Short Fuse

A state commonly called “overwhelm,” when we just… snap. In a world where people get angry all the time over all sorts of things — getting lost while going somewhere new, having to wait a wee bit longer, a meeting not turned out right — and that’s seen as perfectly valid. However, there are better ways to deal with that “stimulus” than to get angry. If we can control it at work, we can control it at home, right? ‘Cos it impacts us and to people around us — whether we like or not. There are moments when one is quick to anger and just can’t freakin’ cope. Yes, we all lose our tempers from time to time…whoever happens to be there, that’s who gets it. And then we have to apologize and ask what we can do to make it up. It’s not a character flaw, it’s a chemical imbalance.

A lot of people feel like “venting” frustration by acting it out – slamming a few doors and doing a little stomping and cussing – is a healthy way to restore emotional equilibrium. But it’s NOT. Acting up this way increases the feeling of frustration, and makes one even more irritated than they were originally. A healthier response to frustration is to acknowledge, “Wow, I feel frustrated.” It’s important in any relationship to try to keep a  civil tongue in your head, no matter what the reason for the temper.

First we weep, we grieve and then that grief often gives way to anger. It is okay to feel all those emotions; it is part of human nature. What is important is that we deal with our emotions in a positive, constructive manner. Violence leads to more violence, hated breeds more hate, revenge does not bring us true happiness. There is a huge difference between not being able to handle anger and not tolerating frustration.  The former is dangerous, the latter is only dangerous when there are things being thrown.

Some would be angry (not destructive, just visibly angry) while some would start crying at drop of a hat on the slightest shift in tone. All kinds of feelings which aren’t being properly identified and expressed can get channeled into anger.  Taking time to actually identify and have those feelings is key to making some changes. This is not “bottling it up.” Bottling involves continuing to work your mood on the inside. The key here is, don’t work the mood but change it.

Some rage because they are incapable of handling life’s little quirks…and I wonder, why do I have to be the one who sucks it up over and over just because I AM capable of coping? I think I’d say, “When you get like this, it makes me as miserable as you are and I feel like an innocent victim.” As a kid one doesn’t have control over how one is treated.  But as an adult?  Yes, we do and being the unwilling recipient of someone’s frustration on a regular basis is (way) over my line of what I’d stay around for.  There are plenty of less sensitive people out there that might not mind at all.  That’s ok, just not me  (Lesson well learnt after having dealt with Mr. Wonderful). I don’t expect people to change to suit me.

Spiritual people advice to get into the heart of those feelings. But it is not really that simple…or is it? If you’re the “right” person and you get angry for “the right reasons” in “the right way”, then the “solution” is to deal with the cause of your anger and whatever caused it is “wrong” and you are seen as a “victim”.  If however you are seen as a “wrong” person who gets angry for “the wrong reasons” and your anger manifests itself in “the wrong ways” then the “solution” is to essentially force you to accept all this, and to accept that YOU need to change. But you have to want it and you have to want to make the change.

One has to battle their own demons to get to a happier place. It takes time and it takes effort; mostly it’s about learning to be mindful, catch yourself, recognize the patterns and stop them, before you get into the cycle. For me, the motivation was looking in the mirror and being embarrassed to see someone who couldn’t manage their emotions. One needs to remember that you will never become the right person to get angry. And once you are angry, that’s pretty-much it, you’re angry.

For me, I have learnt to explore the “dances” I engage in and to disengage from the anger — going out for a walk, watch my favorite show, indulge in my hobby, simply sleeping over it, try to find the humor in it — anything but throwing a tantrum and acting out the frustration. That’s my “safe” place until I have found a more appropriate time, place and method for “unleashing the beast”. When in a bad mood, I let people around me know and request to leave me alone. Nobody should have to deal with someone else’s bad mood, but neither should an individual be made to feel like they have to put on a happy face around their loved ones. Compromises are possible.

One needs to take their own responsibility — for both the door-slammer and the door-slam-jumper. — because over time this can become your new habit. No remorse often equates to no change in behavior.

Anger begins and ends with ourselves. Ofcourse, there are certain situations that cause a lot of anger, where reconciliation with the cause of conflict is not the appropriate answer. Probably that’s why the old adage, “Don’t cry over spilt milk” has stuck around for so long. tears added to the milk just means more liquid to sop up.

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