I am known as a happy camper among my friends. And at a recent optimism test I took, I scored 95 out of 100. Years ago I remember a then-colleague asking me how I maintained the apparent joyful energy at work.
My personality type according to the Myers-Briggs test is INFP – and I am a dominant feeler. Which means I can feel something very strongly, including anger. So it may sound paradoxical that an apparently happy person like me can also exhibit a fiery temper–but it makes sense once you consider how that stems from my being a strong feeler. But that’s another point for another post, because as I cool down from an angsty episode this evening I think I have finally realized how I managed to stay happy. (In fact I am bouncing back now after almost starting an argument with my innocent close friends. Sorry girls. One of them even said, after I explained my odd behaviour, that it’s good I didn’t bottle things up, and that at least they were close enough to understand.)
My secret, I think, is this: I allow myself to explode. Without causing damage to property, and lives, of course. But I know I need to be mindful as to the possibility of damaging feelings.
I let myself walk around with a scowl on my face when forcing a straight or smiley one feels just too fake. Sometimes I drive up to my favourite place and let myself step a little more on the fuel pedal than usual, turn on my favourite rock music to high volume, and scream. Once another driver was blocking my way and instead of being polite (like I usually am on the road) I allowed myself the luxury of honking to my heart’s content. Not to be outdone that woman made some vigorous hand gestures towards me, so in my already fiery mood I gladly slipped into fight mode: sitting in my car, I stared directly at her for a few good seconds, flashed my right fist, and drove off laughing. So that worked.
And being a wordsmith, of course verbal expressions of anger is another avenue I use quite a lot. Words–they can be amazingly cathartic! But I have mellowed over the years, so giving offending parties a good piece of my mind is something I do only very selectively.
So I guess the conclusion I am coming to about dealing with anger is that…playing ‘nice’ and trying to bottle things up in the name of patience and tolerance does not necessarily work. We may just find ourselves walking around with accumulated unresolved anger weeks, months, and years later.
I would vote for, well, moderated outbursts and ventilation. I wonder how many of you agree or disagree with me–how would you deal with your anger?