Business took me to the Swiss Alps for an early morning meeting, so I chose to travel the night before and mix work with pleasure, decision-making with mountain hiking.
A light snow fell upon my arrival in the evening dampening both my body and my mood. Anger? No. Apprehension? Yes.
In Paris attire (albeit with walking shoes), I trudged one half hour through the wintry wet to settle in for the night. My plan: early to bed and early to rise. Hike three hours from my mountain village to the town in the valley in time for our 10:30 meeting.
Winter outside. Without Anger Management, winter lurks inside the soul too.
Winter magic clothed the trees in the morning. Gentle flakes transformed these grey giants into lace. Grey lace. The sun had yet to shine of these latent beauties…only to destroy their flaky glory.
Camera poised I set out to capture their beauty…and slid on the thin layer of black ice that paved the road. Immediately my focus was brought low, literally to the ground. From high and wondrous thoughts to fear and frustration…and annoyance multiplied over the loss of my moment of magic.
Isn’t that the same with our moods?
We can be flying high with soaring spirits and CRASH down to earth…or worse. Anger management, where are thou?!
How Sweet is Home?!
My kids’ behavior can do that to me. I think “Home Sweet Home” only to discover “Jungle Wild Jungle.” Strewn shoes, coats, and backpacks block my way to the front hall closet so that I no longer feel welcomed home. Next the sound of video games accost my ears…on a weekday when the children are supposed to be reading, writing, and “arithmetizing.” You probably get the picture.
Great mood. Yucky temper. In one second. Anger management, HELP!Great mood. Yucky temper. In one second. Anger management, HELP! Click To Tweet
The Neuroscience of Anger Management
Neuroscience reveals that our brains are incapable of reasoning during moments of high stress. We’re stuck in emotional responses, subservient to fight or flight. It’s like the connections between our logic and our feelings has been interrupted. In order to find solutions, be creative, and even understand the folk speaking to us, we need to reconnect the upper and lower spheres of our brain (the cortex and pre-fontal cortex).
Anger management is a physical phenomenon whereby broken communication pathways rejoin. By calming down, a person allows this uniting process to reoccur in our brains. (FYI, full upper and lower sphere connectivity in the brain is capable as of 25 years of age. Kids and youth can nonetheless get close.)
Dr. Jane Nelsen, in her book on Positive Discipline, refers this reintegration moment as a “Positive Time Out.” I cherish the name given by parents in one of my Positive Discipline classes: “I want my Cozy Corner.”
Anger Management in Action…
Literally Walking into It
My hike down the mountain led me to Cozy Corners of my soul. Reconnecting my rational thinking with my disappointments of today (they’re not that huge, after all) and my hopes for tomorrow (they’re totally attainable still!!). Bye-bye vexation. Hello expectancy.
First I noticed the sun tinge the tips of the snow-frosted trees. Light and warmth will soon melt the ice below my feet. They will also melt the glaze on the trees. Tough moments also hold their magic. The glass is also half full.
Even anger holds its treasures. Consider frustration as a sign that something should change. Fury may even fill us with the energy to explore an alternative behavior.
Managed Anger Makes Room for Positive Emotions
My enthusiasm grew with the anticipation of a fear-less walk. So did my patience. Like Annie in the musical, I could bet my bottom dollar that the sun would come out…even sooner than tomorrow.
Hope heralds forbearance, a valuable resource for every parent and child. Is “now” always the best time? Think of when you last called the children to eat dinner. NOW! Remember when your precious one wanted admiration…while you were on the phone. NOT NOW!
With every step down the mountain, Spring grew and grew. Trees lost their white hue and adopted a green undertone until I reached places where plants paved the soil and petite bright green leaves fluttered above. The ground burst with lilies of the valley about to bloom. “Do they grow better in mountains?” I mused…
By now the sun poured through the branches and colorful flowers cheered my route.
Again, my thoughts soared to hopes and beauty and wonder. This time with additional thankfulness that I had passed through the icy uncertainty so that I could fully embrace the benefits of Now.
Anger Management Tips for Today & Every Day
“Apply this to your life,” thought I.
Here is what my winter-to-spring walk showed me about anger management:
- It is O.K. to be frustrated. Annoyance is a sign that something should change.
- Glum spirits hardly enable change to happen smoothly or effectively.
- Calm down before seeking resolution to a problem. The perspective will be TOTALLY DIFFERENT and opportunities will be found.
- A great way to calm down is to think of or do something that brings joy.
- Challenge may not be enjoyable. Having overcome one does feel awesome!
P.S. On the train ride home, I regaled in the fluorescent yellow fields of “colza” (rapeseed for high in omega 3 oils!)