Thursday, February 17, 2011

You Are Not Alone in This: Overcoming Anger and Frustration

If you had known me when I was in college and witnessed me being angry, you might have feared me or my anger. I was, not merely a yeller, but a thrower, too. Push me too far and I would pick up the first thing I could wrap my hands around and hurl it at your head. Just ask the trashiest girl from my college class whom I found hanging out in my boyfriend's dorm room one afternoon. Or my friend J.'s boyfriend who provoked me to throw my shoe at his head because he thought it would be funny to hold me upside down over a stairwell.

Don't worry. Anger gives you bad aim and the sane can duck really well, apparently. I don't remember ever making contact with anyone's head.

Over the years, I've learned to control my anger. I breathe. I think about the consequences of how I express my anger. Sometimes I stifle. I still get mad about stuff most people would let roll of their backs.

I hate noise. I hate being disrespected or ignored. I hate it when people act superior. I get mad and I rant and I yell.

I'm not proud of any of this and I've worked really hard to change, but I fell the need to continue growing in this area. I'm pretty much to the point where I only yell when I feel like one of the boys isn't listening or doing as they are told. Which is pretty much every day.

Obviously, this technique isn't working. In the last few weeks, I have found myself pausing when I feel the rush and swell of emotion rising up from my gut to my chest, the muscles in my arms and hands clenching. I pause and I ask myself if the situation really warrants that level of anger. Then, I take a breath and move forward trying to correct the situation without yelling. Sometimes I find myself talking through clenched teeth, especially when trying to get homework done each day with a child who would rather be doing anything other than homework, but for the most part I am acting rationally. Still, at this point, it's an effort, not my natural reaction. But, it's forward progress and a long way from the days I would get so angry I ended up in tears.

In thinking about how to change some of my behaviors, I found this post by Shannon at The Discipline Project. I like her simple approach, but fear it won't be that effective on me. Sadly, I don't usually hesitate to yell at my kids in front of other parents. I am who I am. I could pretend my mother-in-law was here, though. That might actually work. I do think it's the kind of idea that is profound in its simplicity and might actually work. A twist on it for me is to think about what God would say to me about my behavior and if I could proudly stand before God after yelling at my kids.

Whatever works. I am thankful to Shannon for the inspiration. It's always good to know there are others walking the path with you, reaching out a hand of hope and that you can in turn do the same one day. And as I remind myself every morning... Today is a new day and new opportunity to be the woman I want to be.


Jonathan Ross said...

Sometimes looking at your anger as constructive can help if u manage to keep it at a certain level.

Kids need to learn from us what anger is (apparently) so they can learn how to handle conflict. There is of course a world of difference between angry and out of control.

I very much doubt you ever feel out of control and knowing some of what you are dealing with sympathize that dealing with kids who you just want to listen and respond can spark angry feelings when they "ignore" you.

The truth is you are fighting the good fight and working to find better coping strategies, keep it up!

Jessica.B said...

Thank you so much for stopping by my blog & inviting me to stop by yours. This post is something that I can completely relate to. The only difference is that my son is only 18 months old. May be a tad bit harder for me because my son can no communicate well with me yet. Makes things a little more frustrating but still. I too have been trying to work on my anger. My son seems to be one of the only ones that can bring out the loudest in me. I wish you luck but I'm sure you can find what works for you. I'm just hoping the same for myself. lol...


Sarita said...

I too have anger issues and unfortunately the kids take the brunt of it! Thanks for posting. This morning I just put my head in my hands and cried out to the Lord. And I still yelled!

Dawn said...

Hi Dawn,

Anger is a mean emotion. I am pretty much laid back, but I do get angry when I find myself repeating myself over and over to my children to get dressed or brush their teeth. God made us with emotions, its how we control it that can lead to a good situation or bad.

Thanks for this post!

SuzRocks said...

I find I just really have to breathe deep, pray, and try to get some perspective. Sometimes I can get angry about the littlest things- and I realize that it's not that big of a deal.

Shannon said...

Thank you for reading my post and I'm so happy it gave you some food for thought. It's very hard for me to control my anger, so it's inspiring for me to hear that you've been there and are having some success! You're so right - it's good to know there are others walking the same path.