Alan Weiss’s Monday Morning Memo® – 12/27/2021
Have you ever been really angry on occasion? I have. Sometimes it’s because I’ve lost something I need immediately, or I’ve tripped and hurt myself out of my own clumsiness. Sometimes it’s because someone has let me down or actually tried to hurt me in some manner.
The anger can be sudden and short-lived, or proceeding like an anabasis, slowly invading new territory in our lives. Basically, however, it advances in one of two directions. Anger can be directed inward, in the form of self-loathing, which results in depression and stress. Or, I think more commonly, in order to preserve one’s sense of self, it is directed outwardly, against others. This is why we see overreactions to what seem to be trivial errors and minor faults. It’s manifest in both “road rage” and “life rage.”
We’ve witnessed or learned about outrageous acts of anger against flight attendants, or supermarket clerks, or teachers, or other parents at their kids’ athletic event. At the ballet we had to deal with a father who went ballistic when told that, since he opted not to have his child vaccinated, the child could not perform on stage per the governor’s orders. He belligerantly threatened our artistic director until he was calmed down (and apologized the next day).
This isn’t anger at the situation, it’s anger over personal unhappiness, which is very often over a perceived loss of control, today worse than ever because of the government intercession in our lives due to the pandemic. People who believe they have control—or find ways to gain control—tend to be a great deal happier and less prone to anger. But others, including those whose politics polarize them, often feel helpless and powerless when not in the majority.
In this coming year, I’m hoping that you all find your power, deal with legitimate anger in a healthy fashion, in the moment, and neither excoriate yourself nor try to pick a fight with someone else. I’m not suggesting a New Year’s resolution.
I’m suggesting a philosophy of life.
In times of great stress or adversity, it’s always best to keep busy, to plow your anger and your energy into something positive.
Speak when you are angry—and you’ll make the best speech you’ll ever regret.
—Laurence J. Peter
I am a danger to myself if I get angry.