Anger Management While in Prison

By James A. Rucks, Jr.

From PHN Issue 35, Winter 2018

First, what is anger? Anger is an emotion, a strong feeling that Webster’s Dictionary defines as “a strong feeling of displeasure and usually of antagonism.”

Second, why worry about anger? Because if it is not dealt with, anger can turn into rage, like a teapot or a volcano effect. It can also lead to severe health problems such as (but not limited to) heart problems, high blood pressure, and stroke.

Tip # 1: I do not have to be right. It’s OK to be wrong.

The time is now to start an anger management program. Here is a list of some programs that can help:

  • Alcoholics Anonymous
  • Narcotics Anonymous
  • Spiritual or religious practice
  • Recreation
  • A hobby
  • Writing in a journal or diary regularly

Tip #2: Don’t sweat the small stuff.

For me, it works best to remember this: I > E, which means Intellect is greater than Emotion. In other words, Think, Think, Think. However, many people find that once you understand your emotions and where they’re coming from, they can work together with your intellect to help you figure out how to respond to a situation.

Making amends when possible can help. The Big Book of AA says resentment is the #1 offender leading people to relapse to problem drinking. Resentment is caused by blaming others instead of focusing on what you can do to make things better.

I try to always use “I” statements. Here are some examples of “I” statements:

  • “I would like your help.”
  • “I would like a moment of your time.”
  • “I would like to work this out in a peaceful manner.”
  • “I hope we can agree to disagree.”
  • “I value your friendship, so I need a Time Out.”

When I’m really angry, I take the following steps:

  1. I must take a Time Out and get away. Exploding will not meet my needs over time.
  2. Talk it out. Be honest and respectful.
  3. Work it out! I channel the energy of my anger into activities I care about. Some options are being creative, writing it down, or doing something constructive. Physical exercise can help you release all those endorphins.

I recommend practicing stress reduction techniques. They work best if you keep practicing them every day or week.

Here are some ideas:

  • Deep, slow breathing
  • Music
  • Reading
  • Writing
  • Prayer or meditation
  • A hobby
  • A funny TV show or movie
  • Talking to a friend, mentor or sponsor
  • Exercise

Tip #3: Practice humility.

I practice humility by walking away from a fight. Because I might be right, but a fight would be wrong. I once heard that it takes two fools to argue and it takes two imbeciles to fight. I also practice humility when a guard gets in my face, by not escalating the situation.

When someone is rude or disrespectful, I do not correct them. I learned a long time ago that I am not the manners police.

If I’m wrong, I correct it as soon as possible.

Good luck with anger management! I hope this may help you.

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