We all get angry. We say things we really don't mean and do things that hurt others. Then we regret our words and actions. But we justify our anger by convincing ourselves that it's necessary to get those feelings out of our system. Often, however, our wanting to feel better is at the expense of someone else's feelings. Who hurts the most when we lash out at someone else? Maybe we do.
Who's in control?
Other people don't make you angry. Think about it. You make yourself angry. Viktor Frankl, Austrian neurologist, psychiatrist and Holocaust survivor said, "Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response."
If you allow other people and situations around you to make your blood boil, then you're allowing outside forces to control you. If what another person says to you adjusts your temperature hot or cold, then you are allowing that person to have incredible power over you. However, if you remain calm no matter what someone else says or does, then you remain in control.
Dad, share this advice with your children. Next time you feel like you're about to lose your temper, tell yourself, "I'm not going to let this person have that kind of power over me. I'm in control here." If you do lose your temper or are on the verge of doing so, ask yourself, "How does putting more hostility into the world help?" "What am I afraid will happen if I don't get angry?" Your answers may bewilder or even astound you.
Situation: A girl sees her boyfriend flirting with another girl and gets angry.
Why are you angry?
She: What a dumb question. My boyfriend is flirting with someone else!
What are you afraid would happen if you weren't angry?
She: Huh? If I didn't get angry, it would look like it didn't bother me.
Do you have to get angry to show that his behavior bothers you?
She: Well, he is my boyfriend!
But why get angry?
She: Because all my friends have boyfriends, and I'm afraid I'll lose mine.
Do you need to get angry to keep your boyfriend?
She: Your questions are driving me crazy!
I hope our questions aren't making you even angrier
Dad, use the questions above to work through the following scenarios. Role-play with your son or daughter. Be honest with your answers. Through this self-examination process, you might make some fascinating discoveries about yourself and interactions with others.
-Your locker partner has "borrowed" your math notes.
-Your football team lost the big game.
-You flunked your exam.
-Your parents insist on a midnight curfew.
Through positive, nonjudgmental questions, you can help your child consider options, reflect on situations and make less reactive choices.
Tom Tozer and Bill Black are authors of "Dads2Dads: Tools for Raising Teenagers." Like them on Facebook and follow them on Twitter at Dads2Dadsllc. Contact them at tomandbill@Dads2Dadsllc.com.