Anger as well as temper has been much too much a part of my earlier youth and manhood. In my latter years working with young folks with like problems I have thought much about this. A week ago I was at a cook- out on a bright Summer day enjoying myself along with my new friends Harold and Regina. Harold works in a halfway house for young teens that are incarcerated. These young men are being held in a nearby home where they are given much freedom. When Harold and Regina cook- out at an Indianapolis park Harold will bring some of these young folks with him to enjoy the day. I am most pleased that my new friends include me in these outings. The fact that the young men are also included makes the day even more enjoyable for me. During the day I am given the opportunity to talk and relate to these young somewhat troubled youths. I am not there with these teens as a mentor or teacher, yet I can’t seem to help myself from making an attempt to reach out to these teens, and perhaps because of my life experiences to aid them in some small way.
While making small talk with a young man I asked; “how are you doing?” His reply was; “I’m working on my anger management.” This is a buzz word that I have heard over and over the past number of years as I worked more directly with youths. While employed as a Life Skills counselor at a home for hard to place foster youths the term was thrown about by the individuals that came to the home. This was done by well meaning counselors in most cases having little practical life experience or knowledge. Many of the individuals that I met, and who from time to time worked along with at this foster group home were recent graduates from Ball State. Their method of teaching and aiding these very angry young folks was very bookish. Unfortunately, these methods are State approved and used within our educational systems as well as prisons. After leaving my work at this foster group home, I was employed as a prison guard at the maximum juvenile penitentiary where I saw more of the same. While employed as a sub teacher at various Indiana school systems the buzz words, anger management was thrown around like so much manna from heaven. To my observation in all these cases much of what they were taught, although correct in the cortex was not taken in by these youths to the degree that this process solved the anger problems of the youths. The youths attended anger management classes or private sessions given by well meaning counselors. The youths, as I observed, aped the proper answers back to the counselors, or did the same during written testing. Perhaps the greatest success, as again I saw it, was when these youths attended group meetings with other youths that had like problems.
Unfortunately, I did not see much of these group youth anger management sessions being held. It was not that this method of solving the anger problems of these youths did not help. The problem, as I saw it, was that it was short lived, and did not get at the root of these youths difficulties with the management of their anger and temper.
Today I can state that as a young individual that I was an angry youth who had a temper that too often was out of control. There came a time when I realized that my anger was unproductive, and at a later time I became aware that my temper was insanity. This is how I in a real life situation found out how not to manage anger and temper, but how to put them to work for me.
The definition of the word anger tells a story. Anger is a turbulently vexed emotion. The word vexed infers exasperation as well as being indignant. The word turbulent has to do with a moment uncontrolled. And what is emotion? Emotion may be pleasurable or unpleasant. What is true of it is that emotion is not founded on intelligent choice.
So there you have anger from the inside out, and from the outside in. The individual that has a problem with anger is exasperated about some cause true or not true. You don’t manage the cause true or not you understand who you are and what you desire for your life, what ever causes rage, wrath or whatever form your anger may take. Anger is turbulent much like a whirlwind is out of control. You don’t stop a whirlwind you find out from where it comes from, and make intelligent choices, not emotional choices on how to deal with it. Indignant you are right or wrong, and you might have good reason to be indignant. Yet how productive is that? Where does it get you being indignant? Fair or not fair where do I go from here? I could stay angry and fail. I could rage out of control at the situation that I find myself in, the reason for it, and at myself for being in the situation that causes my wrath. That was in fact the choice I made for a good part of my youth and teens. At that point I stopped attempting to manage or control my anger for I was clever enough to know that my anger was counter productive. What I did was face the facts that lay before me and decide on what am I to do from this time on. At that time I had the good fortune of having a wonderful, supportive teacher who allowed me to see that yes, it was unfair that I had to work so much harder with my school work and still failed much too often. Unfair it may be but what do I do now? She told me that if I have the will and courage to work through what stands before me in the long run I would not only win, but would be stronger because of it. Note that she used the word allow. In other words, it was my decision to make.
Once I understood the above, I didn’t have to manage my anger. I was no longer angry. The little bookish games that are taught our angry youth may fool the youth for a short time. For this limited time their anger may be somewhat under control and managed. It is so simple know where the whirlwind comes from, and set it aside. You are no longer angry, and therefor there is no need to manage it. Please note that I’m not saying play the pseudo-psycho game with some learned individual that desires you to rehash the unfairness of a situation which will only make you madder and more angry than you were before.
Now what about temper. As I stated above temper is an illness and takes the form of insanity. Temper manifest itself upon an individual in a physical manner as well as a mental one. A person in a fit of temper will show the result of this explosion on his/her face as well as other body parts. This was more true of myself when my temper was allowed to take control of me my muscles in my body became tort. They were like a spring loaded machine that when a lever was pulled would uncoil with greater than normal power. My face would tighten, and many times my eyes would water even tear. I would also shake. What this all amounted to was that within my temper was a great deal of energy that was being used in a very destructive manner.
Years latter, I understood more about what energy is from a scientific point of view. This understanding concerning energy came about to me as I became interested in physics, and the Laws of the Cosmos. It is enough to say here that energy is never depleted or destroyed it only takes other forms. An example of this is fusion. When two hydrogen atoms hit one another with great speed and force they fuse, yet weigh less than the total of the two individual hydrogen atoms. This is because energy is released and takes another form. At the time that I was in a wrestling match with what I had identified as my insanity, I became aware of this factor of energy even though at the time I did not know much concerning the physics of energy E=mc2. At this time of my life, it was enough to know that this energy was there, and I released it in the form of a most destructive temper.
It came to me that if I had all this penned up energy within me, why not use it in a productive manner instead of a negative and unproductive manner in the form of temper. Once I recognized this I started to work on the solution to my temper. I at that time knew where it came from and what it was and did. I had a very simple yet not an easy task before me. Take this vast energy and reroute it in sane and productive direction. After a time I did harness this energy and the temper problem had vanished almost one hundred percent. I still have the rest of my life to work on the few percentages of this energy that is being misused.
So what is the answer? Don’t eliminate the temper as such just harness it and allow it to work for you. Once that I did this I was amazed, yet not surprised about how much added mental and physical strength that I found within me. It is there for all to find after all it is a Law of the Cosmos.