OPINION — Earlier this semester, I wrote a piece on handling grief, and I briefly mentioned that anger can stem from it, but I did not address how to deal with it when it comes. Today, I will do just that.
First and foremost, anger is absolutely a natural emotion, and it is good and healthy to let yourself feel it, but don’t become consumed by it. Try to understand your anger to know if it is reasonable or reactionary.
My dog Shina died last weekend, and she was my baby. I loved that dog more than most other people. It was sudden, and I was not prepared to lose her. I have lost dogs before, but oftentimes they were sick, and I was able to grieve. In the days after her death, whenever I would try to fall asleep, I would be so consumed with anger and intrusive thoughts that I would have to get up and walk around.
I was angry at a lot of things. Angry at myself for not being there. Angry at my mother for not being able to prevent it. But the rage I felt and the thoughts that bombarded me did not bring my dog back, nor were they particularly valid, so I had to let them go. It was not like being angry at an ex-partner — this anger was misplaced, and I knew that.
So how did I handle it? It was hard to let go of it at first, and, honestly, I had not been sleeping well because of it. But first, I let go of the name-calling towards both myself and my mom. That was unhelpful and untrue. There was nothing that I could have done. I was not useless. My mom did everything she could for Shina and is a wonderful pet mom — and real mom. She is not stupid.
Taking deep breaths is probably cliché at this point, but it really did help me reevaluate what I was thinking, and understand that the thoughts were not true.
The next thing I did was listen to sleep hypnosis. My favorite is a video by Michael Sealey called Sleep Hypnosis for Anxiety Reduction & Reversal. This video isn’t anger-specific, but it is nice because it helps me focus on something that is outside of me, and I know it will eventually put me to sleep. Hypnosis is not for everyone, but I personally enjoy a soothing voice in my ear.
Anger during the day isn’t nearly as difficult for me personally because I am constantly doing something. But when it did consume me, doing physical labor was a good outlet. I would put on some rock music like Dernia Harvey and deep clean my room.
Whatever you do, however, do not drive. I was initially more upset when I was told not to drive in order to clear my head than I was at the situation that made me angry. However, I eventually realized that it wasn’t a lack of trust in me, but a lack of trust in the potential triggers in the environment at that time. Driving angry is dangerous. And while it is a good way to clear your head, when you are volatile like that you could really hurt someone.
Anger is natural, but it is very important to watch what you do with it. What if I had driven upset and hurt someone? What if I called my mom in the middle of the night and told her everything that I had thought about her negatively at that moment? Let go of it as best you can and don’t take it out on others.
Eventually, the anger will fade. Eventually, it will be easy to be at peace.