This morning I lost my temper. Like really lost my temper. For those who don’t know, I have a relatively short fuse but I also tend to calm down pretty fast. This morning however was different. I experienced a rage I have never ever felt before. This morning I finally understood what the phrase “blind rage” means. More importantly, I truly understood and felt just how far it had the potential to push me and just how much destruction I was capable of in those tense heated uncontrolled moments.
To cut a long story short, I have a very arrogant neighbor who during the night decided to block my car just to make a point. We spent 10 minutes trying to wake him up, only for him to wake up and tell me he had done it deliberately. To add insult to injury, his car apparently needs 30 minutes (I am not making this up) to warm up before he could move it. (I’m not entirely sure that his car runs on fuel; perhaps dirty water?) Anyway, as his car warmed up, we engaged in a heated shouting match for all and sundry to hear. Finally he moved his car and I drove off in a major huff trying to calm myself down with all the positive energy and self-talk that I could muster.
Thinking about it as I drove to work reminded me of a recent article I had read about in the dailies a couple of weeks ago where a motorist shot and killed another in a road rage incident. I have always wondered how angry someone would have to be to take out his gun and shoot someone else just for crossing him in traffic or whatever trivial reason. Just to be clear, I am making reference to level headed, intelligent people who can actually fathom the consequences of their actions. However, today I realized that had I been a licensed gun owner (or quite honestly, had any other weapon in my reach), I would have probably used it. In the heat of the moment of course. And while this may seem crazy to even admit, to be honest it just made me realize how human I am. With very human feelings and some very red blood.
We all get angry, even furious from time to time. I really don’t believe it’s realistic to say that we can completely avoid it. However, what truly matters is what you do with that anger. After all, it’s a feeling just like all other feelings that we were blessed with right? And more importantly, once the storm has passed and the anger is gone; once the calm returns, will it have changed you or will you still be able to recognize yourself? For example, if you stab someone in a fit of domestic-instigated anger, your life will be forever changed. So while having the anger inside of you may have been perfectly natural, what you do with this anger now changes the course of your life permanently. Meaning that if we can just control what we do with our anger, or how we direct it, that ultimately makes all the difference in the eventual outcome.
The obvious flaw in this very brilliant logic (if I do say so myself) is that at the height of the anger and in the eye of the storm, we seem to lose all intelligent or rational thought and seemingly revert to our primal animal instincts. Simply put, all caution is thrown to the wind. Rational thought only seems to work when a person is calm, like I am now as opposed to this morning when I was baying for blood.
Sorry to disappoint those who thought that I have an instant magic solution to ensure that rational thought can be applied during those tense moments when you just want to kill someone. I am human after all, so in that regard, we are in the same boat. I have heard however, that counting slowly to 10, 20 or whatever appropriate number before you speak might help in delaying or even deferring your stormy response. Others claim that counting just serves to make them even angrier so, to each his own. Walking away works for others, though it may not be possible depending on the situation. Keep in mind that some suggested solutions are personality driven so if you are confrontational like me, walking away may not feel good to you.
All I can say is remember you are human and you have human feelings so don’t be too hard on yourself. Find a way that works to blow off your steam harmlessly like pummeling a punching bag and always ensure that you deal with whatever made you angry once you are calm. Otherwise you risk a repeat of the same or worse when it happens again. Apologize if you hurt someone during your storm. Most importantly however, try really hard not to kill anyone.