Anger is a waste of time |

Anger is a waste of time

In 1978, there was a television series illustrating a research scientist who had been overexposed to gamma radiation. When he got angry or lost control of his circumstances, his clothes would rip at the seams and he would grow into a powerful 7-foot-tall, green monster known as the Incredible Hulk.

It was easy to tell when he was angry because he was big and green. Unfortunately, we do not turn green and mean when we get frustrated or annoyed. Sometimes it is difficult for people to know they have just stomped on our last nerve.

We quietly stuff away aggravations so we do not have to deal with confrontation or take responsibility for our feelings, which eventually wreaks havoc in our lives, relationships and health.

Anger is an emotion that signals to us that something is wrong and needs attention. When you are angry it is time to STOP. Stoplights are red, and you’ve heard the saying “he was so mad he could see red.” Well, when you get so angry you can see red, stop. Don’t run through the anger light or there will be a crash. Somebody will get hurt, screamed or cussed at, or possibly even punched.

STOP stands for:

n STAND back

n TRACK the problem

n OPEN up

n PICK your battles

Stop what you are doing for a minute. If you have to, put up a sign in front of your desk that says “Be nice to me, I’m having sensitivities.” And watch as people leave you alone for a while.

STAND back is where you distance yourself emotionally from the thing or person that made you mad. We are all champions at solving other people’s problems; we are not so skilled, however, at solving our own. Standing back allows you to look at your challenge with an objective point of view.

TRACK the anger. What triggered it? What was going on in your life the minute you got upset? Are you under unusual stress? Have you underslept? Have you exercised and taken your vitamins today, or are you just a bundle of angry emotions trapped and looking for release?

Keep a note pad or a computer file of what is going on in your life when you feel like you are turning into an incredible hulk — revisit your file occasionally and you will see some interesting patterns emerge.

OPEN up is where you accept responsibility for your emotions and you address them, either personally or professionally, before they get out of control. Let’s assume it was your sister who verbally upset you. Opening up means you acknowledge a misunderstanding somewhere in your communication. Go back to her and say, “I need your help, I think I misunderstood what you said and it hurt my feelings. I’m sure you wouldn’t offend me on purpose — let’s start over again and I’ll listen this time as a friend.”

Opening up is being vulnerable and mature enough to apologize if you are the one who started the commotion.

PICK your battles. Life is too short to try to win 10 out of 10. Most battles, arguments and fusses are not worthy of your energy. Be OK with saying, “ah, he can win this one.” And choose when to take a stand. You will find that by selecting your wins carefully, others will respect your position and allow you to win too.

Anger management is about recognizing that STOP signal so you can regain control of your situation — turning into an ugly monster leaves regrets and ruins lives.

Angela Brown may be reached via e-mail at

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