Max walks onto the court, feeling full of pride that he has made it this far in the competition. He is a bit boastful and arrogant. He has been talking about this all week, how his team will win “no problem.”
Onto the court walks the opposing team. Oh, there is their star player. As Max lays eyes on him, there is a feeling of jealousy that rises in his throat. There is even a brief thought of self-doubt that turns into feelings of anxiety and worry that maybe this won't be as easy as he was setting it up to be.
Tip off. Dribble. Run. Pass. “Why didn’t he take the shot? I set him up perfectly!” Internal self-talk gives feelings of disappointment in his teammate.
Max is playing hard, but missing shot after shot. He is feeling very frustrated. He goes for the foul. Down goes the opposing player who hits the court hard. “Was it just drama or did I really hurt him?” Max feels a twinge of guilt.
In the end the score was close. Max yells, “Close only counts in hand grenades!” But the explosion was much the same. Max has become Mad Max. Throwing things, cussing, arguing, blaming, and pulling back fists. He quickly feels the humiliation of loss and the swallowing of his pride.
Mad Max’s anger is a secondary emotion. He has experienced primary emotions — jealousy, self -doubt, anxiety, worry, disappointment, frustration, guilt, humiliation, and exhaustion — that come prior to anger. Mad Max needs some anger management.
Chill out, Mad Max. Just stop and don't react. Take a deep breath.
Focus on calming self-talk such as “calm down” “this too will pass” “it will be OK.”
It may help to do a countdown to calm — counting backwards from 100. Take some time to cool down, away from others.
Maybe Max needs to listen to calming music, refocus by doing something fun, or reading a book. Max could spend some time in prayer, meditating, or being in nature. Max could share his primary feelings with his teammates or loved ones by using “I feel ...” statements or by writing his feelings in a journal.
I hope Max finds time to relax, and enjoy something special, to reward himself next time when he handles his hot buttons in a positive way.
Chill out, Max. Use anger management skills and you will win in the game of life!
— Linda Yearout is a local licensed clinical marriage and family therapist