Today’s pick is one that has, surprisingly, been purchased more times than you would probably guess (if you’re the kind of person who generally gives people the benefit of the doubt, the kind of person who trusts people and thinks most people are, under the surface, good people). It’s a book that doesn’t try to mask what its intentions are with a deceptive title: “The Anger & Aggression” Workbook.
We’ve all known angry people before, and we all know the various ways angry people work to become happier, calmer versions of themselves… but I doubt most of you have ever pictured a very angry man sitting down and completing a workbook that asks him to put his feelings down on over-sized, evenly spaced lines akin to the beginners’ Spanish workbooks you probably worked with when you were in the 7th grade. But let me tell you: plenty of men and women are doing this. The workbook is pictured below:
The most important question seems (to me) to be: At what stage in the “healing” process do you start using the workbook? What level of commitment to overcoming one’s anger does one have to have to order this book from Amazon and start doing the exercises? It’s a great question. Let’s explore.
Scenario: A man (we’ll call him Hunter) has a wife and two kids. Hunter’s a Buffalo Bills fan (he was born into it the team. unfortunate). When Hunter watches the Bills lose, he often loses control. He’s far from the point where he would consider taking his anger out on his immediate family (thank God), but the population of the family’s collection of plates, cups, and coffee mugs suffers on Sundays. The family wears shoes constantly in the family room, as you never really know if Hunter forgot to pick up a broken shard of the dinner plate he threw following last night’s massacre of the Bills (an almost weekly occurrence this year).
The wife (we’ll call her Allison) is getting sick of it. Her paychecks aren’t big enough to continuously replace the dishes Hunter tosses at will on Sunday afternoons. The tipping point? The first time little Billy (the youngest) doesn’t even get a plate to eat off of on Spaghetti Tuesday (a weekly tradition). Billy is forced to eat the Spaghetti off of a cheap napkin, whose fragility forces young Billy to ingest an unhealthy amount of cloth along with his spaghetti. He gets sick. The day before the big test on the 50-state capitals. He already has a low C for the quarter. Repeating the 3rd grade won’t vie well for the little guy later in life.
Allison’s told Hunter he needs to work on his anger plenty of times before. It doesn’t seem to be working. The family’s in no financial state to be able to get Hunter anger management counseling. He probably wouldn’t go anyways. He’s lazy and has been on unemployment for almost 3 months. She can’t sit back and do nothing.
Anger & Aggression workbook to the rescue. She orders one and sets in on the dining room table, a place Hunter sits every night to smoke a cigar and down a couple of Bud Heavy’s before heading to bed. He usually completes the daily crossword puzzle during this time (uncharacteristic of the man, but he loves word games). Tonight, however, following the newspaper subscription’s cancellation by Allison, Hunter is left with only one choice: the anger and aggression workbook. He wearily cracks the workbook open and begins filling out what seem like harmless personality tests and questionnaires.
Fast forward 2 months: Hunter’s Buffalo Bills are now the worst team in the league. But he’s gone through the workbook. Is he still an angry person? Call it a hunch, but I say he is. If a cheap, non-descriptive workbook like this couldn’t teach me a basic understanding of Spanish in 7th grade, I doubt it could free a man from his anger at 45 years old. I guess it’s time to stock up on paper plates and cups, Allison. Or pray the Bills get a decent draft choice for next season.