What Everyone Should Know about Anger. Part 4: It’s OK to be angry. It’s what you say and do when you’re angry that matters.

Scenario: Jack was furious at his boss for undermining his authority yet again. He wanted to quit! He felt powerless.  He met with a business colleague and was telling him about what had happened. The business colleague had offered him a job before and told him the offer was still open. Jack was interested. That would serve his boss right if he quit. Still furious Jack said he’d like to think about it and get back to him.

Jack went home. He rolled up a newspaper and put duct tape around it. After making four more paper bats he went down into his basement. He found a pole and wailed on the pole until all five of the paper bats were in shreds. He was exhausted. His anger was gone. As he rested he realized that he did not want to leave his current job. He realized that besides liking the job, he valued the people he worked with and would miss them. He decided that he would find a way to address his issues with his boss.

When people are angry they want to attack or defend – anger has a purpose – to make something happen or stop something from happening.  There are many ways to express anger constructively and productively.

Allow your body to do what it needs to do.

Four rules:

1.       Do not hurt anyone else.

2.       Do not hurt yourself.

3.       Do not damage or destroy anything of value.

4.       Do this alone only if you are confident that you can control your impulses.  If you are not sure, seek out one or more people you trust to act as monitors for you. Or, seek professional help.

Types of attacking motions:

Slapping, hitting, pounding, chopping, stomping, swatting, poking, throwing, smashing, slamming, grabbing, kneading, kicking, shoving, squeezing, pushing, pinching, pulling, screaming, ripping, tearing, cutting (with knives, scissors).

Sports

Many sports provide us with outlets for anger by doing attacking motions. Hockey, soccer, tennis. Racquetball, badminton, football, volleyball, basketball, boxing, wrestling, archery, darts and more.

Martial Arts provide excellent ways to do attacking motions.

[Many of these sports involved running or skating yet those activities are not attacking motions, they are fleeing motions.]

Attacking motions that can be done at home.

Roll up a magazine or newspaper and put tape around it. Pound the kitchen counter with it.

Punch or kick pillows, throw rolls of toilet paper at the bathroom wall, throw a rug over a railing and pound it with a broom. Tear or cut up an old bed sheet. Rip up a phone book. Stomp on bubble packing material or up and down stairs.

Household chores: Scrub the floor. While making bread, knead the dough.

Gardening: pull weeds, dig, prune trees and shrubs, etc.

Workshop: pound nails into wood, sawing, hammering, pulling nails out of wood, grinding, chiseling, etc.

Express anger and clear your mind.

By doing attacking motions anger is dissipated and does not build up. Afterwords, people may still be angry yet no longer want to attack. They think more clearly. They are better able to access the underlying vulnerable feelings that are generating the anger. They are better able to deal effectively with whomever or whatever is making them angry.

Because the anger is not building up it is easy to handle or manage. Now, when an upsetting event happens there is a response rather than a reaction. Small events generate small responses and more serious events generate larger responses. That is, the response fits the event.

With care and concern,

Dr. Bea

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