Back in the 70s, when someone was ‘losing their cool’, one would say ‘cool it man’. ‘Keeping one’s cool’ was a way to describe how a person managed their anger. These days, people go to anger management classes to help deal with their lack of self-control when it comes to anger.
Hollywood movies are full of anger as either the primary theme, or subtheme. Some movies deal with it directly like the comedy ‘Anger Management’ or ‘Madea Goes to Jail’. Others deal with anger management through a character’s life challenges, such as in Star Wars where Luke struggles to keep from going to the dark side of the force by not letting into his anger and rage.
The reason it’s so pervasive in the movies is because it’s something that’s universal to us all. We all deal with controlling the anger in our lives. If we can’t get a control of it, it could destroy our life, and, hurt many of those closest to us.
My mother was never a smoker, but there were a few times when she did light one up. Those were the ‘count to ten and walk around the house’ moments. As a child, I wasn’t always a saint (if you know what I mean), and when I wasn’t, she would try the yardstick on my backside. Sadly, that didn’t always work because I would think it was funny and laugh.
Now, I don’t know about you, but laughing at your parent when they are trying to discipline you, isn’t really a good idea. I remember the first time she took that time-out. I had laughed and, instead of beating me to a pulp, she chose to open a secret drawer, pull out a lighter and a pack of cigarettes, then go outside.
I looked out the window and saw her walking around the house smoking that cigarette. When she finally came back in, enough time had gone by for me to feel remorseful and for her to get in control of her emotions. In the end, I apologized, and she hugged me. All was good in the world again.
It wasn’t the pack of cigarettes that solved the problem. It wasn’t her letting her emotions get out of control in the situation that solved it, no, it was her taking her emotions out of the situation that brought the peace.
I don’t get the Mrs. angry often, but when I do, I make sure I do a really good job. Unlike her, I am the one to push for resolution right away. I want to ‘talk it out’. Not the Mrs. She wants to take a break, get a hold of her emotions (before killing me), and then talk after she’s calmed down. Over time, I’ve learned to adjust to her needs there because I didn’t want to go to the hospital… (kidding).
The truth is, relationships are messy. And, if there are trust issues, money issues, children issues, or just personality differences that drive us crazy over time, anger will present itself. For some, anger is a means to control the other person, or people, in their life. If they scream loud enough, then others will get the point and submit. Or, if they yell and throw things, maybe then they’ll understand how upset they really are.
Then, there are those who, because of substance abuse, become monsters while under the influence barely remembering what they did or said. Sadly, I have scars from both the emotionally manipulative type who used anger to control and the substance abuser whose anger was out of control. Both were equally hurtful and destructive.
I will also be the first to admit that I’m right there with millions of others in saying that anger is something I’ve failed with controlling at times. More so in my younger years, however. As I’ve aged, I’ve learned that some things just aren’t worth it, and that wisdom, love, and forgiveness overcome many wrongs.
So, how do you manage anger? Is it by screaming and shouting, or, holding it all in? Repressed anger will find its way out, eventually. Whether it’s through impulsive eating, drinking, or just being cranky.
For me, sometimes it may be biting my lip and responding in love. Or, emotionally letting go enough to walk away all together. Sometimes, playing the occasional video game helps or just talking things through with the Mrs. about a situation in my life that I’m wrestling with.
Of all the ways to deal with anger, bar none, the very best has been taking it to God in prayer. I may even have to cry out in tears to get that anger out, but, having Him in my life allows me to lay it at His feet where He won’t judge and where He will understand. He may even lovingly let me know I need to change and be the one to apologize.
Letting that anger out in a healthy way, ‘keeping cool’, will save us years of pain, our children or spouse years of pain, and, in the end, we may just look back and laugh at why we were angry in the first place. I’ll leave you tonight with a clip of Madea talking to Dr. Phil in a court appointed anger management session about her anger issues. I find it funny because, if anyone has anger issues, it’s Madea, but she won’t admit it for anything!...