Family Works: Speaking on anger — exploding
by By ROB COOMBS ID. Min. Ph.D.
Dec 23, 2012 | 1582 views | 0 0 comments | 15 15 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Two men began a friendly conversation at a bar in Alabama. Eventually, for some unknown reason, the subject turned to hair. Both men quickly entered into a fierce argument concerning which one of them had the best hair. When neither man would concede that the other had the better hair, one of the men reached inside his coat pocket, produced a pistol, and without hesitation shot the other man to death. Unbelievable, but true.

For years, I believed that this story was the most ridiculous example of explosive anger imaginable but I changed my mind after telling this story in a group setting. A young man spoke up with what he claimed was an even better story. It seems that he was from Alabama, a very small town in Alabama. In his hometown, two men became involved in a heated debate over the interpretation of a Bible verse. Quickly, this heated debate became a full-blown argument with both men getting red-faced and increasingly louder. When one of the men finally recognized that the other man would never agree to his interpretation of the Scripture verse, he pulled a handgun from his pocket and shot him dead. Again, a true story and certainly even more absurd than my “hair” story. I’ve always wondered what Scripture they were arguing about. Probably not, “Thou shalt not kill.”

Over the years, in therapy I have heard story after story of the damage inflicted by explosive anger. A young adolescent who beats out every window in the family car with his bare fists because he didn’t get what he wanted (breaking many of the bones in both hands in the process). Homes where there are 50-plus holes in the dry wall from constantly irritated husbands. Disgruntled neighbors who become involved in an endless verbal war of retaliation. Wives beaten by husbands. Children who bully other children.

Explosive violence is so widespread that nearly every one of us has been at one time or another the victim of road, home, office or neighborhood rage. It’s scary and even though we don’t want to go through life scared, we need to be mindful that there are some scary people who have the potential to inflict significant harm.

What makes these individuals particularly scary, is that they harbor so much anger that it’s easy to become an innocent victim of their anger whether we know them or not.

Learning how to handle anger is a skill that should be learned early in life. Fortunately, if the skill wasn’t learned then, there are anger management classes that certainly can be helpful. Learning constructive outlets for your anger such as going for a walk, journaling, exercising, and meditation can be helpful.

Of most benefit is increasing your self-esteem so that you come to believe that you can be heard without excessive outbursts of anger since such outbursts are really reflections of inadequacy.

The better you feel about yourself, the less you will need to shout, scream, hit, or throw to get your point across.