It's Your Heart Attack!
Have you ever been so upset at someone that you’ve actually felt physically ill? Tight chest, pounding headache, shaking? If so, then Anger took you hostage. Or more like, RAGE! Chronic and explosive anger can cause a host of physical and psychological problems. For instance, it can affect your immune system, leaving you open to a host of traveling bugs. It can cause your blood pressure to soar, your head to pound; it can drain your energy to where you feel complete and utter fatigue. Doesn't sound pretty, does it? Anger can consume you to the point where you can't focus on your daily tasks. You may even have an ongoing thought-pattern loop playing constantly in your mind about whatever or whomever made you so mad, causing untold havoc with your psyche.
Newsflash: People are going to upset and disappoint you; they will make you angry, especially if they’re not doing what you expect them to do, OR, doing the very thing you don’t want them to do.
You cannot control anyone. Isn't it hard enough to control yourself? What you can control is how angry you become and what you let it do to you. Some anger is healthy, if addressed in the right way. What I'm talking about is more about the surge of energy that takes you over to where you can't even see straight. Extreme anger can blind you and deafen you. I had a client once who became so angry at her landlord that as she was driving to see him, she stepped on the gas instead of the brakes and crashed into her apartment building.
It doesn’t have to be this way. You can’t always avoid the people who upset you, but you can control how you react to those people. Here are some things you can do to prevent the Anger/Rage to take hold:
1) Don't let it build up. If something is bothering you, don't wait until you're ready to explode to bring it up. It's like doing dishes, wash them as they come, don't wait a week to wash a million dirty dishes. If you address the issue right away, you'll avoid a great deal of pain.
2) Don't start off with a yelling match. Have you ever been able to get your point across while yelling? I highly doubt it. People will just focus on your crazy eyes, the spittle coming out of your mouth, and your wild hand gestures. Don't yell!
3) Talk about the real issue. What's at the heart of the argument? Was it really the breadcrumbs left on the counter, or the fact you've been feeling taken for granted?
4) Don't engage. Some people may actually try to get you to notice how upset they are by sulking, giving you the silent treatment, pushing your buttons, passive-aggressiveness. Don't fall for it!
5) Listen to your body. If the surge of energy is tightening around your heart, stop and take a deep breath, then relax whatever tightness you're feeling. Don't hold on to it. If you do, it can easily take complete possession. Try these ideas:
A) Take a break and go for a walk.
B) Say, "It looks like we're both really upset and losing focus. What's this really about?"
C) Realize that not everyone is going to behave in the way you want them to. Give up the idea of controlling them.
D) Talk it out calmly and then LET IT GO.
If you don’t want to end up in the ER with chest pains, don’t let anger be your companion. It is not worth your health. Your life.