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You Won’t Like Me When I’m Angry

Sometimes I think I can be quite an angry person. The Lovely Wife will tell you that while the thought of raising a hand to another person is something I would never intentionally do, inanimate objects are pretty fair game. There is something both entirely normal and also rather odd about punching walls, doors on banging on keyboards as the damn device of evil once more locks up or inevitably the next upgrade of iTunes has destroyed all your carefully constructed playlists. Or in that same context, when my iTunes library, supposedly safe on an external hard drive somehow gets corrupted irreversibly (I have two backups now for the reconstructed version). In terms of weirdness we all know that at best our fist will be sore and at worst, as well as the sore fist, we’ll damage the thing that has been unfortunate enough to have our anger and frustration physically exacted upon it. The part of my brain that actually thinks knows that this is stupid but I still go ahead and do it.

On the normal side for me I recognize it as a displacement activity as the real, biological action is not open to me. It is commonly seen in animal behaviour where the normal routes of behaviour are thwarted. You need to do something, so you execute a behaviour that is open to you in place of one that is not. It is sobering, but in the end we often want to take our frustration out on someone. But with my corrupted hard drive there is not someone I can take my frustration out on (thankfully) so the keyboard gets it instead, or the desk. Even when there is someone to blame there is a part of my brain that, luckily for me, is hard wired to know that punching them in the nose is a Bad Thing. But the sobering thought for me is that in reflection that does not mean that my anger is any less real, which brings me back to where I started.

Even the calmest people I know – and I know some people who are really very chilled indeed – get angry sometimes. When they do, it can be much scarier than people like me, especially if you are on the receiving end of that anger. This is precisely because if it is something bad enough to cause them to blow their top then it must be something that really gets their goat and secondly it is out of their normal behaviour. For someone I know it only comes out when driving. For others it can be about any subject, but is an incremental build that is completely impossible to see until the point of no return is reached; at which point you had better take cover in the light of the resulting explosion.

For me, I reach the boil extremely quickly and have a real problem hiding my anger. That said I cool down very quickly as well, perhaps in part to self-awareness that when angry I am less the avenging angel and more the red faced buffoon. I just do not do ‘angry’ that well I guess.

More and more I find that when dealing with people, calm and polite – and even a smile, if you can manage of it – usually wins the day over any other approach. My dear late Mum was an expert at this. If anything needed complaining about she always got the job and executed it brilliantly, with the ‘I know it must be my fault… I realize this mind sound very silly, but… I really hope you can help me…’ were the kind of approaches she regularly used and nearly always got satisfaction – and often a good chat in addition (which would always make her happy). So with people, that’s what I aspire to. Mind you – if there is no one to talk to then the inanimate objects still had better look out. Even my Mum, on the day the top came off the pressure cooker and sprayed dinner all over the kitchen ceiling gave the cooker a mighty kick.

I did not stay around to see what the result was of this action and instead made myself scarce for the rest of the day. I think you can understand why.

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