May 29, 2024
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Linking Northern and Central NJ, Bronx, Manhattan, Westchester and CT

I recently sent someone a long email expressing my frustration about something, and his entire response was, “Maybe you should write an article about anger management.” And it wasn’t even an angry email. It occurred to me only afterward that it may have come off as angry because I forgot to break it up into paragraphs.

But really? That response hadn’t even addressed any of my frustrations. Oh, I should write an article about anger management? I’ll show you an article about anger management … And then it occurred to me that I needed a topic for an article anyway, so I might as well show him an article about anger management. And maybe all the tips I would read in researching this article would help calm me down.

Well, they might have, if they weren’t so useless. The issue is that the articles don’t even know why you’re mad or profess to know why, but they definitely know how you can fix it.

For starters, all the articles point out that anger isn’t nice, and other people don’t like it when you’re angry. But you know this. It’s not like this is your first time getting angry, where you’re like, “I heard about this anger thing; should I maybe try it out? What are the pros and cons?”

But what, so other people can do whatever they want, but if I get angry about it, I’m the bad guy?

So in general, none of these techniques are really worth much, and now I’m just mad at all these experts for wasting my time. But I suppose if you have someone in your life who is angry, you can show them these tips. That’ll calm them right down.

1. TALK IT OUT: But without being confrontational about it or blaming the other person. For example, if someone cuts you off in traffic or drives really slowly in front of you, don’t just honk your horn angrily. Unfortunately, though, there’s no “Talk It Out” button on your horn. So walk over to their car at the next red light and express your feelings. Say things like, “It really hurts me when you drive slowly like that. It would be really helpful if, in the future…” and then, if you do it right, this one particular guy will never act like that when you’re right behind him ever again, unless you’re in a different car! And now you just have to do the same thing with all the other drivers! Follow them home if you have to. And if they react negatively to this, maybe they’re the ones with anger management issues. Did they ever think of that? Politely suggest this to them.

2. GET SOME EXERCISE: Physical activity can reduce stress. Like sometimes you just want to punch someone in the face. But stop and think: Why will that make you feel better? Probably the physical activity, right? So instead of punching this guy in the face, why don’t you go off and punch other guys in the face—guys that you’re not mad at? I can’t think of a single good reason. Another idea is to take a long walk while talking to yourself, or go for a run. Just take off running in the middle of your argument. You don’t even have to tell the other person where you’re going. He doesn’t deserve to know. If you’re afraid to run or walk by yourself, though, ask the other person if they want to come along.

3. TALK IT OVER WITH SOMEONE: Like a friend or something. But without naming names. So preferably, a friend who doesn’t know this other person that you’re angry at, because otherwise, by the time you’re done, he’s definitely going to guess who you’re talking about. In fact, he’s going to spend the entire conversation trying to guess who you’re talking about. “It is Chaim?” “No, it’s someone else that you don’t know whose familial situation and profession is exactly like Chaim’s.” The problem is that this doesn’t help, because your friend is not going to calm you down and tell you that your feelings are out of proportion. Your friend, who is mainly thinking about remaining your friend, will do what he always does—stand behind you and your feelings and encourage you to stand up for yourself. And how’s that going to help? Now you’re going to be mad at him if this goes south.

You want to maybe talk to your spouse, because your spouse is perfectly willing to sometimes say that you’re overreacting, especially when he or she is not personally involved. Though if the person you’re mad at is your spouse, then you’re out of luck. Good luck talking to someone else about it, while also trying to be careful to talk about your problems in a way that the person can’t guess that it’s your spouse. If you have an imaginary friend that you talk to, that would help a lot, because there’s no problem of lashon hara. That’s why I do it.

4. EAT SOMETHING: When we’re hungry, we’re often more prone to anger. Make sure to slam every bowl and cabinet while you’re taking it out, and keep that angry face while you’re chewing. Don’t eat something that requires you to take huge bites, because it’s hard to keep an angry face when you do that. Maybe go for something with a straw.

5. COUNT TO 10: I already knew this one from my parents. Growing up, whenever my parents were angry at me, they’d say, “All right, I’m counting: 1… 2…” Sometimes if they were really mad, they only counted to three. But all I learned from that is that when you get to three, you’re not less angry, you’re more angry. Who raised these psychologists?

Another suggestion that some of these articles say is that, instead of yelling, you should just

WRITE THINGS DOWN. Well, that clearly doesn’t work. At least the way I’m doing it.

I need to go off and calm down.


Mordechai Schmutter is a freelance writer and a humor columnist for Hamodia and other magazines. He has also published seven books and does stand-up comedy. You can contact him at [email protected].

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