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Anger and a Desire to Change

Tuesday, June 04, 2013
By John Goetz, M.Ed. L.P.C.

Irritated, annoyed, ticked, hot, enraged and frustrated . . . these are but a few of the words we use to describe anger. Webster's states that anger is a feeling of displeasure and usually of antagonism. According to the America Psychological Association, anger is an emotional state that varies in intensity from mild irritation to intense fury and rage. These definitions agree that anger is an emotion and, like other emotions, it is accompanied by physiological and biological changes in our bodies. When an individual experiences romantic love, the pupils dilate, the pulse quickens, and the person may even perspire. When someone experiences anger, the heart rate and blood pressure rise, levels of adrenaline increase, and the body is ready for action. The question is, What action does an individual take?

In a previous article I described a law of human behavior, respondents lag operants or feelings follow behavior. Anger is a feeling:, thus, according to the law, it must follow a behavior or an action. Actions can be changed and/or modified. An excellent article by the America Psychological Association that provides specific strategies for doing this can be found at www.apa.org, Controlling Anger Before It Controls You. I would like to share with you a piece of wisdom found in a poem written by Portia Nelson that may just make a difference in whether a person chooses to make a change in his/her life using these strategies or whether he or she chooses to be controlled by anger.

Autobiography in Five Short Chapters

I walk, down the street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I fall in.
I am lost . . . I am hopeless
It isn't my fault.
It takes forever to find a way out.

I walk down the same street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I pretend I don't see it.
I fall in again.
I can't believe I am in the same place.
But, It isn't my fault
It still takes a long time to get out.
I walk down the same street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I see it there.
I still fall in . . . it's a habit.
My eyes are open.
I know where I am.
It is my fault.
I get out immediately.

I walk down the same street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I walk around it.

I walk down another street.

If your temper gets the best of you, if in your anger you verbally or physically hurt the ones you love the most, my Christmas wish is that you may recognize the street, see the hole, take responsibility and work to find another path to walk down.

(John Goetz is a Licensed Professional Counselor at Edmond Family Services 341-3554)
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