Sunday, October 08, 2006

Too Much Anger?

Not to state the obvious, but it seems that uncontrolled anger is often involved when we get ourselves into serious trouble. Many years ago I stupidly "flipped a bird" at a crazy driver who was dangerously tailgating me - whereupon he proceeded to chase me erratically for forty miles down a highway (no cell phone to call 911). He tried to force me to the roadside where I suppose he was going to inflict some kind of injury. When he was close enough for me to see him his head seemed to be the size of a beach ball accentuated by a broken nose, and my instincts told me that he would enjoy a fight. By using his car like a weapon, and acting psychotic I wasn't about to engage this creep who may have carried some sort of weapon. That was one of the more frightening incidents in my life, and all because I couldn't restrain myself from using a silly one finger gesture towards an ignorant driver.

I recall playing golf one time during a frustrating round, and after chunking a ball off the tee into a water hazard I hurled my errant golf iron into said water hazard. My iron would never have reached the hazard under normal circumstances, but the extra anger adrenaline resulted in a mighty heave. After fishing around for the iron a while, and not finding it, I proceeded down the fairway. Later, I happened to look back toward the hazard to see some young hooligans pulling my iron out of the hazard, and running gleefully into the woods with it. At least that silly episode only cost me embarrassment, and the cost of replacing a golf club.

On one occasion in an airport after returning from vacation my wife and I were confronted with a rude customs officer. I made a sarcastic, angry remark after one of his questions rubbed me the wrong way. He then proceeded to make us open all of our luggage, and go through each of our vacation purchases in painstaking detail ultimately deciding to charge us duty because by his estimation we had exceeded our exemption. My wife gave me a look that would have frightened a jedi knight as once again my anger had created an avoidable situation.

These situations were minor compared to other life changing events that may have been compromised by my foolish anger. I am sure others can recount similar experiences in their lives, and perhaps some that resulted in dire consequences. Of course knowing this doesn't make it any easier to control rage, but who would disagree that we could all live longer, happier, and healthier lives by keeping our anger in check, and learning how to release it in a measured fashion? There is significant research evidence that being an angry or hostile person puts your heart at risk.

There is an excellent web site that discusses anger, anger management, and strategies to keep anger at bay called Controlling Anger.

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