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    When is Anger Appropriate? My Responses to Seven Scenarios (Part I of III)

    Last week I presented to you seven scenarios from my book Every Woman’s Guide to Managing Your Anger. These are situations in which I have both seen and experienced anger. Below are my responses to the first three of these seven scenarios, including my immediate reaction AND my reactions after deeper reflection.

    Would you react the same way?

    SCENARIO #1

    The clerk at the store has to punch in your credit card number because the machine is broken. It’s the third time he’s put your number in and it’s still not right. You’re late for an appointment, and a quick stop is going on fifteen minutes and counting.

    Is it appropriate for you to be angry?

    My Immediate Response

    This scenario is frustrating, but there’s no reason to be angry at the clerk. It’s not the clerk’s fault the machine is broken and he’s having trouble with the card.

    My Reaction After Deeper Reflection

    I said I wouldn’t be angry but I would be frustrated. How truthful am I being to myself? Can’t frustration be another word for anger? Perhaps I used the word frustration because I knew it wouldn’t look good to say I was actually angry at some poor clerk who was having a bad day. Maybe, though, I actually was angry – angry at being late and trying to do too much in too little time, angry at myself and tempted to take it out on the clerk.

    SCENARIO #2

    You hear over the radio about a small child who was killed due to abuse by a parent.

    Is it appropriate for you to be angry?

    My Immediate Response

    As I write this, I hear this story on the news right now. Unfortunately, the names change but the story is horribly familiar. Yes, I’m angry. The fate of this toddler has haunted me all day.

    My Reaction After Deeper Reflection

    This one is straightforward; everyone should feel anger and outrage in situations like this. While it’s easy to know what to be angry at, it isn’t always easy to know who to be angry with. What if the parent is mentally ill and unable to truly comprehend the ramification of the abuse? What if the parent later has a change of heart and expresses remorse? I would absolutely be angry; I would also absolutely want to know why.

    SCENARIO #3

    You’ve just sat down to read the paper after a long day at work, and your spouse, who’s been sitting watching television for about half an hour, asks you to get up and bring back a glass of water.

    Is it appropriate for you to be angry?

    My Immediate Reaction

    It’s certainly annoying when a family member is so engrossed in what he or she is doing that they fail to take you into account, but being angry about this? No. Depending on my mood, I’d either get up and get the water or explain I just sat down and would prefer LaFon get her own water.

    My Reaction After Deeper Reflection

    I said I wouldn’t be angry, just annoyed. Again, how honest is that? Isn’t annoyed another word for angry? Maybe I thought I should answer honestly, so I said annoyed, but I really didn’t want to say I’d be angry at the sheer cluelessness of a spouse who was so self-absorbed he or she didn’t know I’d just sat down! I understand I’m supposed to be a servant to others, but does it really extend to situations like this? What about their unreasonable demands? Isn’t it appropriate to rebel against unreasonable demands? Of course, it wasn’t really a demand; it was more of a request, and I wasn’t obligated to say yes. I could say no. Maybe I’m angry at being put in this situation, where I feel compelled to say yes but really feel like saying no. And feel guilty about it.

    How would you react?

    For each of the scenarios above, what is your 1) immediate reaction and 2) reaction after deeper reflection. If you’d like to share, please post your thoughts in the comments section.

    Look for Part II of III in tomorrow’s post.

    SOURCE: Chapter1: “The Role of Anger” in Every Woman’s Guide to Managing Your Anger by Gregory L. Jantz, PhD., founder of The Center for Counseling and Health Resources Inc.

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