I have come to realise that I am an angry person. Not all the time, by any means, but when I think about it, the first reaction is usually NO and when that meets resistance, the second is an outburst. Given time to think about something, no may turn into yes, but time is a rare commodity in human interactions. People don’t give you time to think. And time is an important factor to my anger.
I’m also a very nice person. I offer to help – too much for some – I do what I can for people, and I try to do the right thing as often as it comes up. Growing up, I did as I was told most of the time, went to healthy afterschool activities, and helped around the house and with the pets.
This happy, peaceful childhood was regularly shattered by huge arguments between me and any member of my immediate family.
Now, growing up, I was a very creative kid. There was nothing I liked more than to please myself, swimming in the sound of the piano, concentrating on the details of something I was painting, and running around a world of books. I liked all these things better than being outside, going to choir, playing hockey, and everything else that I did.
But whenever my peace was interrupted, that’s when hell was set loose. Shouted down for dinner, doing chores, and the endless onslaught of little brother. They could never stay out of the dining room when I was playing the piano.
I’m still like that now, just muted a little with experience. Reactionary.
Why the reaction?
The reaction happens because I get a rush of adrenaline that pours out of my stomach and sweeps over my head. Adrenaline is a stress hormone. It has the power to get you out of sticky situations and can even give you physical strength to fight. Fight or flight, right?
But why does it come just because I’ve been interrupted at something I’m doing? I’m immediately stressed by the interruption. Why?
I’ve come to the conclusion that I value my time alone very highly indeed. I have a habit I can date as far back as being 6 years old where I stand back and let other people have what they want first. I do it with nearly everything unless I think about it beforehand. Often, even then I still do it. So when I get a chance to be alone and to please myself in some way, that time is valued. Massively.
So when it’s interrupted or stopped, that’s when I go bang. Somehow the interruption actually threatens me. Not just my activity.
Time isn’t the only issue here. Time to myself is one of my needs. There are other places where my anger pops up, and often it is down to rejection – of me or my ideas. My endless need for validation – for someone else to say I’m good, that my work is good, that my efforts are worthwhile, that I’m someone worth knowing – is dented very badly by rejection, to the point that I don’t even offer a bag of sweeties to someone if I think that they might not like them.
And why do I need to be validated by other people? Who knows? My family has a lot of individuals who are quite critical of themselves and others, but I’m not interested in laying blame or fault at anyone’s feet. It’s an environmental hazard that should have been sidestepped and wasn’t.
And finally, there’s also a source of anger in fear. Fear makes me insecure, and insecurity makes me angry, because I become defensive of my situation. I defend by fighting, not flighting. I run away from people, but I don’t run away from situations. If I’m afraid I’m going to lose something or someone, or if I’m afraid of physical danger, I become angry.
How to counter the anger
I realised today that even the endless sarcasm I use on other drivers when I’m on the road is a form of anger. They threaten my safety with their manoeuvres and I jab at them with words. Sometimes its funny, sometimes its angry, but it’s all negative vibes.
I decided that a simple, everyday way forward would be to counteract the low level anger first. Every time I see someone driving in a way that doesn’t make me feel good, I will say ‘bright blessings on you.’ I could also say ‘love and light’ or something.
I guess it’s positivity by rote but it has to be better than letting niggling meannesses into my head. Hopefully it will bleed positivity into the larger aspects of my life.
I’m also meditating on the issue, hoping that peace will come my way more easily if I open the channels better.
How do you think your own anger could be countered?
Image c/o Kristin Elmquist fineartamerica.com