out with certain individuals and it just brought out the worst in them.  One of my best friends was like this, and he was only like this around these two individuals.  It had nothing to do with being a show off, peer pressure or any of the other standard things.  These people just were able to bring out the worst in others.  As soon as he made the choice to stop hanging out with these people you could almost see the change within a week or two.  It's the same thing with situations.  Don't purposely put yourself into a stressful situation.  I understand at times you will have to deal with people like I was discussing above or situations like I have been explaining.  However, before going into them, realize and understand what may happen.  If you know what you are getting into, it will make dealing with whatever happens that much easier and most likely won't be a problem because you are prepared.  If you have anger or stress issues in your life, look around at your friends or situations you are in.  You MUST be honest with yourself and look at everything realistically.  Should you make some life changes that take you away from certain individuals or get out of an environment that leads to anger and stress issues.

Is it the problem in front of you causing you to get angry or are you taking your anger out on the person/object in front of you when it's really something else that is making you angry.  The best way to explain this is by example.  When I was growing up my parents were divorced and I lived with my Mother.  My Father to put it nicely had some anger issues and tended to blow up over the minor things.  I was quite verbally abused by him and I just buried it, as I was advising against above.  He did a lot of things to my Mother too and she also bottled it up.  We would be around the house and some little stupid thing would happen and we would just both blow up at each other.  We weren't angry about what just happened but we took all that anger we had saved up inside us and unleashed it on each other.  When you get angry or look back on a situation you were angry in, you need to determine if it was that event that caused the anger or if it was something else and you just took it out on what was in front of you at the time.  

I have mentioned this in an older post but I am always reminded of the scene in the movie Patch Adams that reinforces the above example.  Patch Adams is talking to Mendelson in his bedroom and Mendelson has been going all over the Psych Ward holding up 4 fingers and asking people how many do they see.  Every time they answer the standard answer 4, he would flip out.  Patch Adams asked him what was the answer and Mendelson held up 4 fingers and asked him the same question.  Patch answered as usual 4.  However, Mendelson told him to look beyond the problem, once patch looked beyond the fingers they got blurry and you saw double.  The answer was anything above 4 because he was looking beyond the problem.  Sometimes you are just so concentrated on the problem at hand that made you anger you are blind to the real reason you are angry.  Take a moment and step back, look through the problem and see if there is something that you are missing.

Once you determine the root cause of your anger you need to figure out why it is making you angry.  This part is very personal and will be different for everyone.  Look back at your life, has it been a number of things that have added to that one thing that now makes you angry.  Meditate on the root cause of your anger and see if you can find out why it causes you to react angry.  This part may take time or it may take 1 minute to figure out.  It will be different for each person reading this.

The final thing for this part is you have to keep things in perspective.  I have seen, this is the same person, they have been infuriated over losing a simple game of go fish and then later that week when they were almost hit by a really idiotic driver they didn’t say or do anything other then mumble a quick word.  Now I’m not saying that they had to be infuriated over almost being hit but by this example it should be easy to see things were a little out of proportion.  Make sure when you are looking at things you keep the in proportion.  I see people get so angry over the smallest things.  Sometimes it’s better and just easier to let the small things go, as they say, pick your battles.  I am not saying you always have to be calm as sometimes getting angry is justified.  I can’t say it enough though, just keep things in perspective.  Remember that there is a difference between being angry and going off the deep end.

In the next part I will talk about how you can begin removing your already built up anger and begin tearing down your dam so you can have that nice free-flowing river.