DEAR ABBY: I know you hear this all the time, but I really can't believe I'm writing to you. I'm a 41-year-old professional man with a great job and a loving family. I have always had a temper, but I'm usually pretty good at keeping it under control. I don't get physical when I'm angry, but I do yell and scream a lot. My wife and teenage daughters get out of my way when I lose it, but I know they're worried about my behavior.
Abby, the holiday season really got to me this year. Some financial bonuses I was expecting didn't come through. The pressure to spend and buy for Christmas was overwhelming, and we ended up spending more than I had planned. Instead of being joyous, the holidays were anything BUT. There was a big blowup, and I said some ugly things to my wife and daughters -- things I deeply regret.
My wife told me that you had written something about anger. Can you tell me what it was and how I can get it? I'm serious about changing my behavior before it escalates. -- JAMES IN FORT WAYNE, IND.
DEAR JAMES: I congratulate you for recognizing that you have a problem and for deciding to do something about it. I'm pleased that you are not one of those who become physical when pressure or frustration build to the breaking point.
However, it is important that you get to the triggers that cause you to become verbally abusive to your family, because the damage caused by hurtful words can last a lifetime.
My booklet, "The Anger in All of Us, and How to Deal With It," contains tips and insights that should be helpful for you in redirecting those unhealthy habits into acceptable ways of expressing your emotions. You can order it by sending a business-size, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $6 (U.S. funds) to Dear Abby -- Anger Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. Shipping and handling are included in the price.
Anger can be a healthy emotion -- but not if the anger is controlling you and hurting the people you love.