Friday, January 15, 2016

About Anger...

An old Peanuts cartoon shows an enraged Lucy shouting "When you're down and out, raise your head and shout, SOMEBODY'S GONNA PAY FOR THIS!"
Retribution is central to anger. Our explosive reaction to pain and suffering causes us to seek someone to punish - someone to blame. While we are seeing red and once we have honed in on our target for payment, there is little that can stop it from escalating.
Think about the last time you and a friend or spouse were angry. Any attempts of deflection or equal anger in return just raised the level. It becomes a quagmire. Mix in a little generalization like "you never" and "you always" and a little denigration like "stupid", "idiot", "delirious", "selfish" and suddenly there is door slamming (literally or figuratively). As long as someone holds onto anger and filters every reaction through it, there is quagmire. Nothing is resolved. It's destructive and is a relationship killer.
If we cannot get beyond anger and the resulting resentment, there is no hope. It doesn't matter what the problem is, it will never be solved through a filter of anger that is elevated to the point of inflicting pain.
To solve problems and resolve issues we need to develop our communication skills and maintain a level of respect. We have to stop slamming doors with over reaching generalizations and denigration. We have to temper our anger and rid ourselves of resentment. Once those red filters are up, we cannot see or hear clearly.
Embracing and escalating anger is a dark path. It ends in quagmire. It narrows our options for resolving issues to a point near zero. I find it very hard to trust someone's perceived truth when they are yelling, angry, denigrating and generalizing beyond reason. There may be a nugget of truth in there but it's very hard to find within all the noise.
Anger, resentment and the actions that come with them are typically much uglier than the issues that set them in motion in the first place. They follow us like a cloud and over shadow everything we do and every part of our lives.
Embrace well considered solutions. Embrace building bridges of understanding. Embrace inclusive problem solving. Those lead to long term trust, commitment and lasting results. Yes, it takes more work and a great deal of discipline. It's worth it. It works.

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