Anger: The Need to Control the Fire Within
Uncontrolled Anger Hurts
The more he talks, the more you want to slap him unconscious. Your boss's voice is grating on your nerves as he reprimands you for a small detail left out of a proposal you wrote. There was also a page missing. You swallow hard several times to keep from jumping on him and beating him until his brother screams. You want to get up from your seat in front of his desk and hit him in the forehead with one of his paperweights.
As he continues his rant, you can see white spittle gathering in the corners of his turned up mouth. He berates you just loud enough for the other employees outside the door to hear. He explains the effects if he had sent it out before reading it over. Just at the point where you’ve had enough of your boss’s verbal abuse, he stops. All is quiet. “Well, what happened?” He looks at you expecting a reply.
Your boss really doesn’t want to know what happened. People make mistakes. You did not do it on purpose. He knows you have been working on the presentation night and day for over two weeks. You have been a loyal employee for over five years. He screams at you because, had it gone out as given, there would have been ramifications on him. He is angry, and he thinks he can get away with his tirade, and most of the time he does.
He knows you need the job. Everyone can make a mistake. Still, in your opinion, his response is inappropriate for a supervisor. You want to spit in his face for words he uses that you think are unnecessary, undignified, and unprofessional. If you could just move fast enough to grab that glass paperweight…
Instead, what you do is re-channel your anger. You apologize for the omissions. You tell him you were busy trying to meet deadline. You had looked it over several times before giving it to him. You will review all of the documents again. After mean-mugging you, your boss dismisses you from his office. You in turn, resent him and will never forget how he made you feel.
Your cheeks are red as you stare forward as you leave his office. You ignore everyone looking for you to cry. You are so angry you are shaking. You show no emotion as you pass by your colleagues to your cubicle. On the way, you make a strong cup of coffee and return to your desk. You feel so angry you think you are going to explode. Your heart is racing, and you can feel the veins in your head grow wider and hotter. What can you do with all the anger you feel inside?
You go home still doing a slow burn. When you enter your house, you see your unemployed husband playing video games in the living room. He is absorbed, and slips you a “Hi, honey” as he continues to play. You put down your keys and purse, and walk slowly over to him. He puts the game on pause and asks if you brought take-out for dinner. You tell him no as you go into the kitchen. If you didn’t have a massive migraine, you would brain him with the video controller he has in his hands. You get a glass of wine and go to your bedroom to change your clothes. What a horrible day.
When a person says or does something that triggers massive anger, it is very difficult to control. Back at work, you felt disrespected and provoked. He knows you have been in a strained fix, as he had denied you a promotion last month. Why would he behave the way he did? What possessed him to fix his lips, disrespect and berate you as if he had that right? You feel wronged.
Anger comes from feeling out of control of a situation. No one likes to be disrespected. No one likes to feel used. No one wants to be reprimanded within earshot of others. When you feel you don’t have the same ability to flame off on the other person, your capacity to fight-or-flight is in jeopardy. You feel helpless, and your emotions burn out of control. You can’t think straight.
Anger is a pressure cooker waiting to explode. Sometimes anger can exist, festering inside, for a while before a person acts on it. Think of the former employee who returns to the job with revenge on his mind. Uncontrolled anger is a destructive emotion. As civilized human beings, the appropriate control of destructive emotions is necessary to co-exist.
Many people are able to control the fire within them. They take a long walk, smoke a cigarette, or have a glass of wine. Others break from the stress and unload on whomever is around at the time. A family member may receive the brunt of anger initiated somewhere else. For the employee, when a boss behaves like a demon, you have a choice. Say something, find another job, or let it go.
It doesn’t matter whether it’s at work, during Thanksgiving dinner, at a family reunion, etc. Anger makes you say or do things out of character. A red face, shaking, cursing, and screaming are all characteristics of anger. Uncontrolled anger can make you psychologically ill. It could make you a bully. Controlled anger drains the spirit and requires an awesome effort.
Historically, angry people have caused wars, murder, mayhem, physical devastation, rejection, and emotional abuse. It is wise to put extreme anger in check. Don’t let anger become your reputation. If you can’t respond to your anger in a rational manner, you should try to keep your anger to yourself. As former U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell once said, “Get mad, then get over it.”
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