We all get angry now and then.
That’s something everyone reading this blog and every citizen of the world have in common. I have always been fascinated with the Marvel Universe characters, one of which is the “Hulk”. To a little extent, I like to imagine that every person has a super-hero in them. That we all have some superhero power.
In this blog, I would argue that there is a Hulk in every one of us.
What’s important is not that we all have that Hulk that could awaken at a moment’s notice but that we get better at managing that Hulk – that anger. Knowing when to unleash your Hulk.
You see, in dealing with thousands of people of all ages in all walks of life in more than two decades in the gym environment, one of the observations I have made is that different people use anger to hide different feelings. The interesting thing is that a lot of times a lot of people don’t know the real reason they are angry.
Think about you when you get angry. Do you use anger to cover different emotions at different times?
Having children brings out the best in every parent and I think many, if not all parents reading this would agree. This includes the best of ‘anger’ too. Having children teaches you many things, one of which is patience and your tolerance for it. “Zachary, can you stop kicking the car seat please!” and then a few minutes later … “For the hundredth time, Zachary, stop kicking the car seat please!”.
Your patience is constantly tested by your children as you do your best to control that lever that releases the Hulk or anger. It is a daily constant battle at times.
In this phase of his life, my son’s curiosity encourages him to push limits – push beyond his own physical, mental and emotional limits and also push us – my wife and I, beyond our limits too. An interesting phase in our lives to say the least.
I have learned that, as parents, we MUST be permissive to our children’s feelings while setting limits to their action, when appropriate. One of the problems most, if not, all parents face is: when to use discipline and when to GIVE IN; when to be firm and when to be easy; when to give TOUGH LOVE and when to show CARE AND EMPATHY.
At one point or another, we all find ourselves asking ourselves the question: “Is this the moment to be accepting and empathise so that my child will not be afraid of his feelings?” or “should I put my foot down so he understands that he cannot get away with this?”
What I have found is that there are NO SET RULES TO FOLLOW.
Each situation must be handled separately but this is not as difficult as it sounds.
As an owner of a gym for 7 years, I found myself constantly resolving conflicts – conflicts between members, conflicts between members and their family members, internal conflicts of members and conflicts in general. What I found was that the first response I chose to a situation SET THE TONE for how traumatically an event will be taken. I have also found that this is a very good approach to keep in mind when dealing with children too.
It seems to work with my ability to manage conflicts with my two kids.
When one of my children is hurting, I have found that compounding it by reacting with angry words or action (and letting the HULK out) does not add to the solution. Instead, responding with initial softness and empathy, helps more. I think it allows the child to see that if me or my wife (Dad or mum) aren’t panicking, maybe, just maybe, there is a light at the end of the tunnel.
Where does this ability to be permissive and initiate softness and keep from panicking come from? It comes from WITHIN. The same place the HULK lies dormant. It is a choice. It is a choice that is made by you, the parent, in the good times – the quiet times. That is the best time. The best time to decide on how you respond to a child’s mis-behaviour.
Because if you didn’t decide on such an approach/response or similar, then chaos would prevail and anger or the Hulk will be default system you will react on. There isn’t time to think about ways to prevent a fire, in the MIDDLE OF A FIRE!
If you’re religious, you will believe that GOD works all things unto good.
So, when difficulty first happens, don’t lecture your children, panic or commence scolding. Allowing them to feel the hurt, the anger and initially responding to their behaviour with calm comforting lays an important foundation. A foundation that will allow them to find value in their experience.
Yes, it is much easier to just release the HULK, but it takes a lot of strength to keep it at bay. Calmness comes from within. For you Christians or members of other religious denominations reading this, calmness comes from God’s word. For those of you not so religiously inclined, think of this calmness as being already a part of you. Part of your “inner-self”.
THERE IS A TIME AND PLACE FOR GENUINE, APPROPRIATE ANGER. There is a time and place to let the HULK out. For instance, most of us would respond to injustice and cruelty with anger. Healthy anger can be channelled towards constructively making our world a better place to live in. Healthy anger can be transmuted when one trains with weights. This is one of the un-sung benefits of weight-training with moderate to heavy weights. When executed properly, negative energy (anger) is transmuted through the iron and replaced with a charge of positive energy and vitality.
Anger or the HULK, when released with the appropriate intensity and direction is very positive and a good thing. This is partly because painful trials or conflicts that challenge the threat of the release of our anger/the HULK, produces something encouraging. It produces maturity and growth.
This maturity and growth ultimately leads to LOVE.
Your challenge: become better at controlling the Hulk within. Don’t be afraid to let it out and work on becoming increasingly aware of when to unleash your Hulk. But, only release your Hulk – when appropriate, and with a proportional response.
Until next time,