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How Dangerous Can Dirty Dishes Be? Uncovering the Dirt About Anger

Updated on January 27, 2013

The Trigger

You walk in the door after a long day of work. You see your husband taking a nap on the couch. You notice the dishes are still piled up in the sink from last night's dinner. Something inside of you begins to rumble and your face burns with anger. You feel as if you are on the verge of explosion. Is it normal to get SO upset over a few dirty dishes? Maybe for you it's not dishes, but the toilet seat left up, dirty socks in the corner, a blaring TV, or an over-enthusiasm for spending money on things you find pointless. All of us have our "hot buttons" and those we love the most seem to be the ones who can really set us off. But why?

Source
Source

It's Not About the Dishes

It's not really about the dishes.  Sure, a dirty sink can be irritating—but does it have the power to really make one irate?  Many of the emotions that we experience can be likened to the visible part of an iceberg.  Sure, an iceberg may be large, but compared to the size of what is hidden beneath the water, the visible part is proportionately much smaller.  Think of it like a garden.  When seeds are planted, they are hidden beneath the ground and over time they grow until eventually, a plant breaks through the ground and is exposed.  Anger works the same way.  When anger is "exposed" there is often already an "anger plant" growing beneath the surface. 

Where Does Anger Come From?

Anger is a clue that there is something else wrong. It is a secondary emotion, meaning that beneath the anger is usually fear, sadness, or frustration. Think of something that makes you angry. Now, ask yourself the question, "Why am I angry?" Let's take the dishes, for example. When I ask myself why I am so angry about dirty dishes, I realize that it is mostly because I am afraid. I grew up in a home where my mom did most of the work around the house and like the energizer bunny, she kept going and going and going. As she was going, my dad was often napping. This greatly angered me as a child. I felt sad that my mom did so much work and frustrated that my dad didn't help out more. So, when I see a pile of dirty dishes, I don't just see the dishes, but I envision my life as me working and my husband napping. This is not an accurate depiction of what life is really like; in fact, my husband does the dishes more than I do! I need to remind myself that my husband and I are not my parents. But in the moment, it feels like I'm reliving the same feelings from my past.

Destroy the Root to Get Rid of the Fruit

If you really want to see a change in the amount of anger you deal with, you need to go after the roots.  A gardener would not trim weeds or tuck them away to hide them.  Alternately, a gardener cannot just dig up everything and tear the garden apart to get rid of the weeds.  The gardener must carefully pull each weed out, one at a time, with care to not damage the healthy plants that surround it.  The gardener must dig and dig until the root is exposed and then pull it out. What are the consequences if the gardener ignores the weeds?  A slow, choking death to the healthy plants nearby.  If left unchecked, weeds can take over and totally destroy a garden. 

"You Make Me So Mad!"

Have you ever screamed, "You make me so mad"?  I know I have.  But the truth is, nobody can make you mad.  No matter how much others may provoke you, the choice of how you will respond is yours and yours alone.  Am I making you mad by this statement?  I know I didn't like it the first time I heard it.  Who enjoys taking the blame for negative attitudes?  It's easier to blame others for our problems.  If it's your fault and not mine, then I don't have to worry about changing.  It's more preferable to tell YOU that you have a problem and you better change.  Are you convinced yet?  Let's take an obvious example.  Back to the dishes.  Perhaps dirty dishes don't bother you at all.  Maybe you could come home to dirty dishes every day and be just fine.  But me?  That's another story.  The dishes are not doing anything to provoke one response from me and another from you.  You choose not to be angry when it comes to dirty dishes.  If I don't work at it, my automatic response is annoyance and anger.  Next time you are feeling angry, try screaming "I make me so mad!" 

Five Steps to Effectively Dealing With Anger

1. STOP: Delay Response: Do not do what you used to do that does not work. If you want to cool down, do NOT use this cool-down time to rehearse what made you angry.

2. ASK: Why am I angry? Anger is not a primary emotion but is generally the result of being hurt, frustrated, or afraid. What do I want? Do you really want clean dishes or do you want to know that your husband cares enough to help out around the house?

3. LISTEN: Empathize: Listen to the person or try to understand the situation. Often, the more you get angry, the more you want to speak; most angry people are not good listeners.

4. RETHINK: Renew your mind with truth; step back and look at the whole situation. We often think of anger management as learning how to control anger but the best place to intervene is BEFORE you feel angry. People who regularly experience anger are people who regularly think judgmental, cynical thoughts of other people.

5. GO: Follow-Through and take appropriate action. It can be easy to avoid confrontation when you cool down…anger is a signal for action! Maybe you need to deal with your own distorted thoughts…but maybe you need to have a conversation with the person you are angry with.

Sources

Many of the ideas in and the content of this article are inspired by the teachings of John Ortberg's "All About Anger" audio series. The five practical steps are John Ortberg's solutions to how to effectively deal with anger. If you find this article helpful, I suggest you check him out, as his series goes into much more depth on the topic!



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    • SPIRIT n TRUTH profile image

      SPIRIT n TRUTH 4 years ago from Suburbs of Chicago, IL of U.S.A.

      Good Insight.

    • Seek-n-Find profile image
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      Jenna Ditsch 4 years ago from Illinois

      @KatNance: Thank you! I am glad to hear that this article has been helpful--I love these 5 steps. Best to you!

    • KatNance profile image

      KatNance 4 years ago

      great hub I really enjoyed reading it I Will use them..i see myself getting agervated with my hubby all the time i feel like he sees things One sided

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      Jenna Ditsch 4 years ago from Illinois

      @ Express10: Thank you for reading and leaving a comment! I appreciate every reader. :-) Best to you.

    • Express10 profile image

      H C Palting 4 years ago from East Coast

      You have shared very useful tips on dealing with anger and avoiding needless problems as a result of it.

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      Jenna Ditsch 4 years ago from Illinois

      @jpcmc: Thank you for your comment! I love that you shared this and are printing it. The entire reason I wrote it was to be as a helpful tool and the more people see it--the more people (hopefully) will be able to identify angers' roots and get the fruit they want to see in their lives! I appreciate your comments and your vote. Best to you!

    • jpcmc profile image

      JP Carlos 4 years ago from Quezon CIty, Phlippines

      It's really important to put a handle on how one feels. The more we are aware of the emotion, the better we can address it. Destroy the roots to get rid of the fruit...I will remember this.

      This is such an enlightening hub. Voted up and shared. Will be printing one just for keepsake.:)

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      Jenna Ditsch 4 years ago from Illinois

      @ Billy Keplin: Thank you so much for your comment! I'm so glad to see that you see the layers I've included. :-) I think the idea of a perfect husband app is a great idea! Can you make one for smart phones? I'll have to check that story out. Thanks for letting me know about the gap--argh. I think I got it fixed now! Take care Billy and cheers to a world full of clean dishes. :-)

    • Billie Kelpin profile image

      Billie Kelpin 4 years ago from Newport Beach

      There is SO much to talk about regarding your hub. This has so many layers, I can't even begin. Truly provocative. This apparently is a universal situation. One of my adult students from South Korea learning English was just married to a South Korean man she met here in CA a few months ago. She told me about a recent trip she took with her mother and her sister to Hawaii. She returned home from that trip to find that her husband had not done the dishes the whole time! I added her story to "The Perfect Husband App" I wrote and decided that every husband should practice saying to his wife when she leaves for ANYWHERE: "Don't worry, Hon, I'll have the dishes done by the time you come home." Of all the gifts of love, to me, that one ranks up there among the BEST! Seriously, your hub is wonderfully insightful. BTW, on my screen, there is a gap between "The Trigger" and "It's Not About the Dishes". I once had to make the second paragraph a whole new module to get rid of the space, but if you play around with the arrows, you might get it aligned perfectly with the ad on the right.

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      Jenna Ditsch 5 years ago from Illinois

      Thank you DrPastorCarlotta! I'm so glad you like it. I'm doing well, thank you. I love learning about topics like this--and the even more important part is putting it into practice. My husband and I have done so much training in relationship topics, that sometimes it can cause even more stress because I say in the midst of an argument, "And I know that you know how to rightly respond to this and I know that I'm not responding rightly to your response either but I just don't want to--arghhh!" :-) Kind of funny. I'll check some of your work too. Blessings!!!

    • drpastorcarlotta profile image

      Pastor Dr. Carlotta Boles 5 years ago from BREAKOUT MINISTRIES, INC. KC

      I am a Faciltator for Anger Management and wanted to see what you had to share. I LIKE IT! Voted-UP! Pray that you are doing well. When you have a chance, come visit me. God Bless you!

    • Bilco Mic profile image

      Bilco Mic 5 years ago

      Your welcome :)

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      Jenna Ditsch 5 years ago from Illinois

      @Bilco Mic: Thanks for the comment! Glad you enjoyed this hub--I appreciate you stopping by!

    • Bilco Mic profile image

      Bilco Mic 5 years ago

      LOve this Hub, It relates to people in their own way who go through similar situation, small things could become irritations which leads to a bad temper. It's about how we control it.

    • Ruchi Urvashi profile image

      Ruchi Urvashi 5 years ago from Singapore

      Great hub. Enjoyed reading it. I can understand as I too used to feel angry when my husband was not helping with the child. However, as you wrote, we need to see the root cause and remove it. Now, I just do what I can and rest leave it. We both are happy and life is peaceful.

    • Seek-n-Find profile image
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      Jenna Ditsch 5 years ago from Illinois

      @ Millionaire Tips: Oh wow--thank you so much! That's awesome and much appreciated. I hope the tips reach those who could benefit from them! :-) Merry Christmas to you as well!

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      Shasta Matova 5 years ago from USA

      Hi Seek-n-Find - I have added your hub to my favorites of the week list. Merry Christmas.

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      Jenna Ditsch 5 years ago from Illinois

      @ Millionaire Tips: Thank you! I know they've helped me. I appreciate the comment!

    • Millionaire Tips profile image

      Shasta Matova 5 years ago from USA

      You've used some great analogies here to drive home your points. These are all great ideas, and will be useful the next time I am angry.

    • Captain Redbeard profile image

      Captain Redbeard 6 years ago from Ohio

      HAR HAR!! Tis a trixie thing, to be sure of! ;)

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      Jenna Ditsch 6 years ago from Illinois

      Ay--thank you Captain Redbeard. :-) I was going to try to respond in pirate talk, but haven't quite learned that language yet. Thanks nonetheless!

    • Captain Redbeard profile image

      Captain Redbeard 6 years ago from Ohio

      Ye be impressive indeed. Yarrrr......Voted up says I!

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      Jenna Ditsch 6 years ago from Illinois

      Thanks Red! They are quite helpful. The important part is remembering to use them. Easier to react than to respond. :-)

    • Ann Marie Dwyer profile image

      Ann Marie Dwyer 6 years ago from South Carolina, USA

      A long time student of anger management (indeed, lack of which is my undoing), I unequivocally endorse the five steps. Frankly, I use them for all "negative" emotions. It gives me time to be rationale. Great hub, Red.

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      Jenna Ditsch 6 years ago from Illinois

      Thank you mikielikie! :-)

    • mikielikie profile image

      mikielikie 6 years ago from Texas

      Very interesting! great job...

    • Poohgranma profile image

      Poohgranma 6 years ago from On the edge

      You have just written the formula for a lasting marriage and a peaceful life. Just wonderful!

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      Jenna Ditsch 6 years ago from Illinois

      Thank you CennyWenny! :-) I appreciate the comment.

    • CennyWenny profile image

      CennyWenny 6 years ago from Washington

      You have a wonderful knack for an easy flowing and well organized Hub. Great job!

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      Jenna Ditsch 6 years ago from Illinois

      Thanks Phil! I'll check it out. :-)

    • Phil Plasma profile image

      Phil Plasma 6 years ago from Montreal, Quebec

      Nice CYA there in the comments... indeed, we always have the choice as to how we respond. This hub coalesces with my Instant Forgiveness one nicely - you've done a great job to help cool some people off; for this you've earned a vote-up and an awesome.

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      Jenna Ditsch 6 years ago from Illinois

      And just for the record, my dad DOES help out now. If anyone from my family reads this, I love you and am not picking on you! Nobody is perfect and we are all on the journey of learning together and thanks Mom and Dad for all the ways you've given good guidance. :-)

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      Jenna Ditsch 6 years ago from Illinois

      Thank you! I teach classes on healthy relationships and know that this kind of stuff has helped many!

    • Paradise7 profile image

      Paradise7 6 years ago from Upstate New York

      Great hub, lotsa useful nuggets of advice. It should be pinned to the wall so we can read it every time one of us gets angry!