Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Get Angry

"Anger is a short madness"

I think we can all agree that to a certain degree and in specific applications, we humans can perform much more efficiently when propelled by a controlled, inner rage. For example, those cars reversing down 395 over the bridge this afternoon to make an earlier ramp (illegal, schmillegal) because of dead stopped traffic, were going to get to their destinations much faster than the rest of us. Oh, and I have never sent more effective work e-mails or handled matters more efficiently at work when in a more-than-slightly elevated degree of frustration.  And probably the most effective times are when we are mad at ourselves. We take a step back, re-evaluate and then go and KICK SOME SERIOUS ASS!!! Right?

I've always played better soccer when I was angry. Tonight's game revitalized that philosophy and thank goodness because last week at my first game with my new team - The Foot Clan - I was running around like some delicate fairy, afraid to even touch the ball. What a pansy! This week, my personal trainer and lifelong soccer coach, aka my mother, knew exactly how to light the inner tiger and get my butt in gear out on the field. We came out of the second half with a win (1-0) assisted by yours truly, and Katie limping on her crushed left foot, which is nicely elevated and iced as I type. Now that's how to come out of a good game!

On Sunday, when I knew I hadn't run nearly 7 days prior, I was furious that I thought I could excuse one day after the next of not running, and banged out 7.4 miles from Hobart Street and down to the Kennedy Center. That's right, I'll show you, lazy anti-running little red devil on my shoulder. Take it!

When an event triggers you to an angry reaction, it's okay. In fact, your amygdala, or the emotion-center of your brain, is wired to tell you that you're angry much faster than the cortex, or the thought and judgment center of your brain, can react and tell you the degree of reaction that you will have towards that trigger. This phenomenon is not an excuse to give the cop that pulls you over for road rage and definitely won't fly in court, so what's crucial is learning to manage the degree of your anger. Have you heard the phrase, "You can't help how you feel, but you can help how you react to it"? I'm a fan of this one. The initial reaction is also your 'gut instinct'. (And always, always, trust your gut!)

Relaxation techniques will reduce the activity of your amygdala, though it takes a long time to reduce anger as the adrenaline is already coarsing through your veins. Your best bet is to remove the antagonist or control your thoughts about the trigger. Yes, anger has been linked to heart disease, but it also is a very important emotion, to help us distinguish when things are perceived as unjust or unfair.

So... GET ANGRY, let it out. Work harder to get the raise that your co-worker already did, tell your boyfriend that you're tired of his dirty socks lying on the floor, spend an extra 15 minutes training your puppy to not pee indoors, whatever you need to do. If it's a controlled rage, you might just be pleased with the results!

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