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Dealing with anger

By Nathan Rice

The first post I saw when I opened the social media app made me pause. I couldn’t believe what I was reading, so I read it a second time. I hadn’t misunderstood the post. It really did say what I thought it said when I first scanned the words. The post made me angry, and the more I looked at the post, the angrier I became.

We’ve all experienced times when someone made us angry. It’s an unfortunate part of life. Since we all know that people will make us angry at some point, shouldn’t we prepare for these times?

There’s some old advice that still holds true when it comes to dealing with anger, and heeding this advice is a great first thing to do when we feel anger rising within us. Counting to 10 may seem like a cliché or something that we just tell children to do when they get angry, but it is a wise step for all of us to take.

There’s nothing special about the number 10, and counting numbers doesn’t have some magical therapeutic component to help deal with anger. Counting to 10 is merely a way to delay our response to the anger we are feeling.

We too often respond quickly when we become angry, not giving any thoughts to our words and actions. These quick responses rarely help the problem and often cause things to get worse. We should give ourselves time to calm down and consider our response before we react. The wisest response when we become angry is a delayed response, and we may need to count to more than 10.

This delay in reaction also allows us to consider if our anger is appropriate or not. We’ve all seen news stories of people getting angry and losing their temper over insignificant things like an incorrect fast food order. We laugh at those stories, but many people react similarly over things that don’t really matter but do not take their behavior far enough to make the news.

There are times when we get angry, but our anger has been misplaced. Sometimes our emotions have built up over time, and we end up taking our anger out on things or people that weren’t really the cause of our feelings. We should use the delay in the reaction to our anger to determine if our anger is appropriately placed.

We must be careful when we are angry, even when we determine that our anger is justified. Anger can cause us to do some things that we would not otherwise consider doing. Allowing anger to take control is extremely dangerous. It can be difficult, but we have to learn how to control ourselves when emotions run high.

Some seem to think that being angry allows us to react however we wish. This is not the case. How we respond when we are angry displays our character; it is not a reflection of the person who caused us to become angry. We must ensure the way we react reflects the person we want to be.

I’m still angry at the person who placed those words on social media, and I believe I’m justified in my anger. Responding to the post, however, would not have accomplished anything, so I just scrolled past the infuriating message. I’m glad I’ve worked to prepare myself for situations like the one I encountered. I’m happy that my anger did not control me and that my reaction mirrored the person I want to be.

 

Nathan Rice is a Hampton Roads native and can be reached at nrice@abnb.org.