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Handling and Expressing Anger
last updated:
Tue, 7/06/2010 10:23 AM

Anger is an emotion that we experience in a variety of situations and sometimes when we least expect it. Learning how to express anger appropriately starts in childhood. However, we have many opportunities along the journey of life to learn how to handle anger.

The Fence
author unknown

There was a little boy with a bad temper. His father gave him a bag of nails and told him that every time he lost his temper, to hammer a nail in the fence. The first day the boy had driven 37 nails into the fence. As each day went by, the number began to gradually dwindle down. He discovered that it was easier to hold his temper than to drive those nails into the fence.

Finally the day came when the boy didn’t lose his temper at all. He told his father about it and the father suggested that the boy now pull out one nail for each day that he was able to hold his temper. The days passed and the young boy was finally able to tell his father that all the nails were gone.

The father took his son by the hand and led him to the fence. He said, “You have done well, son, but look at the holes in the fence. The fence will never be the same. When you say things in anger, they leave a scar just like these scars.”

What is said in seconds can take years to heal from. Protect your relationships by using a kinder language such as “I” talk. (“I wish you wouldn’t do that.”) Avoid name calling and put downs. Apologize sincerely if you do make communication blunders. Verbal wounds will heal over time if new behavior and language patterns are developed and practiced. Never quit trying to treat others better.

If you have difficulty managing your anger, please consider contacting the Methodist Le Bonheur Healthcare Employee Assistance Program at 901.683.5658 or 800.880.5658.


Brian Long is a Liscensed Professional Counselor with the Methodist Employee Assistance Program. All opinions expressed here are those of their authors and not of their employer. Information provided here is for medical education only. It is not intended as and does not substitute for medical advice. Counselors are available to you at 901.683.5658.


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Methodist Healthcare is an integrated health care delivery system, dedicated to the art of healing through our faith-based commitment to minister to the whole person. 1211 Union Avenue, Memphis, Tennessee 38104 • (901) 516-7000