Monday, June 4, 2012

8 Things To Do When You're Angry (To Avoid Staying That Way)

If you're like me – which I hope you're not – you're sometimes prone to sudden outbursts of anger.

Maybe it's when you're sitting in traffic, going absolutely nowhere for the foreseeable future, and you have lost what tiny shred of patience you once possessed.

Maybe it's during class – if you're a teacher or a student – and someone in the room is being particularly talkative, annoying, or smelly – and you can no longer restrain your ire.

Maybe your husband or your wife isn't listening to you, and you have to keep repeating yourself time after time after time, and you've had it up to HERE (you can't see my hand right now, but it is hovering at a level roughly three inches above the top of my head).

Maybe your boss or your coworker is being a jerk, and you've tried to be understanding, tried to be a responsible adult, tried to understand that "people will be people" and there's nothing you can do about it. But enough's enough, and something's got to give, and all those other tired clichés, and before you know it, you're flying off the handle.

Whatever your situation, let's say you can't take it anymore and you're about to erupt – or you may have already erupted – into a fit of uncontrollable rage.

For times like these, I offer this simple list of things you can try to potentially assuage your own anger and help you regain your composure so that you don't make a fool of yourself, hurt someone else, or raise your blood pressure to a dangerously high level.


1)  Take a deep breath, shut your eyes tightly, and then try to list the names of the Seven Dwarfs.  If you are a perfectionist, and cannot stand to start something that you can't finish, and you know that you don't know the names of all the Seven Dwarfs, then you might not want to try this, as doing so may make you frustrated, thereby increasing your anger.

2)  Clasp your hands together tightly, tap your right foot quickly (or your left foot if you are left-handed), and imagine that you are on a deserted island in the middle of the South Pacific.  As you envision the crystal-blue water lapping at the white sand at your feet, it is impossible to remain angry at whatever it is that you're angry about. If you are someone who has a fear of abandonment, you may not want to try this particular scenario, as you may realize that on a deserted island far away from civilization you have, in essence, been abandoned not only by your friends and family, but indeed by all humanity – a thought which may trigger your feelings of abandonment and thereby increase your level of anger.

3)  Force yourself to smile, look up at the ceiling, and start singing "100 Bottles Of Beer On The Wall" as loud as you possibly can.  If you – like myself – do not drink beer or, indeed, any kind of alcohol – you may want to substitute your beverage of choice (as well as its appropriate container) in the chorus of the song. For instance, "100 Mugs of Skinny Decaf Caramel Macchiatos On The Wall." However, if you lack patience, and this factors in as a primary cause for your anger, you may not want to attempt this method, as it does take quite a while to complete the song, and you may become exasperated and wish to injure yourself or others in fits of unbridled rage as a result of your impatience.

4)  Run to the nearest bathroom, select your favorite bottle of shampoo, and count the number of times the letter "P" is used on the bottle's labeling.  Be sure to include the number of times the letter is used in the ingredients (usually, quite a lot of chemicals start with or contain the letter "P") as well as in the copyright and bottling location information. Once you have determined the total number of "P"'s, divide the number by 2 and adopt whatever number you come up with as your new favorite number. If you happen to find yourself in a car or the workplace when the sudden burst of anger overtakes you, you might want to grab the nearest vehicle operation manual or employee handbook, respectively, and count the "P"'s. The point of this exercise is, of course, that in the time that it has taken to tally up all the "P"'s you have not only forgotten what you were angry about in the first place, but you have also gained a new favorite number.

5)  Hum through one verse of your favorite pop song while clapping your hands to the beat inside your head, then write down all the words you can think of that rhyme with "walrus."  Don't just go with the obvious choices, such as "bus," "cuss," and "pus" – try to come up with some clever near-rhymes as well, such as "all of us," "bald wuss," and "all flushed," to name just a few. "Walrus" being such an absurd and happy word as it is, and the majority of its rhyming words being equally cheery (with the possible exception of "pus") will quickly lighten your mood and better enable you to deal with whatever it is that's driving you to become so outraged.

6)  Google to find a picture of your least favorite President (mine is Franklin Pierce), print it out, pin it to your wall (whether at home, the office, or wherever), and throw darts at it.  Give yourself ten points for each hit in (or in the general vicinity of) the eyes; five points for a hit to the heart (since no one seems to agree on exactly where the heart is located in the chest, this is a broader target range); and one point for any other hit on the torso, limbs, or extremities. By performing this simple exercise, you will redirect your anger to an entirely different entity, one perhaps more worthy of your aggression, and thereby calm yourself to the point where you can continue on with your day. If your least favorite President just happens to be the source of your current fit of rage, you may want to substitute his picture with a printed picture of your least favorite Teletubby instead.

7)  Roll up your sleeves, click your tongue against your teeth seventeen times, and begin making flatulent noises with your armpits.  If you are a lady and find this type of behavior to be unbefitting your nature or character, consult the nearest guy and ask him to perform this most unique type of "music" with his armpits in your presence. No matter what your level of sophistication or propriety may be, you will quickly find that you are unable to restrain yourself from laughing at the absurd juvenility of it all. While you are guffawing and quite possibly turning beet-red from the neck up, you will simultaneously be losing all recollection of your recent fit of rage, as well as whatever it was that triggered your anger in the first place.

8)  Crawl inside the trunk of your car, shut yourself in, and scream for help at the top of your lungs.  If you think you will not be rescued within a reasonable amount of time, you might want to pack a small lunch and plenty of drinking water to soothe your aching throat after screaming for so long. The stress and panic that you have created for yourself will override any anger that you felt toward yourself, another person, or a certain situation. Once you are rescued from your car, the exhilaration and relief you will feel will further obliterate any feelings of rage that may have been consuming you. You may even be interviewed by a local TV station for your courage and bravery to survive such a harrowing ordeal. This type of attention may result in a significant boost of your self-esteem level, possibly preventing further outbursts of anger which may have arisen from an irrational self-hatred that you didn't even know you'd been struggling with.

These methods are neither time-tested nor foolproof – they're simply things to try, to see if they work for you. Some of them have worked for me in the past. Some of them I just thought of today, and I plan to try the next time I get crazy-angry. Maybe they'll work for you, and maybe they won't. But at least I've given you something to think about, and perhaps that's enough.

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