So far in this after actions review of my temper tantrum, I’ve uncovered some useful information to help me in the future.
I now realize that, more than anything else, should-ing on myself led straight into my temper tantrum. For some reason, I think I wanted Eddie, my 13-year-old, to hear how angry I was. I wanted to express my anger to SOMEONE. Very unfortunately, I did not express my anger in a good way.
Instead, I talked loudly to myself while storming around and even topped off my show by kicking something. If no one had been home, this immature physical acting-out may have been okay, no harm-no foul. But Eddie was there. I forced my anger into his space, purposely, without considering his perception, his feelings…until the last second, but by then the damage was done.
I’m stymied in choosing which question to answer. Why did I want an audience? Why did I act out? Why did I purposefully stay in the room into which my child had “escaped”? Why did I allow my frustration to overcome my knowledge of how to better handle anger? Why did I misdirect the expression of my anger at one child onto the other? Why did I misdirect my anger at myself onto my children in the first place?
How to Handle My Anger
I could get lost in the labyrinth of questions and lose focus on the objective. What is the objective again? Oh yes, to prevent this ugliness, this abuse, from happening again.
1. I will pay attention to what my inner critic is saying (for now, by paying attention to the feelings of frustration, futility, anger) and work through the critic’s accusations before acting. This critic has taken control of my thoughts, and in doing so, has become an unreliable source of information about myself. I want to get my critic in check so I can rely on her to tell me when I’m right or wrong in the future. Right now, my critical voice is too powerful.
2. If I feel the need to storm around and work out some frustration physically, I will do so in a room with pillows and ALONE. I am my anger’s first judge, first observer. I am the first audience for my anger. I am the first person who gets to hear how I’m feeling, not an innocent bystander, not even the person I think I’m mad at.
3. After the intense feelings dissipate, then I can decide who I want to express my anger to or decide if I still want to express it at all. Maybe in the calm, I’ll discover that I’m only angry at myself, and that can be handled without confrontation.
Feeling Something “Wrong”
In the end, thinking through my anger, whether directed at myself or another, at the first sign that “something is wrong” is the only way to prevent my anger from escalating into bad behavior. It’s the only way to ensure that angry mistakes do not become sources of guilt, shame, and pain.
I feel a little let down at this point. When I started writing about my temper tantrum, I had thought that the tantrum itself would hold the secret to my problem with anger. What I’ve discovered is that the tantrum itself is nothing but the culmination of bad choices.
Slowly, a realization is creeping into my mind. What is it?
I Do Have the Power to Control Myself
Oh my. I have the power to control my self. No one but me controls my reactions or my actions. I have power. Up to this point, deep down, I’d thought I was powerless. But going through this incident, step by step, has convinced me that I am powerful.
All I have to do is pay attention to the emotions I experience. The emotions I experience. If I feel anger, I must honor it not by reacting to it, but by feeling it. Stopping, and feeling it, then CHOOSING how to handle it. I have the power to control my self, and I never have to give that power away to anyone.
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