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Kicking the Dog

January 1, 2012

Today was a hard day.  It started off good, ended OK, but in the middle it was hard.  I have come across a new foe, agitation.  I think it might be the meds, as my issues started when they switched up my anti-seizure medications a few weeks back.  However I feel agitated and frustrated quite a bit.  Like I am a corked bottle of rage ready to explode.  As a kid I used to hold my breath until I would pass out in order to get my way. (talk about a way to freak your mom out!)  Then as I got older I would be a complete poor sport and would break stuff when I lost or would just freak out and be angry.  Not good stuff.  I felt like as I got older, I learned how to deal and not be filled with anger and aggression.  Also I learned to not let things impact me and let myself get all out of sorts.  I even got to the point where I felt like I had pretty good patience.  I learned the ability to work with people who had never been in the mountains to allow them to reach higher than they had ever been before.  However lately, I feel like I am continually “kicking the dog.”  No I am not physically kicking Logan.  It is the term I use for displaced anger.  The concept that we have a bad day, or are struggling with things and when we get home we take those frustrations out on others.  Typically our spouse, our kids, or our pets,  those people who are not responsible and ones that we love and do not want to hurt, but they somehow are the objects of our frustration, anger, or whatever, for no other reason then that they are there.  Sort of like we get home and kick the dog, why because he is there and he barked when I got home, no other reason.  Jonah provides a great example of displaced anger.  After he finally listens to God and heads to Nineveh and tells them to repent – they do and God spares them from destruction.  However Jonah is mad, because he thinks the town and all of the people should have been wiped out.  Jonah leaves the city and heads out nearby to sit and watch what happens in the town, however he is in the desert.  God allows a vine to grow that provides shade for Jonah.  He likes this as it is extremely hot, Jonah is pleased and happy.  Then the next day God sends a worm to eat that plant, the worm does and the plant dies.  Jonah is now pissed off that the plant is dead as he has to suffer the heat and the wind now as his shelter is gone.  God then calls him out, asking why he is mad about the plant and carrying on about it when Jonah did nothing to care for the plant or help it to grow,  The real truth is that he is mad about God showing grace to Nineveh, the plant just provided a nice reason for him to lash out in anger.     See Jonah Chapter 4.  The truth is I don’t want to kick the dog and have Jess and the boys deal with a short tempered, cranky person.  No matter what the reason, it is not how I want to feel or be.  But how do we deal with displaced anger?

Some of my thoughts

1.  Pray about it

2.  Find a release, whether it be reading, exercise, napping, quiet time, music, whatever, we need to hold those demons at bay and make sure we find our “happy place.”

3.  Acknowledgement, we need to recognize when we have those feelings so that we can be proactive in dealing.  As words and actions are one of those things, that really can’t be taken back.

4.  Seek grace and refuge from those feelings.

Paul’s words:

1 Corinthians 15:10
But whatever I am now, it is all because God poured out his special favor on me—and not without results. For I have worked harder than any of the other apostles; yet it was not I but God who was working through me by his grace.

We need to seek that special favor so we can keep ourselves from giving into displaced anger.  Through Grace all things are possible.  A special thanks to Jess, Colby and Cade for having to deal with me at times during this journey – not all days are good – the goal is more good than bad. Love you.  DEH

5 Comments leave one →
  1. Pegi Berdan permalink
    January 2, 2012 12:36 am

    “Kicking the Dog” is something we all have to work on. Recognizing that that is what we are doing is a step in the right direction. Making amends to our loved ones comes next. And they will understand. Prevention (notice ‘pre’ coming before ‘vent’) of hurting others is ideal. As I feel stressed/agitated, I visualize releasing that ‘bad energy’ out through my fingertips while I take a few deep breaths. That sometimes prevents me from “Kicking the Dog”. Happy New year to you and your family!

  2. JoAnna Dickinson permalink
    January 2, 2012 12:42 pm

    Well said David! I think you have a clear picture on how to deal with it; prayer being first. And prevention is key but sometimes it will arise without much warning. Being aware of it and having an action plan will get you through this irritable time as well as warning others that this is your current struggle and its increased due to medicine.

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts and struggles with everyone! You may never know the impact and inspiration that you are truly having on others and its all due to your willingness to be humble and open to the world, which is our truest testimony….being real!
    Continued prayers and love to your whole family!

  3. Erin permalink
    January 2, 2012 4:31 pm

    Great post David. The side effects that are not health based but still stem from this illness have to be so frustrating. I’m so glad you are writing. I know the ‘kick the dog’ feeling..I think we all do at some point. I will pray for some relief to your pent up frustration.

    Lots of love to you and the fam as you all go through this.

  4. Heather Hall permalink
    January 4, 2012 7:39 pm

    Thank you for being so transparent David. Anger is an important emotion that can bring healing and acceptance. One that shouldn’t be denied to anyone suffering through illness or to their loved ones that are supporting them through a tough time. You listed some pretty great ways of working through the anger: Prayer, exercise, reading, quiet time. Your family understands, as you will understand as they process their own emotions. I am praying for you, Jess, and your courageous and sweet boys.

  5. January 6, 2012 10:20 am

    Another great technique for directing and releasing anger appropriately is to practice martial arts 😉 If you ever want me to bring in the punching bag, let me know!

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