How nice the world would be if we all learned how to control our anger. No road rage, heated arguments, verbal or physical abuse, or murderous rampages.
We’d eat less crow, have fewer regrets, and our overall health would be better.
Yeah, it looks nice on paper- but how do we tame our tempers?
Can anger really be managed?
Yesterday it was warm, so my teen boys went for a rare treat – a winter bike ride through the neighborhood. Things quickly soured when my tender hearted gentle giant 16 year old innocently passed a school bus while trying to catch up to his older brother.
Mr. I hate kids and I’m sick of you people not obeying the rules of the road decided to pursue my son and give him some education. My boy is literally riding in the gutter (no sidewalks) when the school bus driver blares on the horn, opens the door and yells out (bus is still full of our neighbor’s kids). “Hey, don’t you know you can’t pass a stopped school bus? It don’t matter if my stop sign isn’t out. If my lights are on you stop, you got it?” Yes sir, I am very sorry sir, it won’t happen again. My son came home and was sad for the rest of the evening. He was ashamed of himself for not stopping. He cried on my shoulder as we talked about it. Afterwards, he felt better and went to bed. But I couldn’t let it go. I stewed, and the anger swelled in my gut.
I woke up this morning with one thing on my mind. Justice. It was really revenge. I pictured the scene in my mind and plotted. At exactly 3:10 I’d be waiting at the bus stop. I’d stage a small distraction, blend in with the kids, and as they filed off the bus I would sneak on and hide in the back. Cheech the school bus driver was in for a big mama surprise. I could hardly wait.
My fantasy surprisingly satisfied my desire for vengeance, and I decided on a more rational solution – I called the district’s transportation office. The manager politely listened and then humbly apologized and assured me she would speak to the driver. His message may have been right (bikers need to follow the same rules as other moving vehicles), but his delivery sucked.
Was I surprised at my anger at such a small wrongdoing? Did I overreact? Were my feelings justified? Will I ever be able to kiss anger goodbye?
Yes x 3. But, anger is part of being human. If we always stayed emotionally neutral, that could prove just as bad. Beware the fury of a patient man. The key is to learn how to recognize anger, and manage it. I shudder to think what kind of trouble I’d be in now had I followed through with my wacko vigilante plan. All it takes is a moment of madness to yield a lifetime of sadness.
Work with me. Let’s harness our anger, and learn to direct it for good.
Here’s 10 tips for taming tempers: