Bottled Up

Anger. What did you think of? Screaming? Fighting? Frustration? A specific person?

A crucial portion of controlling emotions such as anger is understanding the full extent of  what we are feeling. Are they being harvested from past experiences? Are they fully conscious of rationale or fully dependent on raw feeling? Sometimes the reasons why feelings are initiated aren’t nearly as important as the reasons why it is affecting you so much.

I do not claim to be an expert in any way, I am not even an expert in my own emotions but I can only attempt to speak from my personal experiences. I was once a very explosive and reactive personality, the smallest ripple caused a tidal wave. Until I dug deep into my subconscious, I was clueless as to why I was always ready for war. Whether the conflict was personal, professional, or romantic, everything was always approached with this enormous amount of passion and fervor. As the confrontation unfolded my demeanor went from passionate to aggressive, and quickly. I had convinced myself for years that my emotions were intense because I was always passionate and head strong about my beliefs. In reality I was a hot head, I was stubborn, I was close-minded, I was aggressive…but I didn’t know why.

It wasn’t until I broke the heart of someone that was unapologetically unforgiving that I began to weigh the consequences of my behavior. He did not allow my flaws to be swept under the rug, not even on day one. From the moment we were comfortable enough to have a discussion of any kind, he let me have it. He told me when I was being unreasonable, irrational, or far more aggressive than necessary…and it infuriated me. No one likes to hear another’s perspective of them unless it is rainbows and butterflies, far less when you aren’t open to disagreement of any kind.

This man did not let me forget that I did him wrong. He did not let me forget that I was usually wrong in many ways. For an entire year this man hinted at his misery and why it led back to my deceit, my anger, and my selfishness. In that time, I was very busy getting my own heart broken, being broken down emotionally, and stripped of that anger. Where the anger left, the sadness crept in. Where there was sadness, there was introspection. In that introspection I found my answers: I was unhappy with my lack of communication strength.

Everything angered me because I was incapable of simply defending my side and walking away from a disagreement without ‘winning’. My communication was flawed because I always failed to listen but was always ready to speak. My emotions drove my argument and my logic took a back seat. Once this was addressed, my introspection was no longer saddening but rather valued.

From that moment on, I approached confrontation with a clear mind and took that experience of introspection to every conflict. I would ask myself the same few questions before every major confrontation: Is this worth a fight? Is this worth losing my temper? Will this affect me in more than 15 minutes? Am I mad about something else that I haven’t had the opportunity to talk about? Believe it or not, taking a deep breath and stepping out from behind the front line of confrontation makes answering these questions much easier.

Harvesting anger causes internal conflict that may later manifest into aggression or an irrational reaction to something insignificant. Consider your own internal struggle when approaching conflict. Consider your personal battles when approaching anything.



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