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Pitching a fit: a grand old southern tradition

Updated on September 11, 2013

Anger Management

Those cat fights can get you in more trouble than they are worth
Those cat fights can get you in more trouble than they are worth | Source
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Sometimes even fake choking someone can relieve pent up frustrations. | Source
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Face it, we are all a little witchy sometimes... | Source

It isn't cool to be a hothead, but it's better to blow off a little steam than to explode without warning

Babies do it, animals do it, grown ups do it too. If you visit YouTube you will see countless people pitching a fit or throwing a fit, so who are they pitching it too and do you really want to catch it when they toss it your way?

It seems when people get angry they prefer to get angry in front of an audience. I think this is why all the anger management resources tell you that when you feel yourself losing your cool, you need to go off somewhere by yourself and chill out and then return with a smile on your face as if the incident that upset you never happened.

This has worked so well for me that I have been fired from two jobs for doing it. The technique of walking away to cool down so you won't say or do anything to hurt someone or something does not work well in the professional arena where it is seen as rude, to walk away from a boss who is screaming at you and pertinent to tell them that you will come back at a later date after they have had time to think about their behavior. Bosses do not typically like to be told what to do by employers, but should you just stand there and take the abuse when you feel you did nothing wrong or are being unjustly accused of something you did not do?

In such cases you need to learn to walk away in your mind while smiling stupidly at the person or object making you angry. Telling jokes to yourself works wonders and seeing the humor in the situation works even better at diffusing the fit of anger from ever making it to the pitcher's hand where he can lob that sucker at the first poor fool that dares oppose the wrath of...

Oh yeah, ha ha, just kidding folks!

Let's face it, people have hot tempers all over the world. Latinos are so famous for their hot tempers that they have actually had shows centered around it to entertain viewers.

Politicians seem to make better politicians when the get angry and aggressively defend their constituents. Anger is often associated with passion and drive and courage, but let's face it, sometimes our anger makes us say and do hurtful things or feel such powerfully negative emotions that we are actually a little afraid of ourselves and wonder what me might be cable of doing if the person or thing pushing us to anger does not take the warning and back away before we explode in a fit of rage that will be difficult at best to contain.

Those of us who own four legged pets know this explosion point very well, especially cat owners who know that when their cat gives them that flattened ear, squinted eye look, they better back away or prepare to be attacked. Anger can be a defensive mechanism that actually comes in handy, but again, in a professional work environment it really has no place.

People who are aggressive and pitch fits tend to be seen as good leaders but only if they temper their temper with logic and reason.

In other words, it is okay to pitch a fit if you are doing it for a righteous or good cause, like to prevent the factory from polluting the only water source in town or refusing to pay twenty three hundred dollars to the phone company for your child's cell phone use for one month.

It is also seen as perfectly fine to pitch a fit when your favorite sports team loses at the national level, though not okay to do so if your son is on the losing peewee team.

There really is an art to pitching a fit and southerners know how to do it oh so well, that an unsuspecting northerner might even think they were being complemented when they were actually being put down.

"Honey, I just love that new style you have developed with the dark tan and the cigarette hanging out of your mouth. You remind me so much of my dear Uncle Frank right before he passed away with skin cancer and lung disease, bless his sweet heart. Don't you even worry about the lungs of that poor sweet two year old that is coughing right beside you, you go right ahead and express your opinions in public no matter what anybody else thinks or says about you, okay now?"

Anyone who blows their cool and starts yelling at someone or calling names is just being impolite, immature, controlling and hurtful. If you pick up something and throw it or kick in the side of something or punch holes in the wall, you are showing the world how little self control you have and it is embarrassing to act like a spoiled child when you don't get your way, but sometimes, if you can keep your cool by blowing off steam without exploding, being a hot head comes in handy.

The first rule of pitching a fit is to take aim.

Let's say you are in a crowded room at the doctor's office and you had an appointment for 10:30. It is now noon and the doctor still hasn't seen you. Three other people who came in after you were taken in first. You could argue that one was just coming in for blood work and another just to drop off a stool sample, but by number three (did you get the post reference to 'number two' on the stool sample?) you are beginning to get a little flustered... something else southern women in particular tend to do well.

You approach the front desk where the receptionist is encased in glass and look around the wall of the window waiting to get some sort of reaction.

If you don't, lean over to the opening in the glass and say politely, but a little miffed, "Excuse me?" with a rising question mark at the end.

If the woman (rarely a man) turns your way, you catch them with a look (a sort of stare down your nose, slightly mouth tilted look that lets them know there is about to be trouble if they back talk you).

"Now I understand," you say knowingly, as you focus your gaze around the exterior of the glass window separating you from the receptionist.

This will usually get a question in return. If they ask directly, "May I help you?" you can respond with, "Yes, are you planning on serving lunch for those of us who have been kept waiting two hours, or should I order take out?"

Hopefully this is all it takes to remind them that your time is valuable and you have been kept waiting long enough.

If they ask you what you don't understand, you can say, "the reason why they keep you protected from patients behind that glass window, cause honey, I'm so mad I could pull you and the doctor through that little hole right now for thinking my time is not as valuable as yours is."

Of course in these modern times you might just be arrested for making death threats to the doctor and his staff, but you do have to wonder why those receptionists need bullet proof glass between them and the customers sometimes, don't you?

To be more professional you might simply say sternly, "Excuse me, but I have been waiting for two hours and need to be back at work immediately. If the doctor cannot keep his appointed schedules, perhaps he would like to pay me for the hours I have missed at work and refer me to someone who is more professional with his/her patients?"

This might also be known as the controlled pitch and is usually best served in professional settings. It is also the most likely "fit" not to get you fired or black listed or sent off to jail. It is perfectly alright to defend yourself when you know you are being abused by someone.

In a relationship, pitching a fit can give the pitcher of the fit a great deal of power.

We all remember times when our mom, dad, teacher or perfect stranger caught us doing something wrong and corrected us, usually starting out with the phrase, "what are you doing?", and followed up with a dozen heartfelt reasons as to why you should not be doing it.

"You do NOT put the dog in the washing machine to give him a bath. Is that understood?"

"How would you like it if mommy put you in the washing machine to give you a bath?"

"No you cannot take a bath in the washing machine!"

Wives tend to pitch fits when their husbands do not pitch in with their fair share of the housework.

"You want to live like a slob? Fine, live like a slob. Here's some slop for you to wallow in. Why don't we just hang your shoes from the ceiling fan and just let the house plants wander free since there is more dirt on the floor than in the containers. Do you feel more at home now, pig?"

Ah yes, the family feud. Once you have been struck by the ball you will step up to the plate with bat in hand ready to lob the next one back before it strikes you in the face and eventually an all out war begins. There is good reason to control ones anger even around people who can't fire you if they disagree with your opinions.

Let's face it, anger management to many means to use your anger in order to manage others who make you angry in the first place, but there are subtle ways to get people to do what you want them to do without pitching a fit or losing your temper.

Let's say you are a boss who employs several women to work for you. These women are all alpha women in their homes. They like to be in charge. They like to give directions. They like to think their way is not just the best way, but the ONLY way to get a job done and if others do not follow along with their thinking, they will pitch fits and make themselves so annoying that the boss will do just about anything to get them to stop complaining as long as the work gets done and no one comes to him with their problems.

Jane complains that Jan is getting in her way and not listening to her ideas. Janice says that Jane doesn't want anyone moving faster than her because she thinks that only by working slowly can you do a good job.

Jannine thinks that Jan talks on her cell phone to her husband and kids too much, and Janna and Janet exclude everyone else from their conversations and act superior over the other women.

How does the boss settle these disagreements and still keep things running smoothly? Should he pitch a fit to counteract the individual fits the women are having that are holding back on productivity? Should he put one woman in charge of all the others and let the women be her problem not his?

There is one simple solution that will solve all the problems: The boss simply states, "Since you can't get along, I guess I will have to let you all go and hire a new crew."

Problem solved, at least until the fear of losing their jobs wears off and they realize the boss is mostly bluffing.

If you work with a Jan or a Janna or a Janet that is annoying and makes you want to pitch a fit; don't do it.

There is a saying that if a person can make you lose your temper they have shown that they are better than you and that they have control over you, making them the winner and you look bad, no matter how righteous you feel and how wrong the irritator might be, even if the irritator is a machine or a situation.

Yelling at your computer does not give you better control over it, it just gives you less control over yourself. It may feel good, temporarily, to yell and scream and get out your frustrations, but it is like using a dry paintbrush to paint a room. It accomplishes little more than dusting off the walls and building up your wrist muscles.

Instead of pitching a fit to get attention and subdue your competitors, try winning them over with kindness and logic.

If a computer, appliance, vehicle or incident, like slow drivers, impatient drivers, or a candy machine that refuses to give you your candy after you have paid for it, etc. makes you upset, try asking yourself quickly, "why did that make me so mad?"

In most cases the answer is that you feel an injustice has been done toward you. The computer is supposed to be fast and smart and make your life easier, but instead you are a slave to it and it steals the words you write and deletes your thoughts and makes you work harder to maintain it, than it works to serve you. It is like being in a relationship with someone who uses you and does not appreciate your value.

How do you stop being mad at the computer, or your boss or a coworker or your spouse?

With living people, you can turn the tables on them. When the boss tells you he pays you to do what you are told, you can gently let him know that he or she does not pay you enough to be abused and disrespected and that you work better when the boss supports you and communicates clearly and then leaves you alone to let you do it without interrupting or changing the rules midway through the assignment.

You have to be delicate about it, but it never hurts to call the boss into your own "office" and say, "we need to talk..." if you take charge of the situation and let them know about the stresses that are placed on you and how you think things could be improved to make life easier for everyone, you might be surprised how well it does go. of course is you have a boss that just does not care, you will probably be the one going, but if your life is really miserable there, it is worth giving it a try.

As for computers and such, have a back up plan. Sort of like when your best friend who always backs out at the last minute tells you they can't help you set up for the big party. Make sure you have a second person in place to take over the absentee's duties.

With the computer, make sure you save the info frequently on a removable disk or drive as backup. Work in a time frame that will allow you to proofread and rewrite if a problem occurs.

Remember you are in control over whether you pitch a fit, scratch your foot over the mound and stare down your opponent, or play with the ball to confuse your opponent (Serena Williams is a pro at this... hey I think I will toss the ball in the air to serve it, well, maybe not, maybe I will test the wind, maybe I will bounce it on the ground five times, maybe...). This tactic puts you in control of how you react and puts the other person on the defensive giving you the edge.

Every now and again it is okay to pitch a fit and stand up for what is right and fight against evil doers. Even Jesus ripped a fig tree out the ground and chased bankers out of a the temple, so if the son of God can lose his cool every now and again, we can't really help it if we do too at times. Just direct your temper at someone who deserves it and not toward innocents, and try to look at the big picture and not concentrate so much on the hurt and loss of control, but on the logistics of how to regain control without looking more foolish than courageous!


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