I sometimes wish that I was “better” at getting angry. Take yesterday for example. I showed up for a wire-wrapping workshop that I had signed up for, only to find out that the teacher was a no-show. Annoying, right?!? Especially since I had organized my schedule around this workshop. I ended up waiting for 30 minutes to see if the instructor was running late and then went home. The girl at the till was apologetic and I told her not to worry about it because it wasn’t her fault. Yes, I had a handful of other things – including working on two presentations – that I could now do with the time that opened up, but I “wasted” about an hour between getting to the workshop and waiting to see if it was on, not to mention saying “no” to a meeting request that would have been beneficial professionally. Annoying. But not anger inducing. Yet it left me with the thought that “I wish I got angry more often.”
Why? I’m not sure. I’m trying to process this thought myself. I think that the last time I got angry was a couple of weekends ago when I was at a party. One of my closest friends brought up an “incident” that I had a couple of years ago with someone that he was now friends with. He kept pushing the need for me and this person to make amends, and after trying unsuccessfully to get him to drop the issue, I finally became angry, which effectively put a stop to the conversation. What felt good about getting angry? Well, it finally made my friend “drop” what we were talking about and I guess that in a way, it kind of felt nice to have that momentary rush of anger-driven energy flow through my body. The good feeling didn’t last very long though, because I felt bad about getting angry soon after it happened.
I don’t like bullying or scaring people into seeing my point. I don’t like raising my voice in order to make my point – saying something louder doesn’t make it more true. And to be honest, I know that the moment I begin to raise my voice, I’ve reverted down to speaking from my Ego. If I’ve let my Ego take control of the situation, then I’m no longer speaking from the place of my Authentic Self – or, put another way – the moment I lose control of my temper, I’m no longer speaking about my feelings/what’s actually bothering me, but speaking from a place that just wants to lash out and defend myself or hurt like I feel hurt. It may feel good to make someone hurt the way I am hurting, but it’s not actually getting at the root of what my problem with the situation is… and so it’s really not solving anything… it’s just a band-aid solution/temporary feeling of satisfaction from knowing that the other person now feels crappy too.
So then, why do I wish I was “better” at getting angry? In the past, I used to fall into the trap of dating very fiery and volatile people. Why? Well, I AM an air sign, but I think a lot of it had to do with the fact that I appreciated the emotional expressivity that came along with the reactivity. There wasn’t much guess work in terms of how my partner was feeling – which I admired in a way, because I used to be very emotionally guarded and closed. This statement might be surprising to people who now know me or follow this blog, but being emotionally “open” – being an emotional cuttlefish – is not second nature to me. It is a conscious choice that I have made and something that I work at daily. I’ve also realized that there is a big difference between emotionally honest and volatile – to be emotionally honest is to be an open book, whereas to be volatile is to be reactive and often times not actually emotionally honest. You can probably guess which of the two I now look for in a partner.
So, why do I wish I was better at getting angry? Thinking through this all, I guess that what I really wish was that I was better at expressing what I’m feeling. No, a situation does not necessarily make me “angry,” but just because I’m not “angry” doesn’t mean I don’t care. I do care. In fact, I think that I usually feel disappointed instead of angry. So I think that maybe next time I feel disappointed, or feel like I should be angry, I’m going to make myself say out loud “this situation makes me feel __________ and this is what I want done about it ______________.” And what if I don’t necessarily want or think that there is something to be “done about it?” Then I’ll say, “and I just want to verbalize how I’m feeling.” Oh shit, I think I’ve just pushed myself to a new level of being emotionally honest with myself… and others…
** What in the world do I mean by emotional cuttlefish? Click here to read an old post explaining why we could all stand to be more like cuttlefish. **
Great blog, great thoughts.
I think maybe disappointment is more effective than anger – for me, anger often leads to a loss of control. Not all-over-the-place loss of control, but more the, I end up saying things that might be better left unsaid, or phrased differently when in a calmer moment. Disappointment is possibly more restrained.
Hey Angie! Thanks for the feedback. I totally agree – it’s a lot easier to be brash when angry. Something that I’ve noticed about the feeling of disappointment is that because it’s a lot more restrained and easy to internalize, it sometimes leads me to not verbalize how the situation has made me feel, which also takes away from finding a constructive solution to the issue at hand. Expressivity, not reactivity! That’ll be my mantra for the week.