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The Excessity of Anger

Some of you are probably scrunching up your eyebrows at this category. After all, who would want to gather up and surround themselves with an excessity of anger? Yet for some people each expression of anger is as precious to them — to their sense of self and identification in the world — as Imelda Marcos’ espadrilles were to her. Just as Imelda felt more herself and more complete with every pair of shoes, there are some people who intentionally “put on” anger every day as a personal statement and protective covering.

You probably know someone like this.

It’s the person who is able to find fault in just about every person she meets and every situation she encounters. Nothing is left alone to be just what it is. It is always critiqued, criticized, evaluated, and ultimately found lacking. She reacts the same way to people.

Coworkers are incompetent; her kids are a mess; her husbund (or ex-husband) a fool. She considers herself akin to the only sighted person in the land of the blind, constantly amazed at the ineptitude around her. Therefore, she feels duty-bound to continually, incessantly point it out. It is impossible for her to leave well enough alone because, to her, it’s never well enough; the only “well enough” is her “never enough” — her anger, irritation, and annoyance. For her living out her wellspring of anger every day is a necessity for her sense of self and a defensive stance against a hostile world. Yes, her anger is an excessity.

This isn’t an issue just for women; men also can exhibit inappropriate levels of anger.

It”s the man who doesn’t speak to others as much as he barks at them. Questions and comments are really thinly veiled commands. He always has an opinion, is never afraid to voice it, and rarely has one that is positive. This is the man who attacks his life from the position of adversary. He is convinced that people are out to get him and that only eternal vigilance on his part — sometimes epxressed in a raised and animated voice — keeps him and his family safe.

His family has learned not to question him and the dog wisely stays out of his way.

Like money, anger is a conduit for power and control. Anger is effective. Angry people usually get what they want through the feelings their anger generates in others. More people are afraid of angry people and will attempt to accommodate them or placate them. Usually this means giving up something to the person who is angry, even if what is given up is the other person’s self-control.

Yes, anger is effective and powerful. Because of this, anger has the potential to crowd out other responses in your emotional toolbox until it’s the first thing you reach for, every time.

SOURCE: Chapter 2, “Examine Your Excess,” in Gotta Have It! by Gregory L. Jantz, PhD., founder of The Center for Counseling and Health Resources Inc.

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