Strange but true. I wish I could’ve met Aileen Wuornos before she was executed in 2002.
If you’re not familiar, Aileen was a prostitute who killed seven men in Florida between 1989 and 1990. Since her death, her tragic, fascinating and complex story has been told through documentaries, TV series and Charlize Theron played her in the movie – Monster – back in 2003.
Although I don’t condone or support the murders she committed and my heart aches for the families who suffered, there’s something about Aileen that I can relate to.
On some level and it’s hard for me to admit this, I can relate to her anger and rage.
When she’s being interviewed and someone mentions her family and her eyes start to bulge out of their sockets and you can literally see her blood boiling under her skin, there’s something about her reaction that I understand.
There have been times when I’ve been filled with unbelievable anger towards my family. I’ve felt rage towards my mom for being an abusive drunk, my stepdad for being a monster, my dad for always playing the victim and my stepmom for being mentally and emotionally destructive.
I’ve even felt that same level of contempt for my extended family. For all the years they stood by in denial and did absolutely nothing to help.
Anger is a complex issue and if ignored or unexpressed it can overwhelm your mental, emotional and even physical well being. In fact, studies have shown that chronic anger can lead to heart disease and even heart attack.
So if you’re looking for healthy suggestions on how to work through anger, today’s post has 3 fresh ideas for you to consider.
Look. I’m not claiming to be an expert on anger but I know, as someone with an abusive past, how painful it can be to deal with.
I relate to that conflicted feeling of not wanting to be angry and at the same time having no idea how to deal with it.
Once you’ve had a chance to read, I’d love to hear from you.
Have you ever been overwhelmed by anger? If so, how do you deal with it?
Share your thoughts and ideas with me in the comment section.
Remember, your voice, experiences and insights are vital to this community. And what you have to share is not only unique but it may be exactly what someone else needs to read. And that someone could be you.
Anger is a natural, human emotion. And unfortunately we can easily be shamed away from talking about it. Even though sharing our experiences with each other is a healthy way to deal with it.
And don’t worry, I monitor the comment section like a hawk and I will never tolerate any nasty or judgmental comments. No matter what, I got you!
I look forward to meeting you in the comment section!
Until Next Tuesday,
#1 Think Of Anger Like A Stinky Fart
This bit of advice came from one of my favorite yoga teachers, Graham.
I walked into class one day completely overwhelmed with rage. I don’t even remember what triggered the feeling but Graham took one look at me and knew something was up.
And when I told him what I was feeling he looked right at me and said, “Give your anger space.”
At the time I thought he was crazy. I thought if I gave my anger space that I’d completely lose control, end up hurting someone, and I wouldn’t be able to stop.
Even though I didn’t understand it at the time, Graham’s advice makes complete sense to me now.
Here’s what I think it means. Instead of reacting to anger or rage when it shows up, let it run it’s course. Give it all the space it needs in your body or in your head. Instead of panicking and stuffing your face with brownies, distracting yourself with alcohol, lashing out or pretending like it’s not there just let it take up space.
Just like a food or alcohol craving, the feeling will become less intense if you just give it some space and let it pass.
Or you could apply this idea by thinking about what happens when someone farts. For example, when you’re next to someone outside and they let one rip the smell is quite intense for a few seconds, maybe even minutes. But eventually the smell dissipates and you can breathe again.
But if you’re in a closed off room with someone who drops a bomb and there’s no ventilation what happens? The smell takes over the room and sticks to the inside of your nose.
The fart has no space to move. I know this is a ridiculous comparison but it’s one that will be easy to remember the next time you’re feeling angry and you want to try giving your anger some space.
#2 Figure Out Why You Flex
This next idea comes courtesy of my new kittens Little Mo and Birdie.
These two get along famously. But the other morning Birdie must’ve pissed Mo off because I looked over and Mo was in full fight mode.
Her back was arched and her tail was puffed up like a jumbo cotton ball. Yep, on your left, that’s a shot of Mo flexing.
After I separated the two of them and Mo calmed down, I jumped online to learn more about Mo’s reaction.
It turns out that cats adopt this angry stance when they feel threatened. And this got me thinking about how we humans react with anger when we feel threatened, hurt or even frustrated.
You see there’s usually something underneath the anger. And if you can get underneath the anger to figure out what that is, you’ll begin to understand what you need to do to work through that anger in a healthy way.
I could give you tuns of suggestions as far as things to do when you’re in an angry moment but to me that’s just like putting a bandaid on a broken bone.
Sure meditation, hitting the gym or journaling is helpful, don’t get me wrong. But I also think that when we’re talking about anger or any other emotional roadblock we need to also look for sustainable, long-term solutions.
So for example, let’s say you’re just furious with your alcoholic mother. You’re at the point where you’d like to just cut her out of your life but you’re not sure if that’s the right thing to do.
Now, cutting your mom out of your life could be an option and at the same time if you had a bit more clarity about why you feel that way you may be able to come up with another solution that wouldn’t feel as final and would help you come to terms with the anger you feel.
To get to the bottom of what’s going on it may be helpful to seek out professional counseling or even group therapy. Years ago, when I lived in Manhattan, I was part of a group for anger management. Sitting in a room full of other people that could relate to the issues I was struggling with was incredibly helpful.
#3 Make Friends With The Enemy
Anger is just one of those emotions that has a bad reputation. Regardless of our individual experiences, most of us have absorbed the message that anger is bad and expressing it is some kind of moral failing.
As a result, we shame ourselves for being angry and buy into the idea that all will be well once we figure out how to rid ourselves of the feeling.
Well brace yourself because I’ve got a news flash for you. You can’t get rid yourself of anger. As long as you’re alive you will get angry, you will feel anger and you will witness other people doing the same.
Just to give you an idea of how long anger has been around – Seneca, a Roman writer and Stoic philosopher was writing about it way back in the year 41 CE! So I think it’s safe to say that anger is here to stay.
Now, this doesn’t mean that you can’t learn to manage it. In fact this is a much more realistic and healthy goal to work towards. Believe me.
Remember it’s not about getting rid of the anger. It’s about getting a little better at dealing with it each and every day. And don’t worry, if you come from a dysfunctional family you will never run out of opportunities to practice.
Now, to wrap this bad boy up.
Anger is a complex topic and I realize that there are levels of anger and rage that people experience that are way beyond the scope of this short post. So if you have issues with rage or feel paralyzed by the weight of whatever you’re experiencing, please seek out professional help. You don’t have to go through it alone.