Do you ever have those days when you are mad at the world but, for some reason, you can’t seem to get a grip? Sometimes it seems like you are wearing your anger like a bright red t-shirt that says, “don’t mess with me today!” Everything feels annoying. Even the things that normally wouldn’t bother you are driving you up a wall. Days like this seem like they last for an eternity. The hardest part is, if you don’t handle yourself well, you can expect to have a follow-up day full of apologies and discouragement. Frustrating days are so frustrating! Hey, I get it, I have those days too. When I am in a mood and I don’t want to engage with the world, there are a few strategies that I try to remember so that I don’t have regrets afterward. These strategies for managing anger and frustration are what I will be sharing with you this week.
#1. Have a Plan
I have this code phrase that I use with my wife to let her know that I need some space. This code is “I’m having a cornered tiger day.” What I am saying is I am emotionally worn out, feeling backed up into a corner, having difficulty controlling my actions and/or words, and need to take a break so that I can recharge. Once I have had a few minutes to rest and figure out what is bothering me, I am usually able to jump back into things. Having an introverted nature, I believe it is wise for me to know when I need time alone to rest. During this time, I must remember that my goal is to get back into the thick of it as soon as I am able so that my wife isn’t left holding down the fort for too long.
#2. Take Responsibility for Ourselves
It’s tempting for me to blame others for times when I am in a funk. However, it’s during these times that I need to remember that I am responsible for my feelings and how I choose to act on them. It goes back to the concept of using “I statements” that we’ve discussed before. When I speak with others, I need to make it clear that I am not holding them responsible for how I feel or how I choose to respond to my feelings. I may have been hurt by what was said, but that does not give me a right to hurt back. If you find yourself saying things like, “If you would have…,” “if you didn’t…” or “you should have…” then it is time to consider who is taking responsibility for your baggage.
#3. Speak Truth to Yourself and Others
Don’t try to fool yourself or anyone else when you are off your game. Be real, be authentic. I’m not giving you permission to be a jerk, but I am encouraging you to say, “I’m not okay.” When you admit to yourself and others that something is wrong, then you can begin addressing the problem. The longer you hold onto the facade that you have it all under control, the more likely you are to be surprised when you lose control. Don’t keep it bottled up, and don’t talk poorly about your partner when she is not around. It’s one thing to get some advice from a trusted friend when we don’t know how to do the loving thing, but it’s another to talk trash about our partner to anyone that will listen.
#4. Get to the Root of the Problem
I may have mentioned this before, but one thing I have learned during my time as a counselor is that when we can’t overcome our fear, it tends to turn into anger. Here are some common fears that often manifest themselves as anger: fear of abandonment, fear of failure, fear of loss, fear of shame, fear of powerlessness, fear of inadequacy, fear of the unknown. Whenever there is a change in our life, we often feel one of these fears. By conquering our fears, we can turn what would be anger into strength. With all this said, instead of asking yourself “why am I angry?” the next time you blow a gasket, ask yourself “what am I afraid of?”
#5. Make Your Mark
When we are under stress, our minds burn the details into our memory. That’s why people describing a traumatic event can make it sound like they were experiencing it right in front of you. When we are upset, it tends to bring stress to the rest of the family. What we do during these times is going to be stored away in their memory. If this is true, then frustrating situations may provide us with a powerful opportunity to leave a positive mark in the lives of our family. What if, instead of lashing out in our anger, we demonstrated radical forgiveness and control? What would that say to the people we care about? What would happen if we did this consistently? I leave you to fill in the blank here.
I know that this isn’t the first time that I have brought up the topic of handling our emotions well and loving others when it is hard, but hopefully, this will give you some new strategies to use when anger starts rising up inside of you. If the post is a help to you this week or if you have any other good strategies you would like to share, please leave a comment.
Stay Rock Solid, Dads!