Dealing with Anger

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?

Being Patient Can Be Effortless…If Only We Know How

Patience is a virtue that not many of us seem to have. But I believe if we see it as a skill that can be acquired, it won’t be all that hard to be patient, both with people and situations.

Here are three ways to be patient that have worked for me:

1. Find worthwhile things to do while waiting for an undesirable situation to pass
I seldom get frustrated during traffic jams (unless I am late for an important event). It’s because I get to listen to my favourite CDs, and sometimes I make use of the time to learn a foreign language by playing an audio CD. And everytime I go to the bank, or anywhere that I may be required to wait, I usually have a book with me.

2. Practise counting to five before reacting when someone else’s actions rub us the wrong way
With enough practice we can make responding thoughtfully (instead of reacting viscerally) a habit. Walking away to give ourselves some space to regain rational thinking also works — if only we would just do this instead of giving in to the temptation to react.

3. Celebrate progress no matter how small, and see setbacks as part and parcel of the journey
This especially applies when we are waiting for major changes to take place or goals to materialize, like recovering from an illness, repairing strained relationships, losing weight, getting an MBA, and getting out of debt.

It’s like solving a big, complicated jigsaw puzzle. It’s exciting to fit a piece correctly, but there will be times when we get it wrong and then have to go back to the pile to search again for the correct piece. If we see every setback as part of the journey towards the end goal, we will be able to embrace the long haul more optimistically.

So being patient is actually not that difficult. We just have to find the right things and the right attitude to give us a sense of momentum–because as long as we feel progress no matter how small, we will cease to be frustrated.

One-Liner Wednesday- Worth is Absolute, not Relative

This world focuses so much on superficial foundations of personal worth–looks, wealth (your ‘net worth’), intelligence, achievements, popularity–that most people feel worthy only when they measure up; but the truth is all of us ARE worthy just because there is only one of each and every one of us and that we can offer something to the world that no one else can!

This is part of LindaGHill’s One-Liner Wednesday: