In The Avengers movie, Bruce Banner turns to Captain America and says, “that’s my secret, Cap, I’m always angry,” and I felt that in my core. Recently, I have had an underlying rage simmering beneath the surface. It’s a slow boil waiting to emerge when called upon. It’s the culmination of perceived slights throughout my life coupled with current events that seem to creep up at the most inopportune moments. It is my inner Hulk wanting to emerge and “smash.”
Anger is a common feeling. Most people can relate to it, and all of us have triggers that make us angry. Feelings of being threatened or attacked or feelings of powerlessness will cause anger. Being mistreated or slighted in someway or disrespected by those we care about will also provoke a response that is the complete opposite of sunshine and rainbows. Here’s the thing though – how we feel is based on how we interpret the situation. And, our feelings are our own. For example, I become enraged when I feel disrespected or slighted; a lack of empathy will trigger my anger in a nano-second. Maybe you are the same. But, to someone else, the choice of words that led to MY feelings of disrespect may not affect you at all. I’ve written before about how we interpret life through our own personal lens. So, why does my anger seem to live just below the surface ready to emerge like the Hulk lately? I’ve come up with a few reasons:
- I’m sensitive to criticism. Being out of work has led me to feel judged and not valued. Combine that with the stress of paying bills, and you can see that Coronavirus has upended my life. I feel powerless to change it and am extremely angry about it.
- People have their own problems, so I keep my feelings bottled up. I don’t talk about it but being a stepmom is hard, and there are limited resources. Blended families while founded on the premise of love, are not always bred with love. There are extenuating circumstances to every blended family. Without a foundation of love from all sides, difficult situations become the source of anger and frustration. I am angry that I failed at being a stepmom even though the circumstances were never in my favor.
- Anger makes me uncomfortable. Physically, at 48 years old, my body is changing more than it has since I was a teenager. Perimenopause is a true physical change in the body that has emotional and physical symptoms just like puberty. Remember being an angry teenager? Society accepted your anger. Society has very different expectations though for a 48 year old woman.
Before I go on, I’d like to provide some context. I’m 5′ tall and range between 115 to 120 lbs. I am by no means a physical representation of the Hulk. I’m more like a Pomeranian – really loud but you could easily pick me up and move me to another room if needed.
Let’s explore some of the typical recommendations to handle anger:
- Breathe. We can all agree that breathing is good. But, when was the last time you actually stopped and thought about your breathing? For me, it’s when I’m working out and the instructor says, “Remember to breathe.” When you’re angry, are you REALLY going to stop and remember to breathe? In my experience, it is only after the Hulk has emerged that I think to breathe. At that time, it’s too late.
- Express your anger before it becomes overwhelming. This assumes that I am consciously aware of my anger before the big green guy emerges, and that I am also comfortable telling people how I feel. (I’ll refer to you to the list above, the second item). This is not going to happen.
- Give yourself a time out. Confession – I wasn’t good with timeouts for my daughter. I truly suck at them for myself. The timeout process gives me more time to fester on my perceived slight. It replays itself over and over again. And now, I have further bottled up my emotions with no outlet. Remember when the Hulk was encapsulated in The Avengers: Ultron? That didn’t work out so well either.
- Exercise – regularly and often. This one works for me. It is my saving grace. Regular exercise has so many benefits, but relieving my anger and frustration is one of the best. A good kick boxing session helps clear my mind and focus my energy. A high intensity yoga flow will help me feel grounded and sane. A walk or run will clear my head. Exercise helps me mentally and physically. Plus, I am convinced that it is the fountain of youth.
I can debunk every theory and helpful tip, with the exception of exercise because it’s the only one that has historically and consistently worked for me. No one wants to see a crazy Pomeranian acting like the Hulk. It’s laughable! I have found that identifying the why works better for managing my anger before I become a green, fluffy furball. Couple it with a positive coping mechanism, and like the Hulk in Endgame, I can merge them together to make myself a better person. I don’t always succeed though. At the end of the day, while I understand the Hulk, I am not a character with a written script. I am a person trying to navigate the world along with 7 billion others. I fall down, get up and try again.
I hope this was helpful. How do you manage your anger? Let me know in the comments below. And, if you liked this post, please click the “start” below, subscribe to my email list and share with your friends.