5 Things We Can Learn From ANGRY People…John Page Burton

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Is it just me or does it seem like there are a lot of angry people buzzing around our planet? Most angry people are two faced. They exhibit a public face and a private face. For example, the other day a man driving a high end vehicle, dressed in a suit and tie swerved his car and nearly ran me off the road. When I pulled up next to him at the stoplight and gave him a puzzled look, he promptly reached down under his seat and with a smirk on his face, brandished a hand gun! I certainly don’t care to do business with him! My social media streams feature countless posts “attacking” religious choice, sexual preferences, race, political affiliation or anything else that is determined different from the posters belief system. One of my clients recently asked me “why so many people seem so angry”? It’s a reasonable question. Many are quick to blame their anger on the economy, world problems, political agenda’s and even technology. I routinely interact with people who “ooze pissed off”. When I ask them why they are so angry it’s not uncommon for them to snap back… “I’m not angry”. Be honest, all of us get angry from time to time, it’s human nature.  As a coach, I routinely see the effects of unresolved anger. Divorce, illness, job loss and family challenges are some of the unfortunate consequences of unresolved anger. I have identified 5 characteristics commonly found in angry people. Also, here are five things I have learned on my own journey as a “recovering angry person”…

Acceptance. Because they have never completely accepted themselves, angry people struggle to accept others. Most of the angry people I have known share the common characteristic of being fearful people. Angry people have an above average fear of failure and are prone to anger when they find themselves roaming outside of their comfort zone. Angry people are quick to judge others because it is easier than facing their own fear.  I have learned to face my fears when they come up and to give myself some grace when things don’t happen EXACTLY the way I want them to. I remind myself that life tends to happen when we are making other plans.
Neurotic. Angry people tend to be compulsive worriers.  “95% of what we worry about never happens and the other 5% never looks as bad as we envisioned”. This quote is a reminder to focus on what we can control rather than on what may or may not happen at a future point in time. I have learned to stay in the present moment as much as humanly possible. I problem solve from my past, I create in the present.
Grudges. Angry people tend to hold grudges. My mother had a falling out with her two brothers over the disbursement of my grandmothers estate. Tragically, my mother passed away having not spoken to her brothers for over thirty years. Grudges rob us of our joy and over time, holding grudges may bring about physical or emotional health challenges. I have learned to speak my truth and move on. I remind myself that resentment only robs me of the energy I need to move toward a compelling future.
Reactive. Angry people tend to be reactive people. This is where the saying “they really have a chip on their shoulder” comes into play. Last evening I ran into a person who unbeknownst to me has been holding a long standing grudge toward me for not continuing to donate money to the charitable organization they represent. When I explained that I had decided to donate elsewhere because I had not received a thank you note or receipt for my previous donations they bristled and began to make it personal. “You misspelled my name when you signed my book” was one of the many “digs” this person leveled at me in an attempt to dodge any role they may have played in my decision to donate elsewhere.  In short, reactive people usually hear what they want to hear. Rather than be proactive and seek to understand they tend to pounce! As a “recovering reactive person”, I have learned to count to ten before offering my thoughts. “Seek to understand, then to be understood”. (Covey)
Yesterday. Angry people spend a great deal of time living in the past. They robotically recount the details of past hurts and disappointments and carry much of this anger into their present reality. Someone who disagrees with or upsets them may suddenly take on the identity of an unfavorable person from their past. A current spouse begins to remind them of an abusive parent, a new love interest does something that reminds them of a former spouse, an innocent mistake by a long time friend instantly becomes a betrayal of epic proportion or an admonishment from an employer becomes the voice of a demanding, perfectionist parent. I have learned that dwelling on the past only distracts me from the present. I get to CHOOSE what I focus on and I CHOOSE to focus on NOW!
We all get angry, it’s actually good for us to let off a little steam from time to time. If we find ourselves becoming an angry, ticking time bomb, it’s time for a check up from the neck up! A good coach or therapist can help us clear the clutter and allow us to live the joyful life we deserve.
As always, I look forward to your thoughts and feedback. Cheers!
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