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Anger Directment: A case study

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anger directment: a case study

I've been doing a little research on anger management. All this counting to ten and deep breaths seems good on the surface, but I don't buy it. If you repress whatever anger you are feeling at the moment, it will only come out a different - most likely inappropriate - time.

I think the better device to use is something I call Anger Directment. It's about making sure that the rage and frustration you are feeling is directed toward the part(ies) that have caused the feelings in the first place.

Sometimes, you curse and scream at the person driving next to you because you are in a mood. And sometimes, it's just because that person is an asshole. Former bad. Latter good.

Why should I repress my anger? Why should I push it deep down where it will only simmer and fester and then boil over long after the event that put the anger there in the first place has passed?

Let's invent a scenario.

You are at work. A co-worker stops by your office to chit-chat. You really don't like this person and have no desire to talk with them. Your dislike for them is valid; this person is a self-absorbed creep who looks down your shirt when you talk and is crude, demeaning, sexist and racist.

You are trapped at your desk as he stands in the doorway. In the space of two minutes he has managed to offend you three times and question your intergrity, work ethic and lineage.

Now, someone give me a good reason why I should count to ten and take a deep breath in this scenario. Why should I let this person run rampant over my feelings and let it go as if he did nothing wrong? And please, do not tell me to say something like "your words are making me feel angry" because a person like that would only scoff and laugh. And then he would walk away and I would spend the whole day stewing about what I could have said and should have said. By the time I leave work, I will be in a raging frenzy and I will take it out on the poor, unsuspecting souls who are on the road with me, which will only fuel my anger and by the time I get home I am ready to kick the neighbor's dog just to hear it yelp.

The scenario plays out much better if I call the guy a few choice names, tell him exactly what I think of him, and then throw a cup of steaming hot coffee at his crotch. My anger is relieved, my rage has dissipated and I made my point without being wishy-washy about it. And the masses that drive home the same way I do are spared my wrath. Works out for everyone!

Instead of trying to manage your anger, which is only therapist talk for supressing your feelings, you direct it at the right people. I mean, come on, a person who throws a beer bottle out the car window or says disparaging things about your family or assumes you want to crawl under his desk and service him just because you are female and he is male, well that person needs to be told in no uncertain terms how you feel about his behavior. That is called positive directive anger. Whether you kick him in the balls, or chase him down the hall with a flamethrower or hurl a string of curses at him that he has never heard before, it's all good. You are the better for it. When you are done you can sit back, relax, have a cigarette and praise yourself for releasing your rage at the right person.

If you hold it in and mutter some psychobabble to him about how your feelings are hurt and then you do your good breathing exercises, you will only find yourself kicking dogs later, pretending that the poor dog is your co-worker. That is negative directive anger. Bad.

Next time the person in front of you on the express line has 10 items over the expressly stated 6 items only, open up her laundry detergent when she is not looking. Then offer to help her bag her groceries, making sure that the laundry detergent is packed in the same bag as her grapes. You will feel better for it, trust me. As a matter of fact, you will chuckle to yourself all the way home and your good mood will last you well into the night.

Just follow the basic rule: If a person angers you to the point that you feel the familiar stirrings of animalistic rage building up inside you, count to ten. If, by the time you get to ten there is steam coming out of your ears, punch that person in the face. Anger released, situation settled.

Who needs $150 an hour therapy when you have me? Thank me later. Tell your dog to thank me, too.


I like to diffuse assholes with whatever combination of humor and stinging wit I can muster, often with a way of pushing their comments back in their face such that what they said is somehow applied back to them.

Sort of like Don Rickles meets Dennis Miller but spoken through Patrick Stewart.

Nothing like having someone respect you after you body slam them intellectually against their own pigheadedness.

$150 an hour therapy... no I can't afford that. Tried your tactic out on my boss and got sacked. I'll have to eat my dog to survive.


Glad I could be of assistance.

And don't worry, dog tastes just like chicken.

Hrm, Directive Anger Management vs. common sence. Yeah, the anger management wins.

Hey, I think I work with that guy too. You can kick him in the balls or punch him, but I'm afraid that he's only going to like it more, and you won't have let off any anger. In fact, it makes me more angry. Grrrr. The hot coffee in his face though, that might help..... I'm having a hard time being creative with him anymore.

Your Anger Management advice for free.
Tell everyone exactly what you are thinking when you are thinking it. Never bring emotions into the equation. Saying you hurt my feelings, just makes you an easy target for teasing. Point out the complete obvious always.
1. When repeating a conversation to someone else, only use facts, who said what that’s it, nothing else.
2. If you think they are a jerk say “you’re a jerk”. Follow up were you valid Victorian at the university of being an ass?
3. If someone who just bugs you at work tell them to “go away” or “stay the hell away from me”. Cold shoulder and silent treatment works well.
4. If someone is trying to “sneak a peek” embarrass them in a loud voice “what are you looking at you perv, go by a magazine”
5. If someone is insulting work which you know you have mastered. “Your job has got to be the most stressful job in the company, I am so grateful I don’t have to do your job.”
6. If you are insulted any other time put your foot down, stand up for yourself. “That wasn’t necessary!”
Bite your tongue to people you can not fire and perform a service to you. Such as maintenance people, if you live in a complex, you need them to fix your broken stuff

So Shelli, you are saying that I should put my AK47 away and stay away from the clocktower?

What's a valid Victorian?

I can pretty much speak from experience that directed anger management is effective. It's effectively why I don't currently have a job.

But, on the other hand, I am much happier with my integrity intact.

Amy, perhaps Charles Dickens?

"Sort of like Don Rickles meets Dennis Miller but spoken through Patrick Stewart."

yes!yes!yes! THAT'S who i wanna be!

my dog and i will thank you NOW. thank you. i spent too many years being afraid to speak up and saving stress for/venting on my family and stuffing my REAL feelings... it sucked. it takes a lot outta you to carry that shit around. i can't say i ALWAYS tell it like it is, but i know i'm not even CLOSE to the timid, repressed girl i used to be, NOT. EVEN. and i am SO much happier now ... WAY. :)

I bought bell hooks' Killing Rage because I felt like I needed help with my anger. The first chapter basically said, "Of course you're enraged. You should be enraged!"

I didn't need to read the rest of it. :)