April 23, 2012
Minimalist Monday: Be Less Angry
It may surprise you to learn that I've struggled with anger. I'm generally a happy, upbeat and optimistic person - a real people pleaser, so my anger has always eluded me.
I wouldn't say I'm a hot head or have a short fuse. For example, I don't get road rage or mad at the waiter if my dinner is wrong. If I call customer service, I'm the nicest person you'll ever help. Seriously, customer service agents tell me this all the time, "I can't believe you're not yelling at me!" because I see no point in yelling at someone helping me out ;)
I very rarely get mad at strangers or acquaintances (and no, I never get mad at you Herbies!). My anger is limited to family and people I'm working with.
Now, it's time for a confession: I'm a bit of a control freak and perfectionist, especially when it comes to my work, so any time something doesn't meet my expectations, I find myself feeling angry. It's almost as if I substitute anger in situations where most people would just be disappointed.
For example, last month our web designer sent me a mockup that was so far from what I had wanted, envisioned and described that I got angry. Why? I shouldn't have been angry. Disappointed? sure. Frustrated? possibly. But angry? Actually angry? no.
My mom used to tell me to "save my anger for something worth getting angry about" and while I loved her sentiment, it wasn't that easy for me. I tried not to get angry in situations that normally triggered my anger, but I still did. I figured the best thing I could do was learn how to manage it if I couldn't avoid it.
I don't always remember to do this (and let me apologize now to anyone who has dealt with the angry monster) but I try to make myself wait 5-10 minutes before I respond. Let myself cool down. Allow myself time to think before speaking. If I just react, I overreact.
Being a lawyer and now a pseudo public figure has given me ample opportunity to practice being diplomatic and cool-tempered even when rage is welling up inside of me.
I'm proud of the progress I've made and I'm not ashamed to admit anger is still something I grapple with -- but why am I sharing all this now?!
I had a major break through last week. Every time I got angry at something, Scott would stop and say "why are you choosing to get angry over this?"
At first I laughed him off -- like I choose to be angry! Someone made me angry! but the more I heard it, the more I realized I was making a choice. and even more importantly, I could choose not to be angry.
and in spirit of Minimalist Monday, let's all choose to minimize our anger.
Sometimes we choose to be angry, ungrateful, resentful and jealous when instead we have the ability to choose to be accepting, forgiving and grateful for all that we have." - Miranda Kerr