Monday, October 15, 2012

If Anger Begets More Anger

... then harmony must beget more harmony, right?

Anger is a recurring sin for me. I don't mean violent rages, I mean frustration with others who don't understand that I'm always right. Their refusal to do what I want the way I want drives me batty. It's so clear that I've got all the answers*, why can't they see that?

A few years back, my kids had a talk with me. They told me how much they didn't like my anger. They wanted to do well in school and become happy, successful people, but my anger made it much more difficult for them. I vowed to them that I would do my best to control myself. And so a little project in deferred anger started.

I decided that I could always get angry at them later. I might be seething inside, but I did my best not to show it. Under normal anger conditions, I could hold a conversation, but under Code Red Fury Alert, I'd simply avoid the topic that was eating at me until I'd had a few days to cool down. After all, in the grand scheme of things, does it really make a difference if you go off on someone now or three days from now?

Through the grace of God and the faith of my wife, I've discovered that the things that used to make me blow my top have a tendency to resolve themselves or appear in a different light after a while. This opened up a different approach to the world as harmony begat more harmony. Over time, I found myself getting angry less and less.

While I was working through this, I don't think my kids knew I would still be boiling inside sometimes when they failed to live up to my completely reasonable expectations of perfection. Instead, they relaxed around me. We'd always been a close family, but now you could feel an edge being worn off our relationships. After about three years of this, I've never felt closer or more in love with my family. When other parents talk about how difficult their teenage daughter is, I say a little prayer of thanksgiving for the deep love my daughter and I share.

I still get angry at her when she can't figure out something simple like Fermat's Last Theorem or where she left the book she was reading, but I don't feel the urge to act on it like I used to. I confess that I've not worked on eliminating the anger itself, I've just learned to postpone it and found that anger is time-soluble. My wife still has to put up with me ranting about the kids when they're not around as I vow to really make them stand up and take notice this time, but I think we both know that it's not going to result in yelling or unhappiness, it's just a safety valve releasing steam. I'm sure I can find a way to stop the internal anger if I try and might make a series of blog posts about that evolution.

I've wandered off topic a bit and need to wake my daughter and as she's not a morning person, make her breakfast and lunch**. Let me finish this meandering post with this:

By postponing my angry outbursts, I discovered the anger dissolved over time into something more constructive. I was able to pull out the nugget of wisdom I was trying to impart and give it to the kids in a positive, constructive way. That led to harmony which led them to be more open to teaching which led to less anger which led to better soccer play.

Or something like that. ;-)

Oh shut up already and show us the standard blog post picture!
* - Is this personality feature common bloggers?

** - Yes, I know she's old enough to be expected to do it herself, but it's not her strong suit and the day goes so much smoother when I do this.


tim eisele said...

I think what you are writing here ties in pretty closely with the topic of this video.

Which basically boils down to, "If you act as if you are a certain kind of person, then you will tend to become that kind of person".

Doo Doo Econ said...

Didn't anger at someone's children lead to a great flood and an ark?

K T Cat said...

Well, allegorically at least. ;-)

Jedi Master Ivyan said...

Anger is almost always a secondary emotion. Quite often it is a cover for another emotion. It often helps my anger to examine what other feeling is underneath; hurt and fear are the usual suspects.

K T Cat said...

Great point, Ivyan. For me, it's usually frustration and impatience.