My favorite band is Rage Against the Machine. I think they're faves 'cause they're an angry band. No? Have you listened to the lyrics? Know anything about their history and background? I'm not saying the individuals are angry, I'm saying the message is. Can you blame 'em? Lots to be angry about in this old world. Poverty. Illness. Violence. That's all rotten stuff.
And, in fact, it's totally okay to be angry. The problem arises when we start enjoying our anger. How does that happen? Anger promotes the production of cortisol. And cortisol can be addictive. Big time.
That's what Leonard Scheff makes real clear in his timeless masterpiece "The Cow In the Parking Lot". Love is a drug, and so is cortisol. Well, it's endogenous chemistry. That promotes a very similar feeling to the one you get when you binge recreational stimulants. This is important. People who have a problem with anger don't always look at it through the framework of an addiction. If you buy into that, then it's a matter of determining what treatments for addiction are best brought to bear in the effort to control one's anger.
You could just read "The Cow in the Parking Lot".
Serious! First time I read it, my eyes were so open I could not stop seeing. Reality. The Truth.
People think about managing their anger, or controlling it, and it doesn’t have to be that complex. It can be as simple as one cow in a parking lot.
I got lucky. I, like most men who have a problem with anger, was in complete denial. Nobody could tell me I had an anger problem because I never got angry over bullshit! Right? My causes were always noble and just, it's unfortunate the there are so many ignorant motherfuckers out there who can't tell the difference. KIDDING. Well, not really…
For real, I had a problem. A bad problem. And after I got some perspective on it, I could see that it had been the problem for a long time, back to my childhood and memories of me screaming at my sister for using my tape recorder without permission. I was, like, ten.
My problem is I have a defective throttle. For my anger. It's like a bad Japanese vehicle, with the computer that hits the accelerator and won't let up. When I get angry…I slip very easily into rage…and then straight on ahead to full fury.
My fury was never blind. My fury had a subject and it's that motherphucker's fault I lose control.
For those of you who have never heard me…I speak loudly. Really, I project, I don't know, I can remember being taught to project by music teachers and play directors, somehow, I got stuck. On loud. Just a little too loud. Not a lot, but a little, for sure.
And when I got furious, I was phucking menacing! For real, I'm a large fellow, and when I'd let go with the anger/rage/fury, it can be considered assault. I shit you not. The kind of shit you can get arrested for. The kind of shit that gets you 86'ed for life. That's a long time. I almost got 86'ed from mom's previous residence, Brokedale, when I scared the living crap out of the entire office staff after getting all the way off the launch pad.
I suppose it's appropriate that I offer that example…as that's when I finally said to myself, that's it, I concede. I've got an anger problem.
Now, being a naturally inquisitive guy, I decided I would look for books about anger management and treat myself. (That never works, so don't fool yourself.) To this moment, I cannot recall how I came to the title "The Cow in the Parking Lot". I mean, it's not a title filled with psychobabble or technical references. Doesn't have anything about anger in the title. Somehow, there it was.
And that did it. For real. That's all it took. Once I saw the truth to cortisol being an addiction, I was able to arrest that stupid shit in one fell swoop. I ain't lyin'! And you'll forgive me if I don’t just trot out the whole story here in my little blog. Won't take five seconds to Google it. But Ima save it, for people who have a problem with anger. Or has a friend that has an anger problem. It's a very short book, and it really does deliver a knockout punch for anger. Wait, that's not an appropriate metaphor for a conversation about anger.
It doesn't hurt to have a seminal moment of anger, like I did. That kinda opens your mind up, in the aftermath, which sometimes is painful. If you keep your mind open, "The Cow in the Parking Lot" will plug into your belief system as efficiently as it did to mine, and that's all it takes, bubba. One stop shop. And you're done.
We all get angry and it's important to recognize when the anger serves the purpose, when it's helpful, not harmful. If you have or have had a problem with keeping your anger under control—don't kid yourself about getting angry for the right reasons. Don't even try to go there. For you, it's like the recovering alcoholic—anger's no good for you, may never be, but certainly in the beginning.
What I had to do was substitute novel responses to the usual triggers. I decided I would go all Zen on any situation inciting anger. If someone/something triggers a response, you'd be amazed at how powerful a feeling you get…from staying calm.