"What tha?!" When did being angry become so bad that someone had to coin the phrase “anger management” to control it? What "new" activity in this century spurred the need for managing anger? Domestic violence, be it spousal, elder, sibling, or child abuse is not new. Systemic racism, homophobia, misogyny, or terrorism are ageless, but now we have groups and individual sessions to help manage the out-of-control behaviors stemming from these belief systems.
So, “What does it mean for the everyday person to manage anger?” Briefly, allow me to ask a few questions that I think might, perhaps, shed a different light on anger and managing it. I’m going to call it rage and not anger, as I believe it takes rage—fury--to inspire some of the extreme behaviors (e.g., opening fire on innocent people) people often exhibit in the name of anger. However, I'm sure there is a social scientist in a lab somewhere coining a word or phrase to capture and explain recent harmful behaviors.
First, ask yourself:
1) What is my rage about?
2) What have I been doing with my anger before it turned into rage?
3) Do I believe that I have any control over the thing(s) that upsets me?
4) Might my lack of control play a role in my rage?
5) Do I have any positive outlets for my emotions before anger leads to rage? Like:
a. Video games and TV shows
c. Meditation, Yoga
6) What or who are the usual targets of my anger (rage)?
7) Why is this thing or person my target?
8) In what way does my expression--the thing I do when I am enraged--of my anger satisfy my anger/rage?
9) Do I feel better or are things different or better after I strike, shoot, rape someone or destroy property?
10) Am I angry with myself? If so, why am I angry with myself?
11) Do I need to see a professional to better manage my behavior when I am angry?
12) Do I have friends or loved ones that support me?
Finally, if any of the above questions create any sort of curiosity within you then pursue the options that feel right to you. It could be several of the above questions, but whatever fits for you be proactive in your decision to transform your rage into productive action. In other words, refashion your emotions so that you “use your power for good and not evil”.
But Dr. Nixon, "How might I do this when I'm so out of control that I can't begin to consider your questions?" That's a very good question, my friend and my response is this:
The fact that you had the words to craft such a question tells me that you are thoughtful, even brilliant. So, consider this if you possibly can--I know it's difficult, but try: Question the part of you that asked me that question. Turn your attention to your thoughts and question the thinker that is you. There is a You that sees everything you do and knows everything that you know. This You can help you examine your behavior and possibly give you a few ideas on how to manage what you do and say to others. Sounds deep? It is, but you can hear it--understand it, and you can actually do it!
I'm interested in knowing how you turn yourself around.