Taming the Anger Dragon: From Pissed Off to Peaceful – I’ve been there!

Thomas E. Ziemann doesn’t look angry. In fact, he looks (and seems) very Zen.

I originally followed him on Facebook. A dear friend of mine had passed away and he graciously opened his home for Sylvester, one of her cats. He’s a cat man. My husband is a cat man, too. Cat men rock!

I remember reading that Tom had anger issues and it surprised me because – well, it’s been said – he takes in cats, looks kind and quickly became one of my favorite friends on Facebook. How could a guy like that have anger issues?

Then I read Taming the Anger Dragon: From Pissed off to Peaceful… and I understood. And by “understood” I mean… “shared his struggle and came out the other side, as he has”.

Hi, I’m Sheryl. I’ve been pissed off – a lot – and found a measure of peace. Still a struggle, sometimes. Not gonna lie.

More than once, as I read his book, I found myself looking from side-to-side in case anyone was looking at me, laughing to myself in recognition. I saw a reflection of myself… over and over again.

Tom talks about ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder), ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyper Activity Disorder), OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder) and BPAD (Bi-Polar Affective Disorder; formerly known as Manic Depression) working together to form the perfect storm in his body. I share his diagnoses, except for BPAD. Throw in a big dose of Major Depressive Disorder and Anxiety, instead. And my OCD is “borderline” and works in concert with my anxiety.

Makes me realize that people like us go searching and write or do art (or carve – this guy is a gifted artist in a very natural medium – pumpkins! And he donates to charity. Man, he’s something else!). Oh Lord, I lost my place… where was I? Oh yes, people like us go searching for help and stumble across like-minded sufferers and survivors… and it’s like … sigh… you’re home, among your people. Tom is my people.

I laughed out loud – albeit uncomfortably – as I read about Tom’s “road rage”… because yep, once again, BTDT. Neither of us hurt anyone on the road… but both of us followed someone home. Yikes! I also scared the snot out of my friend Eileen, when I stopped the car in front of someone who had his nose in my lane, and leaned over her lap to scream at the other driver through the open passenger window. Good times. Not.

Ziemann tackles the origins of anger, specific anger triggers and, yes, strategies for Taming the Dragon. His book is also filled with appreciation for those who have traveled this path before him and have shared their experiences. There’s plenty here for everyone!

This book is filled with personal stories and exercises… and it reads like a conversation with a mentor… who also happens to be a good friend. Ziemann’s vulnerability, spirituality and calm (Ah, that “Zen” again!) are woven throughout like a familiar thread, pulling it all together.

I would be remiss not to mention that there is a definite spiritual component to this book… and it’s very welcome. It isn’t cloying, pushy or judgmental. Just helpful.

Towards the end of the book, Ziemann talks about one of my favorite topics: Legacy. He says: “The measure of your life is not its duration but its donation.” I love that! An angry person donates anger… and anger begats anger… it’s a never-ending circle of pain. Unless you tame that Dragon.

Yes, Tom Ziemann is a friend of mine. If he wasn’t, I’d say all the same things. This book is a keeper!

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