Most of us have experienced a moment of rage (or more)—whether we would care to admit it. On one occasion, I remember being so full of rage after a pickup truck nearly ran me off the road that I was thankful I did not have a weapon in my car.
Why is this condition of rage so prevalent on our roads, in our workplaces, at stores, at schools, at our children’s sporting events, and in many other situations?
Before I suggest causes and options, here are some real-life examples of dangerous rage that either have happened or are now occurring:
- A cheerleader’s mother in the United States killed another cheerleader just so her daughter would make the squad.
- A hockey parent in Canada beat up the referee—a 13-year-old boy—into unconsciousness. Apparently, this young ref had made a “wrong call” and somehow deserved a beating.
- Greater than 50% of soccer referees in Calgary quit this year, citing abuse from the parents—including death threats.
- Los Angeles has the claim-to-fame of inventing the well-known phrase “road rage,” which includes everything from screaming obscenities at other drivers to running vehicles off the road to shootings.
- A NASA employee recently killed several co-workers because of a workplace dispute.
- Soccer fans in South America shot their star player after they lost a match.
- There are too many horrific school shootings to mention within this article.
- Spousal and family abuse (domestic violence) is widespread and commonplace.
- All global terrorism is based on various types of rage.
Rage is on a rampage. It’s time for us to reject this state of being.
At its core, rage, defined as “violent, uncontrollable anger,” is the loss of reason and self-control. Research has shown that as a person’s anger increases, so does his/her pulse rate and heartbeat, inundating the body with adrenaline and other hormones. This condition reduces a person’s ability to reason and think rationally, rather than emotionally. Certain levels of rage can cause individuals to act in an insane manner.
Since our behaviors always reflect the Law of Duality (everything is on a continuum and has a complementary opposite within the whole), rage is the absence of calmness, harmony, tranquility, or peace. Rage and complete calmness cannot coexist in the same person. Another way to think about the Law of Duality: There may be two sides of a coin, but there is only one coin. In the end, each person must be responsible for his/her behavior.
What strategies can help deal with rage?
- To establish suitable conduct at sports events, all sports leagues should institute a zero-tolerance policy regarding inappropriate behavior of both parents and players. What are “sports-raged” parents teaching children about acceptable conduct? That it’s okay to act uncontrollably angry if things aren’t going your way? If you are an observer of that type of inappropriate rage, doing nothing is the sin of omission. Say something; do something!
- A constant “diet” of violent media and other such aggressive input will influence the way people respond. In almost every school shooting incident, a metaphoric link was made between the perpetrator(s) and brutally violent video games or movies. If you don’t believe there is such a link, ask yourself this: How do young minds get warped into thinking a suicide bomber is “honorable?” If you are a parent, control your child’s exposure to violent programs and video games—even in cartoons and music.
The wrong input creates the wrong output.
Today, there are programs to help people manage their road rage. If you have this tendency and you can’t fix it yourself, seek professional help. Studies suggest our busy lifestyles contribute to our short fuses. Many of us are so stressed that just one incident can push us over the edge!
How balanced is your life?
This Week’s Action Steps
Replacing Rage with Composure
- Take responsibility for controlling your own rage.
- Stay calm to replace feelings of rage. Calmness and rage cannot coexist.
- Establish a zero-tolerance policy of inappropriate behavior (rage, among others) in the groups and organizations to which you belong—sports teams, competitive groups, clubs, volunteer groups, etc.
- For parents: Limit or eliminate your child’s sources of violent input. This includes cartoons, video games, movies, music, the Internet, etc. Don’t bend to your child’s pressure. Remember: If you are not in charge, who is?
- List all the areas in your life in which you have a propensity for rage. Please be honest with yourself. Rage can be internally focused until a person explodes in a fit of anger. Pay attention to that possibility.
- Consider how you can limit your tendency toward rage in the future. Try to understand why you become enraged. Form strategies to help you guard against rage. For example, 1) Learn not to take things personally, and 2) Let go of the incident.
- Don’t forget that rage can have serious, devastating consequences. When people become enraged, they lose control of common sense, and might end up conducting themselves in unexplainable ways. During a recent documentary, an enraged individual shot another driver, paralyzing him. The shooter’s comment? “I don’t know what came over me!”
- Think about someone who needs to hear this message about rage. Please don’t avoid looking the other way. Too many have done that in the past—with unfortunate consequences. In a calm moment, communicate with this individual that his/her rage is negatively affecting everyone—family, friends, and colleagues. If this person’s rage is a threat to you, do whatever you can to remove yourself from risk. Get help, if needed.
- Complete CRG’s Stress Indicator and Health Planner to benchmark your stress and wellness levels. Stress can make it easier for you to be pulled into a fit of rage when anything “sets you off.”
- Take responsibility—now. Rage is everyone’s issue; do what you can do about it. Let’s all move toward being mature and composed.
- Remember: Confidence does not mean you are arrogant. In fact, the opposite is true; authentic confidence comes with humility.
Ken Keis, Ph.D.
CRG Consulting Resource Group International, Inc.
Ken Keis, Ph.D., President of CRG, is a global expert on leadership, wellness, behavioral assessments, and life purpose. In 28 years, he has conducted over 3000 presentations and invested 10,000+ hours in consulting and coaching. Ken Keis is considered a foremost global authority on the way assessment strategies and processes increase and multiply success rates. He co-created CRG’s proprietary development models and has written over 4 million words of content for 40 business training programs and 400+ articles. His latest book, The Quest For Purpose: A Self-Discovery Process To Find It And Live It!,is available at crgleader.com.