Anger in action


Another brand new cloudy and somewhat sunny day.   What magic are you going to perform on to-days slivery stage?

I am 35 days without coffee and no major urge to have some to-day so far…..onwards I go……

When did you last witness your own or others anger in action?    I can think of three anger events of recent times in my life;

I was about to board a plane to Dublin from Nice airport in France, when the attendant asked me if they could put ‘my bag’ in the hole, as the plane was very full and there would not be enough place in the overhead locker for all hand luggage.  I was third in the boarding queue.  I immediately went on the offensive, as other people were passing me by with their bags and no one was asking them to put their bag in the hole.   My body raced between a fight or flight response and the chemical reaction in my body were preparing me for both options.  I argued with the attendant for a brief moment and thought: why are you asking me, are you going to ask everyone else in the queue the same question?  I have complied with all the airlines request; I booked online, checked-in online and I was ready to board when my seat row was announced.  I was a good citizen.  So why pick on me.”  I was agitated now and told her I didn’t want to put my bag in the hole; “You have the flight details of all the customers who will be going to the carousel to pick up their luggage, I am not one of them so why ask me.” She didn’t respond to any of my questions, and eventually, after 3 minutes or so I relented. My accommodating self was saying ‘get a grip Áinne, it doesn’t matter if you have to collect your bag, you make her day ok, your day ok,  and you are kind enough to let others have the space you would have had, if you had your bag on board the plane.   On the other hand my monkey mind was furiously working out all I could do: report her to the airline for her unfairness, ignore all the attendances glances, if my bag didn’t arrive in Dublin I would sue them for all that was in my bag etc.  The two selves were still at it as I settled in my seat.   The monkey mind was waiting to see if the same attendant was on the flight and if she was I would totally ignore her, and make rude faces at her etc.   My accommodating self was getting my book out to read and was calm and collected.  There was still some anger in my body.  It was another ten minutes  before I let go completely of the event.  My anger did not serve me, but in order to satisfy myself I did write to the airline and suggested that any persons who were collecting baggage at the carousel,  should also leave their hand luggage with the attendant if the plane was full.   That I thought was a reasonable reaction.

The second event I observed and was part of, was when my friend and I got lost driving into a city we kindda knew.  We had to drop off one of our bags to rented accommodation, return our car to a rent-a-car office and get to an airport for a scheduled flight to another destination.   We were running late.  My friend was driving and I was navigating.  I missed a turn.  My friend asked me to ring the rented accommodation to know how to get to their place.  The instructions were not right so we got lost again and time was pressing on.  My friend was getting very agitated, I was doing the best I could in the tense situation, so I rang again and this time the owner of the rented accommodation came out to show us the way to their place.   By the time we arrived there my friend was really angry and expressed it to me and the owner who knew nothing about what was going on in the car and was aghast by the outburst as was I.   I smoothed the situation over for now.   It was misplaced anger.   There was no call for the onslaught on a person we had never met before.  He didn’t know we were in a hurry etc.  By the time we got to the rent-a-car office we were not talking.   We got a lift to the airport and made our flight.  I had suggested when we first got lost to drive to the airport and drop the car off there, ask the owner of the accommodation to pick up our bag at the airport or leave it in left-luggage in the airport and have no further stress.   That suggestion was not heard and I didn’t agree to follow our original plan and we both emotionally went our own way in our minds, which did not help the situation.  We didn’t listen, acknowledge or agree to what would be best to do in this scenario.  Time was not on our side.  This lead to anger and tension that was not necessary in a time that could have been enjoyable.  We were not acting as a team.   That takes practice!

The third situation was another friend booking a flight and involving me in the process.  She rang the company to confirm and was taking down the details and needed a web site to look at which I opened.   She lost the plot, because she wanted the web site she already had opened.   She got very angry.   Then she thought she was going to be late for her train and asked me to accompany her, foolishly I agreed.  Her angry and tension continued all the way to the station and continued as she got on.  Later she text to say she was sorry etc.   I had no idea why she reacted with such anger and where it was coming from.

In the first situation I handled my anger somewhere between flight and fight.   I was in control of my anger within minutes in a public way, however, it did continue inside of me for a further fifteen minutes.  The attendant had a job to do; get us all on the plane so we didn’t loose our departure slot and I was not going to be the person to delay that process.  That consideration was what got me to ‘quench’ my anger and move on.  In the second situation I was stunned by the amount of anger and went silent.  In the third situation I passed the anger back to where it belonged.   What have I gleaned from the situations two and three?  Both friends have a ‘well of anger’ that comes up over and over in various situations that don’t really warrant it.   I go silent and name the effect the anger has on me but the way to deal with it the next time has not been negotiated.   Anger did not serve our friendship in either situation.   One friend was out of control and let anger govern the situation.   The other friend acknowledged that her anger was misplaced and that she had a lot of work to do to understand why she reacts in this way each time she is under pressure.

In our own personal planet there are patterns of behaviour, attitudes, thinking, feelings and habits we have developed throughout our life.    When we are developing new friendships we bounce our personal planets off each other.  We have no idea how we are going to react towards each other and ourselves in various situations until they happen.  The memories we store tell stories about others and ourselves and we accumulate them on a daily basis.   We develop perceptions about each other from these memories.  Reflect on angry memories you have; where you or someone else was angry and how you think and feel about it.  An angry response is a symptom of something deeper going on inside of our own personal planet.  Some anger is necessary but most of the time our anger is misplaced and unnecessary if it causes hurt to us and/or others.  What is our anger about?   Where does it come from?   What triggers it?  What can you do about it?  If the friendships are important to us, if we are important to ourselves, then lets do the personal mining on our own personal planet.

Don’t forget to wear your smile…….

Every criticism, judgment, diagnosis, and expression of anger is the tragic expression of an unmet need. – Marshall Rosenberg

If we could learn to like ourselves, even a little, maybe our cruelties and angers might melt away. – John Steinbeck

It’s never what people do that makes us angry; it’s what we tell ourselves about what they did. – Marshall Rosenberg

©Copyright The Possible Self 2012

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