A school teacher said to me recently that kids don’t get as angry these days – there are less physical altercations than a few decades ago when he was at school. Instead they get sad. These days we are supposed to be nice and kind and polite all the time, so anger is certainly frowned upon. Anger is suppressed. Someone once said that depression is rage turned inwards.
I look back to my 20’s and now realise just how angry I was at times. Oh well – it’s a distant incarnation but I do have regrets about my behaviour. I remember one particular time when travelling with some people – it was a trip of business and pleasure. In the group was a wheeling, dealing businessman. I will call him Jack. He was basically a good bloke but he had the tendency to belittle everybody. Not in a nasty way but in jest. But during this time Jack cranked it up a notch – especially to me.
Now I normally didn’t mind so much because it’s ok to have a bit of fun with your mates and not to take things too seriously. But this went on for a bit too long and I started to get really annoyed. It got to the point where I couldn’t take it any longer and I blew up – I got very angry and ripped into him – right in front of his kids and everybody. The people around were quite shocked because I really didn’t hold back. Jack was quite a bit older and I don’t think he had ever been challenged in such an aggressive way from a little whippersnapper like me.
That evening Jack took me aside and chatted to me about the terrible event. He never apologised for his constant belittling, but he did quietly talk to me about how it’s not a good look to get angry like I did in front people – especially his kids. I apologised, genuinely feeling bad about what I had done. For many years after that Jack never belittled me again – ever. He still belittled other people, but never me.
Could I have handled it better? Maybe I needed to blow up to make Jack understand that I wasn’t going to take it anymore. Or maybe if I had of taken him aside, asking him quietly to stop he may have obliged. Probably not but I don’t really know. But anyway it is what it is. We continued our business relationship for many years and he was very good to me and I to him.
So anger can be used as a weapon. It can be used to get what you want in life. People chuck wobblies all the time to manipulate a situation. But we know ultimately that’s self-defeating. And if you’re getting angry all the time then that’s a problem as you’re releasing too much of the stress hormone cortisol – public enemy number one they say. But if you get angry once in a while to release energy then that’s different, as after all it’s human to get crapped off. But it must be directed properly and in the right setting.
So don’t bottle it up – get it off your chest. You can do it at the football match or chopping wood, or you can blame the budgie for your life’s problems. Taking it out on your friends and loved ones almost invariably makes things worse. You may get short term success but you almost certainly will get longer term regret.
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Categories: Love and Relationships