I’ve known anger in my life. But I never thought much about it.
Then recently I read somewhere that when you allow yourself to become angry, it’s because you’re judging the other person and holding them to YOUR standards, even when they may have no idea what those standards are. Basically, you’re angry because they have failed to meet your expectations.
This stopped me in my tracks for a few days.
I reflected on the times that I have been angry at other people and yes, it was often because they didn’t “perform” to my standards. (Realistically, though, in a business environment or working in a group, you can often be in a diverse group with different skill sets, attitudes and, yes, standards. It’s easy to see how some members of the group could become angry or frustrated with the one of more of the other members. So let’s disregard that situation).
What we need to look at is a general situation where you get angry because you run out of patience for people who don’t see things YOUR way. What strikes me about this is, who says that YOUR way is the best? Could you be guilty of having unrealistically high standards, or just being impatient? I hate to say it, but angry people could also be control freaks! Consider how your anger looks to other people when you fly off the handle at the slightest thing. Someone cuts you off in traffic and you go into full blown road rage mode. You mutter under your breath every time you have to stand in line (stay away from Disney World!). Oh no, the laundry hasn’t been folded!
I was very, very lucky to have a mother who was never angry (hard to believe, but true).
In fact, I noticed that she would sometimes have to PRETEND to be angry to try to stop the squabbling of her children. You knew she was being serious when she said, “Have you said your prayers today?” (The idea being that we would be guilt-stricken because we had failed to count our blessings that day. I don’t think it worked very well!). She always pointed out the other person’s point of view. The important thing that I learned from her is to try not to judge another person (not saying that I have succeeded but at least I’m aware of what I SHOULD do…). Everyone is different and deserves to be treated with equal respect. I think she’d have made a great diplomat.
But going back to regular people like you and me, are we supposed to prevent ourselves from becoming angry? How does someone stop themselves feeling something like anger? Can we really control a gut reaction?
Agreed there will be times when you really SHOULD be angry. If you are being disrespected, demeaned, taken advantage of, abused, not treated fairly – you feel angry, and I think you have the right to be. But much of the time, these “anger issues” are just inconveniences. Instead of reacting and getting heated, we should take the time to reflect on what really matters.
As long as we treat one another with respect, we’ll be cool.
About the Author
Marilyn Deen is a PR/marketing communications professional based in Fort Lauderdale, FL. She has created and managed effective campaigns for tourism, disaster response and youth development for corporations and community benefit organizations in the US and internationally. She currently owns MARKUS Writing, you can follow her on Facebook and Twitter.
Photo by Greg Westfall