One of my dearest relatives has explosive anger issues. Persons who experience frequent bouts of explosive anger may also be referred to as ‘rage-aholics’. These folks are addicted to rage like alchohol.
In most ways, these people are models citizen. He puts money in the Salvation Army bucket. She obeys traffic laws. He’s kind to the elderly. The rage-aholic has periods however, when some sort of primtive lower life form emerges. Gentle, wise sophisticated Dr. Jekyll becomes raging, neanderthal Mr. Hyde.
Really, though, when I think about it, I’m being unfair lower life forms and neanderthals. I’ve never seen an ant burst out in a rage of anger. Ants, as with all lower life forms, see quite placid and civilized. And who am I to say that our neanderthal relatives were raging beasts?
But I digress. To what can I liken a rage-aholics mercurial temper? Certainly not a bloody ‘summer day’! We’ve just had another bout of The Temper. Tonight’s episode # MCMXII: The Missing Socks. I’ve lived through these rages nearly all of my life and have made many mistakes along the way.
If you live with periodic eruptions of Mt. St. Husband (or wife, child, etc.) in your home, I’ve noted a few thoughts to see you through until the lava flow has cooled. Please note that these sartorial comments apply only to rage-aholics who are all bark and no bite. If you live with anyone who is physically abusive, please, seek help.
First. Do not try to determine what set him off. This can be something as earth-shattering as not being able to find his toothbrush. He naturally assumes we’ve -run off with it’. I don’t often ‘run off’, let alone with something sticky and wet that’s been in someone’s mouth.
Second. Do not take responsibility for another’s meltdown. If you scurry around trying to solve the ‘problem’ plan on being held responsible for every lost shoe and car that won’t start. Everyone misplaces things, runs late and experiences problems. We each need to shoulder our own problems without expecting others to suffer the backlash.
Third. Do not respond to rudeness, demands, shouting, berating, bullying etc. unless you want to make a lifelong hobby of it. You are not responsible in any way to anyone who heckles or harasses you. Most of us cannot respond to an angry person without
a) becoming angry in return
b) suffering emotional damage
Fourth: Do you believed like so many of us, that foolish old maxim ‘sticks and stones can break my bones, but names shall never hurt me.’ ? Starting now forget that you ever heard that ridiculous saying. Of course words hurt. Words hurt deepest and longest of all wounds. You have my permission to ignore cruel mean things said to you.
Fifth. Leave the scene of the temper tantrum. If you have small children, take them into their rooms away from the angry storm. Close the door. Read to them. Play music. Play a game. Do not get involved or allow young ones to suffer from vitriolic words. Try to diverge your attentions to positive things so that you can all remain calm (and emotionally safe). T
If leaving the scene is not practical or feasible, put on headphones or plug in your IPod. This will help you not to hear angry words and become distressed yourself. If the person yelling is in authority over you and does not permit ear phones, remember that you have the right to peace of mind. If someone in authority over you is not able to control their temper, your emotional health comes first.
Last. Stay calm. Not for the sake of the rage-aholic; he’s past help. It’s not your job to be a lion-tamer. You job is to survive. If you can stay calm through an angry outburst, it much healthier for your and those who depend upon you. Pat yourself on the back for every temper tantrum you have come out clean from.
This may be difficult to believe, but as you learn to cope with others’ anger issues and remain healthy, you are developing stamina and great strength of character. Good for you. Like Red Green says, ‘Keep your stick on the ice. I’m pullin’ for ya. We’re all in this together.’