My Evening At School
Hello, my name is Kev. I'm 32 years old and I'm currently in a Masters program. I'm actually a first semester student in seminary. I have always had an issue with my anger especially when it comes to me feeling disrespected.
Today I had a class where I work in a group of 5 students. A teacher's assistant facilitates. While we were having a discussion, a phone call came through. It was from my mother who is currently in the hospital. I automatically picked up the phone and answered it without thinking to first step outside.
The teacher's assistant got an attitude about it and made a sarcastic comment. I gave her what she gave me and I left the room to handle the call. When I came back, words were exchanged and I really wanted to slam her face against the table repeatedly. I had to step outside of the room for a few minutes because I didn't feel safe to stay there and see her.
I wanted to break something. I wanted to smash and destroy things. I went to the bathroom and punched the walls and the bathroom doors. That feeling comes over me when I feel disrespected. It's the bad part of me. My mind then starts to escalate things. I start thinking about hurting the person who I feel has disrespected me and other people who might want to get involved or intervene.
I NEED a way to get rid of this anger before a day comes when I don't want to step outside of the room. Sometimes, I wonder if I'm insane. I'm sad a lot. Sometimes I'm happy but I think I'm sad more than I'm happy. Most people don't know that.
I wish I could change. I wish I was different. I wish I was desensitized, where nothing and no one affected me. I envy people like that. I think I would be happy if I was like that. People like that have no worries. People like that can rule the world because they learned how to rule themselves. Is there hope?
Response from Dr. DeFoore
Hello Kev, and thanks for telling your story here. I appreciate your openness and honesty about your problem. I will do my best to offer some help.
There is always hope. As long as you're drawing a breath, there is hope, and you're doing a lot more than breathing.
There are reasons for your anger, and I suggest that they may be the same reasons that you are sad most of the time. These emotions run together in the subconscious mind, and can easily trigger each other.
Here is what I suggest, in order for you to help yourself with this problem:
1) Write a full, detailed inventory of every experience you have had in which you felt disrespected. Go as far into your childhood as you can with this, since the earlier experiences are more formative than the ones in later life. Use the guidelines on this page to help with this.
2) Come up with a mental picture of your anger. Keep searching for an image until you have a clear picture in your mind. Amplify it, making it larger than life, even if it is cartoon-like. It needs to fully embody your anger, so that it is completely consumed and illustrates exactly how you feel when you're filled with rage and the desire to attack and destroy. Keep going until you know for sure that it is accurate and really "captures" your emotion. It needs to not look like you--you are much more than this emotion. This image has to be purely your anger and rage, nothing else. Take all the time you need for this, and don't stop until you are certain that you have "captured" the image.
3) You are not going to fight with or try to kill this part of you. That just won't work. While picturing it in your mind, say this to it: "I can see that you are a part of me. I created you a long time ago, for my protection. If I let you run my life, you will destroy it. I'm not going to try to kill you or make you go away. You have a place here, but you're not going to be in charge any more. I'm taking over, which will keep both of us safe. I know you're strong, but your strength belongs to me, and I choose to use it for good things."
4) Notice how the image responds or changes in your mind while you say these things. Keep working with it in this way until you begin to see a healthy anger image start to emerge. Ultimately, you want to transform it into a loyal ally--that's what happens when your anger is healthy.
5) Every time you start to get angry, picture the unhealthy image of your anger--the first one you saw, and keep at it until you can see it clearly. This is called "See It Don't Be It," and it will help you to manage your anger.
Keep in mind, Kev, that any form of abuse, neglect and/or abandonment feels disrespectful, along with a lot of other feelings. Your inventory of past memories of being disrespected is nothing less than a personal pain inventory.
Be aware that unresolved grief can often lead to anger problems. Take a look at this page on stages of grief for more info. Your mention of your mother in the hospital brings this to mind. The grieving process can begin as our loved ones decline in health in the latter part of their lives, even if their prognosis is still good.
You are not insane, Kev. You have an anger problem, and I assure you there are good reasons for it. Your challenge is to find out what those are, and use the tools I have provided for healing and resolution.
Use these tools and this information, Kev, and you will get some good results.
Believe in your good mind and your good heart.
My very best to you,