Seeing Red: How to REALLY Deal with Anger

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I have been full of rage lately.

Unexplainable-chili-pepper-hot-blown-out-of-proportion anger over trifles.

I’m pissed about burnt English Muffin toast.

I’m livid over the fact that I unsubscribed from HBO right before season 2 of Game of Thrones began.

I’m fuming over abysmally written novels that I’ve wasted half an hour on before I toss them out of my third floor window.

I want to mentally throw lukewarm Red Ginger tea in the face of folks on Facebook who act completely fake from the person I know them to be in the real world; people who write incessantly about helping others but don’t actually lift a manicured finger to do so.  Peeps who write about the importance of friendship but suck at it.

That’s not all

When I experience inconsiderate behavior I want to fly off my balcony and break the concrete in the driveway with my bare fists.

When I think of people who have utterly crushed me in my life I want to blow up the empty house next door with a few sticks of well-placed dynamite.

I don’t want to hurt anyone. I just want to break shit. And I don’t want to break things lightly. I don’t want to smash a dainty china teacup or slap someone with a pair of gloves circa 1777. I want to detonate something.

And… I wholly recognize that I have no real reason to be so full of fury over such paltry grievances. So… I decided to ask around about how others deal with anger. Here are some of the responses:

  • “Take a walk” – Yeah, okay, um… perhaps that would make me feel better if I had The Incredible Hulk’s feet so that I could break the ground beneath me as I took my stroll. Or, maybe, if I were the Tasmanian Devil a walk/whirling whiz destroying all in my path would feel good.
  • “Breathe” – Hahahahaha. If I weren’t breathing I wouldn’t be alive, dumb-ass. And yes, I’m breathing from my abdomen. Yes, they’re full, deep breaths. No, I don’t feel better.
  • “Get to the heart of what made you angry” – I already know what made me angry. That’s why I’m angry. And no I don’t need to lie on a therapist’s couch either. I’ve already dug to the bottom of my anger. I allowed someone’s actions to remind me that they are an inconsiderate prick which caused me to feel unheard, unseen, devalued, hurt, and invalidated. Yup, I still want to crush something.
  • “Play with your cats” – I don’t have cats but I put my incredible brain power to this and assume dogs will do. So-Kr8z never makes me angry. Well, except when he lifts his leg and pees on the bottle of No-Go Puppy Potty Repellant spray. But, even then, I look at his face and my anger at him dissolves like Jell-O granules in boiling water. But… he doesn’t alleviate my anger toward the mundane fuckery of the world.
  • “Focus on the positive” – I fill out my fucking gratitude journal every day before I cuddle with The Kr8z in my divine bed in my glorious home surrounded by majestic mountains and family that I adore.
  • “Workout” – I “pump iron” four or five days a week while listening to Disturbed. If that hasn’t cut it I don’t know what will.

What the hell is happening to me? I’m typically an open, accepting, empathetic, sweet person. I’m the person who can make up with anyone, no matter how hurt I’ve been. I’m the person who’s been slapped, sans gloves, and turns the other cheek. I’ve been known, my whole life, to be the mediator for folks with issues with others. I talk people down from the ledge. I’m the one who, with laser sharp focus, can see the hurt in someone else’s soul and be filled with unconditional love for them.

I haven’t been this irate since I was a teenager and my high school crush made out with a friend of mine. At the tender age of fourteen, I dealt with this indiscretion by taking a quarter bottle of Bacardi 151 out into the field, drinking it, and proceeding to smash field posts with my fists – breaking every blood vessel in my hand. God that felt good. I didn’t care that I was being psychotic. I didn’t care what the other kids at the party thought. I didn’t hold back or hold it in. I expressed my emotion right there in the Bermuda grass and then puked in it.

Love, light & thistles

As I’ve matured I’ve tried to be all love, light and lilies when what I feel lately is brooding, dark and thistles.

Isn’t it okay? Maybe there shouldn’t be a cover-up for anger. Maybe we should just feel it. Maybe we should just break shit. Our society doesn’t deal well with the darker emotions. We’re supposed to be happy, we’re supposed to repress our anger. “Deal with it.” “Get over it.” We’re not supposed to feel sad – even when someone has died. I’ve lost count of the number of people in my life who’ve lost someone and are immediately prescribed anti-depressants and sleeping pills.

Here’s what I think is happening with me. I think for the past 25 years I have repressed my anger, “gotten over it,” “dealt with it,” by hiding it and covering it up. I’ve been the nice girl. I’ve been the “Sure, go ahead and trample all over me” girl. But this anger and rage has been biding its time; inside of me. Waiting. Hanging out till I grew the ovaries to express my dissatisfaction, hurt, resentment, and pissed-off-edness; holding back till I stopped caring what other people thought of me and my feelings; waiting for me to stop worrying if my expressed emotions, good or “bad”, would bother another.

I’m all about the love and light, people, but sometimes you’re just pissed. In that vein I’ve come up with a few of my own tips to help you to deal with your anger. Don’t get it twisted, it’s in there somewhere.

How to Really Deal with Your Anger

  1. Be angry
  2. Feel angry
  3. Express anger (hopefully without the Bacardi, fists and fence posts)
  4. You’re done.

 

8 replies
  1. Marc Heller says:

    Actually I really like the picture you chose! Totally agree with you that it is so important to feel your anger, and every other emotion. If you try to repress one emotion, you end up repressing them all. My favorite way of dealing with anger (and stress) is going to a shooting range, renting a gun for an hour, buying bullets and shooting at a paper target. Yes, sometimes those targets look like people, bad people, but I can fantasize any image, even on a regular bullseye. Sometimes a game of darts just doesn’t cut it. After cathartically blasting away (it feels good even if you don’t hit a thing) I can step out into the sun a much calmer and happier person. Great post! Well written too!

    Reply
    • Melanie Bates says:

      Ah, thank you, Marc. I ended up liking the picture I found too. I love the idea of heading to a shooting range. I’ve actually inherited a number of guns (but don’t hunt & would never actually shoot a living thing) but I do like to target practice – it’s been years. Thanks so much for your comment and suggestion!

      Reply
  2. Kim says:

    Melanie,

    I love this fire raising, rock breaking, smashing post! I can even feel the anger well up in me while reading! “Ya.. that’s right.. FEEL the anger” says my stomach!

    WOO! Thank you!

    Reply
  3. Sheila Bergquist says:

    Melanie, you said in an answer to one of my posts that we were soul sisters and I couldn’t agree more! I feel exactly the same way. I think it’s ok to get angry and break things…not only ok, but a normal, sane reaction to some of the stuff that happens to us. I also was always the person you described yourself as. And I have been through a rage period too, where I finally got totally pissed off at being so nice and hiding my anger. I have always wanted to buy a punching bag and use it for times like that, but I was afraid I’d break my hands…haha.
    I believe firmly in getting out your emotions. It may be why our world is such a mess today, because emotions are seen so rarely anymore…from sadness or anger to empathy and love.
    I just discovered your site and am loving reading through all your posts!

    Reply
    • Melanie Bates says:

      Ah, my sister!

      You’re so right. I recall Martha Beck talking about this (I think it was her.) That an emotion takes about 90 seconds to pass through you. If you let it. That’s the key, not to stuff it down, but to just feel it and let it pass. Punching bags for all!

      I’m so excited to see that you’re going through my posts! I love it, thank YOU.

      xo
      Melanie

      Reply

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