I have an anger management problem that has gotten worse in the last couple of years, and the problem is centered around my kids. I get angry and I stop listening to my better self – some beast underneath seems to take over. Then of course I get angry at myself for being so angry, for storming around and yelling, so then I’m even angrier. I end up just having to get away and that is sometimes hard to do. It’s hard for my more reasonable, kind, and gentle self to re establish control.
I’ve found one plan that is helping me get that control back, just a little. When I start to feel a flash of anger, I simply put my hands in the air. A few things happen when I do this. Number one, I feel like an idiot. Number two, my kids ask me why my hands are in the air, and number three, I really want to get them back down right away. All of these, however, are things different from anger, and that helps.
In the past, I’ve also done push-ups when trying to change a behavior, but that can be difficult in all situations. But even if my hands are full I can get at least get one hand in the air. It gives me a marker of my anger (how many times did I raise my hand today?), an action that I can do to feel more in control, and distraction to help me cool down. It is also a neutral action – it doesn’t reinforce my sense of myself as bad or out of control. It makes me take myself a little less seriously.