Managing My Anger

Dave Gutteridge
6 min readNov 7, 2021
Close up of eyes with very dark lighting.
(Photo by Peter Forster on Unsplash)

The concept of “anger management” is often framed as being exclusively a form of therapy for people who fly into fits of rage that harm themselves or people around them. Anger management is treated like it’s an exotic problem, the kind that only merits treatment if you are a fundamentally broken human.

But everyone has moments of anger, and pretty much none of us are given tools for handling them. Our schools and culture completely fail to provide any coaching for how to ride the waves of feelings, any feelings, whether they’re positive or negative, or if they go up or down.

When you’re a kid in school, if you behave badly, you’re punished. Sent to detention or perhaps given a task. At my elementary school we were given “garbage duty,” which was to go clean up trash around school grounds. I suppose that’s intended to make you feel like actions have consequences that you should want to learn to avoid. But I suspect the only real lesson learned is that your actions have consequences so long as there is someone with more authority than you around to impose their way over yours. Once free of their authority, the echo of the intended lesson can fade quickly.

Whether or not you get any emotional coaching of any kind at home is completely a crap shoot. Even emotionally balanced parents, which are an extremely rare occurrence, can only lead by example and hope their children follow them across a river of peer and societal influence.

From what I can tell from my decades of life post high school is that almost no one has effective coping mechanisms for anger, or depression, or any “negative” feeling, assuming that’s even a valid value judgment. Most people, when they get sufficiently upset, will show you a side of them you never met before, no matter how long you’ve known them.

It doesn’t have to be huge blow ups, though that happens enough, especially in intimate relationships. People will hold small resentments, be passive aggressive, misdirect their frustrations from one context to the next. Poor handling of negative emotions is not merely common, it’s standard.

I do know some people who come across as being generally good natured, positive, or unlikely to get angry. That seems like they are emotionally well balanced, but I don’t think we can objectively say they simply…

Dave Gutteridge

I write thought-provoking pieces on ethics, relationships, and philosophy with honesty and vulnerability, often inspired by experiences and pop culture.