Tuesday, May 20, 2008

The Danger Zone

Anger is just one letter short of danger -- it seems to be true in English as well as in practice. Dr. Bedford Williams at Duke University has determined that students who score high on a "hostility test" are in far greater danger of dying young than their peers. In fact, those who are prone to anger are in greater physical danger than those who smoke, have high blood pressure or even high cholesterol.

Not that we should never be angry. It is a normal part of life. We all get "worked up," "overheated" or just plain "hopping mad" at times. Those closest to us know it best. (Just ask my kids!)

One little boy said about his mother: "When she starts to act real weird, you have to look scared and serious. Don't giggle. When mommies are mad, they get madder when you giggle."

The good news is that simply getting angry does not seem to be the problem. Well-directed anger can be a helpful emotion. But STAYING angry is dangerous -- to our health and to our relationships.

Here are four simple steps that can help move us out of the danger zone when we feel as if our hostility is running the show.
  1. Control it. Uncontrolled anger will take over.
  2. Talk it out. Don't keep it in and let it fester.
  3. Act on it. Do what needs to be done to resolve the situation. Helplessness will only provoke more anger and, eventually, despair.
  4. End it. Just as there is a starting point for anger, there must be an ending. Make a decision not to prolong destructive hostility.
It can help to remember that for every minute we're angry, we lose sixty seconds of happiness and sixty seconds of peace. The sooner we get out of the danger zone, the sooner we can get back to truly living.

-- Steve Goodier

Image: flickr.com/txmx 2


Sarah said...

This is so true and it is always good to be reminded espically for those of us that tend to hold grudges. we should never let anger rule or run our lives we all have to much to live for.

Merrlyn said...

I think 'controlling anger' is not the way to go unless you have a strategy. I've been an angry person since I was a little girl -- would get so angry I would pass out and fall asleep. Trying to 'control' it just make me angrier, deep down inside. My face would be deadpan, but I would smolder and the littlest thing would set me off.

But learning to discern the differences between 'proper' anger and prickliness was key; so was learning to pick my battles. Some things are just not worth getting steamed up over. When I feel it's something important enough to confront, I first step back to 'control' my anger. I try to make certain that my words are neither derogatory nor inflammatory, but make my grievances clear. I attempt to keep blame out of the equation, thereby opening the door for discussion or solutions.

This was not easy to do and it's taken many years of practice. I'm still working on it, as time, practice and MUCH advice has had me tweakin' and fixin' my approach. But it HAS gotten much easier.

Anonymous said...

cxIt's always easier said than done, but like marlene, I'm also learning and working on how to deal with my anger. It's just that sometimes, it's really hard to contain it and just let something pass, especially if it has something to do with respect and/or trampling on other people's shoes.

Yet, one thing I do, when I am not able to face the person I'm angry with and tell it straight to his/her face, I write him/her a "love letter". That's one way I get my point across and patch things up. I'm quite doing that often these past days. I just hope it yields good results.