Have you ever witnessed someone’s emotions/actions just boil over and sat there wondering who crapped in their Cornflakes? Dealing with anger seems to be an ever growing part of our society. Why are we so frustrated? Where is this all coming from? How do we deal with it and help remove it from our own lives? These questions were running through my mind after I met some friends for dinner a few evenings ago.
As we caught up with each others lives, the conversation moved to food and being healthier. My one friend inquired about where I find a certain food product so I told her. Then suddenly her face changed and she started spewing hatred…and I don’t mean dislike, I mean hatred…you know, the kind where you want to duck because you are sure spittle is coming soon as they are so passionate about what they are saying. What was enraged topic you may be wondering?
She was talking about how much she hates some groceries stores. Her body language changed and she was clenching her fists.
Imagine my surprise! Sure there are some things about groceries stores that don’t envelope me in love but I can calmly discuss them. After a few minutes of spittle…yes, I did say a few minutes…I looked at my other friend across the table and he had the same look – quiet DISBELIEF!
So using humor to move the conversation along, I finally interrupted and said, “Well, let’s pretend you’ve already purchased the Quinoa and have it in your kitchen.” I then proceeded to keep the conversation away from groceries stores at all cost!
As I lay in bed later that night, I wondered what was she REALLY angry about? Because all of that could NOT be about grocery stores and I do know she is not happy in other areas of her life.
It is a trend I have noticed over the years. People are disproportionately angry about events or things in their lives (like grocery stores). Some times it makes sense like getting upset over someone beating a child or animal…but to pull a gun out and shoot someone because they cut you off in traffic? In my opinion, that level of anger/frustration must have come from some other area in their lives.
After much reading, analyzing and processing over the years, I have an opinion as to why people act in this way. Let me see if I can explain my thoughts in some sort of coherent manner…
Some people do not express their true feelings in the moment of feeling them. Why? Because of the fear of being invalidated or challenged – to have someone tell you that you are wrong to feel that way…being made to feel stupid. It is easier not to express emotions sometimes because then you don’t have to defend your position.
We suppress that emotion only to have it appear in some other unrelated area of our lives because unexpressed anger/frustration/emotion doesn’t usually disappear.
Have you ever been unjustly treated (example yelled at) by an employer?…taken the mistreatment silently, become internally frustrated only to find yourself yelling at traffic on your way home?
Ok, you caught me. I have done that in the past. The unexpressed anger/frustration I felt from work carried over on to the poor sap who changed lanes in front of me without signaling…so I felt justified in giving him the bird and a few choice words because hey, he didn’t signal! And nor could he confront me – lucky for me…
Do you notice times in your life when you have gone off the handle only to look back and think, “Wow, what was that about? What was I thinking?” Take note in areas of your life where you get really overly emotional and ask yourself if your response is appropriate? Are there times where you are not expressing yourself?
Do you find safe situations to over express yourself in an unchallenged arena? Do you unintentionally save your build up of anger to be spewed at someone who can’t defend themselves? Like screaming at the TV because some pro ball player struck out…or even worse, at a child who knows if they even utter a word in response is going to get their butt smacked.
I am not saying this is an absolute in every situation…what I am suggesting is for you to take a closer look at your life.
I found the answer for me when dealing with anger is to feel what you need to feel at the time it is happening. Example: Many years ago, I had a project manager yell at me because my laptop didn’t work after having it was returned from Tech Ops. I yelled right back at him telling him that I was following orders from HIS boss to have my laptop upgraded to the correct version and that he had no right to be yelling at me. He stopped and blinked at me for a few seconds. He calmed down…said a few syllables like, “Ok” and then walked away. He never yelled at me again although he did continue to yell at others. It felt good to stand up for myself (and a little scary) and show him I was not going to be treated unfairly…and guess what…I didn’t yell at traffic on the way home!