Ducks, dishtowels, and doorbells: one wouldn’t think they’re connected to anger in any way. Cake, on the other hand, is a no-brainer: when upset, eat some. Plain and simple. No one can be angry when stuffing their mouths with a confectionary delight topped with butter cream icing and sugar roses. Yum! As tempting as it may sound to consume a sugary treat when angry that’s actually not what I’m suggesting. Let me explain.
Anger is a feeling of powerlessness. Feeling helpless makes us feel weak and vulnerable. In an attempt to protect ourselves from harm, we may respond by becoming defensive. Anger, regardless of how it is used, is a very powerful force and momentarily satisfies that need. In those incidences where anger actually manifests we need techniques, comparable to the SWaT Strategy*, to quickly and effectively manage it. However, there are occurrences where anger does not manifest yet the situation still garners our attention.
How, then, can we can prevent ourselves from using anger as a response in any given situation?
1. Dead as a Doorbell: How many of you remember door-to-door salesman? They would climb the steps of your front porch, ring the bell, and once you answered try to convince you that what they were selling was exactly what you needed. Sometimes, the homeowner would surrender and spend money on something they may not have wanted, only to become angry and dismayed at the salesman for the intrusion into their domain or for not being strong enough to resist their pitch. One solution could be to simply ignored the persistent, annoying buzzer or another is to disconnect the doorbell entirely. In that way, the salesperson could press the buzzer for eternity and elicit no transaction. The homeowner does not react because they are disengaged from the actions of the salesman. One can train themselves to remain emotionally detached (not unlike doctors in an ER) and not react to an otherwise annoying or bothersome situation.
2. The Great Duck and Dishtowel Debate: Get a large bowl. In it, place a washcloth and a small rubber duck. Pour water (which represents life experiences) over both and observe what happens. The dishcloth absorbs the water and it’s added weight causes it to sink to the bottom of the bowl. The duck, on the other hand, allows the water to roll off it’s back, thereby staying afloat. In life, we choose to absorb our experiences increasing the risk of drowning in our own anger. Or we can mimic a duck and stay afloat by allowing them to simply roll off our backs. Simple image, powerful message.
Now on to the cake:
3. The Big Birthday Blowout: The next time you feel anger begin to emerge, take a moment and stop what you are doing. Imagine it’s your birthday. Envision the birthday cake of your dreams down to the smallest detail. Place the appropriate number of candles on the cake. In your mind, light each one. Then, take a deep breath, hold it, and before exhaling, sing (to yourself) the Happy Birthday song. Mentally blow out one candle. Repeat until each wax decoration is extinguished. Depending on your age, you may hyperventilate and pass out before you’ve completed this assignment (if you’re as old as I am!). So you may want to substitute a child or grandchild’s age for safety reasons. In any event, by the time all of the candles are snuffed out, you will have either 1) forgotten what you were upset about, 2) put it into perspective and realized it’s lack of significance, or 3) become too exhausted to deal with it. Either way, you’ve prevented a melt-down and a potentially unfavorable outcome. The situation can always be addressed at a later date when you have given yourself ample time to think things through logically and unemotionally.
Having struggled most of my life with anger, (from suppressing it to raging, back to suppressing, and finally finding peace with my surroundings) I realized that 99.99% of what we get upset about has relatively little importance. Address what you must, ignore what is trivial, accept that which you cannot nor or must not change, save the anger for the really big stuff (which is almost nil) and be at peace with the outcome. You’ll enjoy life a whole lot more.
*SWaT Strategy from The Secret Side of Anger , order your copy below
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