I’m a vengeful person. Not in like a medieval feud way, but more in a “I am terrible with coming to peace with people who have done very very slightly annoying things” way. I swear I’m not a serial killer in the making.
I have a list on my phone called the “vendetta list”. It’s mostly just dumb things like the pub that didn’t allow my friend in once, our neighbour who complains about our cats, and people who do truly reprehensible things – like playing albums on shuffle. Proper war crime territory.
Recently there has been a new addition. A doctor who incorrectly performed a liver fibrosis scan on me and screwed it up so badly it’s amazing. But this isn’t about that. No, it’s about what to do with anger and frustration. Particularly with things out of your control.
Since finding out how badly this guy screwed up the test I’ve been on an emotional rollercoaster. Though the emotion is mostly frustration.
Here’s what I found helped me as I attempted to channel my emotions into something.
A popular method to alleviate stress, frustration, anger, and channel it into something productive. I think it definitely works. When you’re in that proper angry mood you can really smash out a workout. I found at my angriest I finished 3 minutes quicker during my usual routine on the bike.
However, it also makes you smell terrible afterwards and nobody likes somebody who humblebrags about their workout routine, so this method gets a C- from me.
There’s two different paths I go down when I’m frustrated and I want to play a game to do something about that frustration. One is the 1993 classic first-person shooter DOOM, the other is the farming simulation game Stardew Valley.
DOOM is a classic. A truly multigenerational unifier and a game that has stood the test of time. You play as a space marine stuck on Mars who has to kill demons, traverse through Hell, kill more demons, and save the world. A quintessential anger management game and one that has served me well since high school.
One thing I appreciate about it is that while you are in this fast-paced game, you also must think strategically about your resources and work out the best way to make your way around a map. The joy and relief I receive from completing a tough encounter in DOOM is unlike any other. It turns anger into relief.
Stardew Valley is an incredible independent game released in 2016 that is about building your own farm, raising animals, fishing, and forming relationships with the townsfolk. A universally popular game and one I played a lot of during the early days of the COVID-19 lockdown.
It gave me proper tangible goals to achieve, feeling of accomplishment, and a world that was welcoming and refreshingly bright. When you’re angry, sometimes a good panacea is something cute and wholesome. A bright, pixel-y, and gorgeous palate cleanser.
Unfortunately, video games are for nerds and therefore they get a D for dork.
Sometimes you just gotta throw it back to being an edgy 14 year-old who just discovered My Chemical Romance and Green Day and go full 00s emo.
My music for being pissed off is not that diverse if I’m honest. I just throw a stack of peak-drug-use Placebo music on and some Apocalypso-era stuff from The Presets.
Placebo’s opening track of their eponymous debut album is usually my go-to. Come Home is so incredibly edgy it both works as angry music and simultaneously makes me laugh. The line “give a monkey half a brain and still he’s bound to fry it” is so funny to me it could be from a Paul Kelly or Courtney Barnett song.
A lot of the music from The Presets album Apocalypso is very much of its era. Released in 2008, it’s a reaction to state of Australia and particularly critical of John Howard’s government and their policies on asylum seekers.
I’m here with all of my people
Locked up with all of my people
So let me hear you scream if you’re with me
The most famous track of theirs is My People, which was a hit in Australia and tackled the offshore processing policy from the perspective of an asylum seeker. It’s a protest song and about inciting a riot, standing up for your basic human rights. Boy isn’t it good that all of that stuff is a thing of the past and totally still not topical in 2020?
However I don’t believe in putting political messages in your music because I don’t understand how art works, so music gets an F for forced diversity.
In seriousness, I really believe that you need to use anger and frustration and not shame yourself for feeling those emotions. Allow yourself to wallow in them for just a little bit. Otherwise, you bottle it all up and end up abusing the poor Uber Eats guy.
Anger management has a bad association with just being about guys who punch holes in their walls when I think everybody should talk about it more and what they can do when they’re angry. Culturally there isn’t much discussion on anger as an emotion that we all feel. It’s made very alien when it’s all part of the mental health sphere, really.
And discussion over mental health is always important.