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Home Plate: Emotion can boil to anger

Home Plate: Emotion can boil to anger

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Several years ago, a couple of young friends visited here from Atlanta during an emotional show of support for a slain policeman.

They decided the Midwest might be an inviting place to live, but it has its violent side, too. With the disturbing shootings of recent weeks, the same could be said for most places we would regard as peaceful and safe.

Everyone has emotions that run deep. Gladly, only very few connect them in violent ways.

Emotions have a way of sneaking up on people. Road outrage - rage seems a little strong for most of us - is a good example.

Recently after a light-sleep night, I seemed to be handling the morning routine quite nicely, thank you. Coming to a stoplight in back of a truck where I couldn't see if my lane had a left-turn arrow into oncoming traffic, I slowed down.

The person behind me honked — loudly to my ears.

And I honked my horn back - a long time.

This is the horn nowhere to be found when I want to warn a daydreaming driver he is about to run into my right fender. It was easy that day when the sound of the horn behind me melted my little stash of patience.

According to "Stealth Health" (Reader's Digest, 2005), there's no way to get through life without getting angry. The key is to learn how to defuse it constructively so it doesn't wind up destroying your health.

Here are hints from the book:

> Skip punching a pillow, wall or the object of your anger. It only increases hostility.

> Take three deep breaths. They lower the internal anger meter.

> Track clues about the situations and people that trigger your anger. Anticipate them. Avoid them.

> Visualize responses to events that tip the scale. By rehearsing different reactions, hopefully a healthier one will pop into action when the trigger pops.

> Walk away for fresh air. Sing with a turned-up radio in a traffic jam. Mentally escape. Laugh. Watch the second hand circle twice.

> Watch for signs, such as clenched fists, flushing, sweating. Ask a friend or trusted co-worker to watch for them, too.

> Don't describe others' actions with words like "never" and "always." They fuel fires of black and white. People usually act in "gray."

> Root out the cause of the distress.

> Don't use your anger as a threat, particularly with children or parents. It's not their problem; it's yours.

> Write a forgiveness letter or e-mail. If you want to recover a relationship, send it.

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