Dear Aspie: How to control anger

Dear Aspie:
“Can you give some general advice on controlling anger?”

–rocklobster

Read on for GroovyDruid’s response!

Dear Aspie:
“Can you give some general advice on controlling anger?”

–rocklobster

You’re going to laugh. It’s really, really too simple. I’m going to have to make it quite complicated here to make an article out of it.

What I mean is, anger resides in your universe. Notice I don’t say in your head—that would belittle it. No, it is in your universe, and your inner universe is a fantastic, exciting, powerful, and very real place. But it’s yours. And that gives you an advantage, trying to control something on your home turf.

How? Well, this is where it gets silly. As soon as you get angry, don’t fight it.

“WHAT?”

Yes. That’s right, don’t fight it. In fact, as soon as you start to feel the anger well up in you, make it your mission to become more angry. In fact, your first goal should be to become twice as angry as you currently are. That’s a pretty good goal for a beginner: “Thou shalt become twice as angry as thou currently art.” That’s the commandment, before you say or do anything.

So stop and become twice as angry. And do it right. Be very sure you have reached the twice-as-angry mark. Don’t stop becoming more angry until you have twice as much anger: no more, no less. Once you have this down, you can move on to making yourself three times as angry, or boiling mad, or irascible, or irate, or “really pissed,” or whatever comes next for you. But start with twice as angry.

And what will happen, you ask? What’s the point? Well, it’s kind of a secret, but figure along with me here:

You took the anger and told it what to do, right? Well, that makes all the difference. See, anger, fear, confusion, and other unwanted emotions are only powerful in your internal universe as long as you can’t control, manipulate, extend, contract, and generally run circles around them. But if you take your anger and order it to become twice as severe, you actually take responsibility for the emotion. You are saying, “I caused this emotion, and I can cause some more if it pleases me. I am a god in my inner universe. Heh heh…” When you acknowledge you are a cause, then you stop being an effect—in this case, of your anger.

And believe you me, it feels great. When some idiot does something to you, and you make yourself more angry, all the sudden, he isn’t making you angry anymore: you are. You grab all his power over you. If you’re like most people who do this drill, you’ll burst out laughing on the spot. You’ll just howl, because you get the big joke: it all belongs to you! And you can then throw the anger away if you want, or keep some of it and unleash it as needed, or label it in a little brown bottle and keep it for next time. Your choice.

Now, you may be wondering: “Okay, smarty pants. Instead of making myself more angry, why don’t I just zap all my anger on the spot and not go through all the other mumbo-jumbo?”

Well, here’s the finesse: if you are getting angry in the first place, you are fighting something in your head. Always. Doesn’t matter if fists are flying or words are being exchanged yet, you are in a fight with something in your mind already.

Now, if you try to count to ten, or suppress your temper, or zap your angry urges, or become philosophical, then all you really accomplish is to fight the anger, which is just more internal fighting. “Duhhhhh what?” Yeah, you’re fighting the fighting. Doesn’t make any sense. None. If you try to fight fighting, you get what’s called, in modern warfare terms, an “escalation,” not a disappearance. Pretty soon, you either pee your pants or kick someone else’s. Either way, you have flown out of control, and you are not going to get the result you want.

So make yourself more angry. Go with the flow you started and master it, rather than resisting it head on. It’s like in the Westerns: the hero jumps on the backs of the horses that are pulling the out-of-control stagecoach and steers them into a circle, rather than standing right in their path and shouting, “I order you to stop!” It just makes sense.

Happy trails.

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