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I have struggled with out of control anger for years, beginning when I was a teenager. While much of my teenage anger could be attributed to "teen angst", there was always an undercurrent of some very scary out of control anger. As I grew into adulthood, it only worsened, and I was into my early twenties before I finally found a workable solution.
My anger was especially hard for me to manage because I simply could not always predict it. Sometimes the things which made me the very angriest would be small things that many would consider inconsequential. For example, I've been known to have an absolute mental meltdown over being stuck in a slow grocery store line: When I am in a line at the store at the person at the head of the line is being slow and dawdling with absolutely no regard for the long line behind them, it does get me steamed. Similarly, driving can be a real challenge for me. There are so many drivers out there who drive recklessly, and don't show much consideration for the other people on the road. Situations like that really get to me , and I sometimes end up so angry I'm hysterical.
My solution seems so simple, but it really works for me. I read a couple of books on anger management, and one suggestion which has really impacted my life is this: hard work! When I have a fit of anger, here's what I do. As soon as possible, in fact that very moment if I can , I throw myself into a hard work, physical task. Cleaning out the garage is an example. There have been times I've come in from a particularly frustrating drive home and walked straight into the living room to begin rearranging furniture. After an hour or so of dragging heavy couches and tables around, the anger really does abate quite a bit and becomes manageable. An hour in the gym does wonders as well. When my anger is at dangerous levels, it's best to make myself too busy to think, and hard work does that perfectly.
Once I have the anger under control(sometimes a good brisk walk is a great solution too!), that's when I can have that herbal tea, put on calm music, and things of that nature. Anger is a challenge to manage, but I am satisfied that I've found a solution which helps me to keep mine under control at last.
Comments from Dr. DeFoore
Excellent, Louise! I congratulate you for creatively managing your anger to put it to work for you. At its best, anger is just strong energy, and you are successfully putting it to work in effective action! I also like how you mention that the calming anger management techniques come after you have done the hard physical work to release the more potent aspects of your anger.
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