I've been doing a lot of work around anger lately; an emotion that I used to suppress and internalise much to my detriment. It's not healthy to suck down your rage. Now that I've started to release the internal pressure cooker, things have become a little explosive and everything seems to be pissing me off.
So for your amusement, here are my Top 10 Things That Make Me Angry:
#10: Being Ignored
I'm at the cash register at the local farmers market last weekend, and the guy behind the counter is too busy talking to his mate next to him to get around to serving me. I'm not actually in a hurry until the point where I start being ignored. Then suddenly time becomes of the essence.
“Hello!!! Would you mind actually serving me, instead of just talking to your mate? I got shit to do today!”
One day soon I'll have the confidence to actually say it, rather than just think it.
#9: Unsolicited Advice
Since when did everyone on the planet become a life coach? Seems like every second day someone is dispensing unsolicited advice that I didn't ask for, don't need and think isn't even very well suited to the problems I'm facing. Yet the stream of bullshit keeps flowing my way.
Well I actually am a life coach. When I'm coaching a client, giving advice is the last thing I do. First I validate their feelings and make sure we both fully understand the problem; consciously and unconsciously. Then we deal with unconscious blockages. Then I ask them what they think they should do to solve their own problem. I only ever offer advice if I know of some resource that they're genuinely not aware of, and when I'm on top of my game I only do it after getting them to explore the options first. Then I'll task them with it as homework. Given that they're paying me to coach them, it's hardly unsolicited!
Unsolicited advice is a whole different story. Shove that up your ass where it belongs.
#8: Abandonment Conditioning
Ivan Pavlov worked out that you can condition animals with rewards and punishment, much to the delight of pet owners everywhere. Given that humans are animals, many people have worked out that you can condition responses from humans too; and some controlling, manipulative authority figures use physical, social or emotional abandonment as their chosen form of punishment.
Catholics call it “excommunication”, Scientologists call it “disconnection”, controlling parents call it “discipline”; I call it bloody annoying. It's especially annoying when done in response to my legitimate feelings, because other people can't be bothered handling theirs.
#7: Pretending Not To Be Angry
One of my counsellors described environments where everyone habitually denies their feelings as crazy-making. It's the best and most succinct description I've come across for the impact of collective emotional repression and denial. It drives me nuts when an angry person responds with raging denial when I offer empathy for the fact that they're clearly angry.
The conversation tends to go like this:
Me: “Sounds like you're angry.”
Them: “I AM NOT ANGRY!!!”
The reason your heart is racing, your throat is tensing up and you're shouting at me is because you're angry. There's nothing wrong with being angry, but it would make both our lives a whole lot easier if you could learn to identify/accept/acknowledge your anger... instead of denying and dumping it on me. Quit pretending that you're a robot and start acting like an actual human.
#6: The Forgiveness Speech
Another variant of people pretending not to be angry is when they launch into what I call The Forgiveness Speech when I start talking about my experience of anger. It's the one that goes:
“You need to learn to forgive”
“Being angry is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die”
... or some other enlightened wisdom. These people really piss me off. It's not that what they are saying is wrong, it's the fact that invariably they're saying it to avoid the fact that deep down they're full of unacknowledged rage that they don't want to face.
#5: Being Told I'm Wrong, When I'm Not
Another thing I really hate is being told that I'm wrong, when I'm not. Especially when it's by a stupid person being aggressive. Or aggressively stupid. Bad, bad combination. Don't even get me started on the topic of religious nonsense or people trying to push their limiting beliefs onto me.
I relate to the quote by Bertrand Russell:
“The fundamental cause of the trouble is that in the modern world the stupid are cocksure while the intelligent are full of doubt.”
Stupid people telling me that I'm the one that's wrong, really piss me off.
#4: Denying My Experience
People telling me that I'm wrong about my own experience really gets me. Who is the expert on my own experience? I am, obviously, because I was at the centre of it. I might well be wrong about my interpretation of what happened, my feelings about it might seem irrational (well duh, they are feelings after all) and my memory of it may be flawed; but it's still my experience. Don't go rejecting my reality and substituting your own just because you don't want to deal with the truth.
#3: Not Feeling Heard
I get that other people's point of view is important to them, and sometimes my feelings, opinions or beliefs might seem like a threat. That's no excuse for not listening to me when I have some emotions running that I'd like to have acknowledged. The problem isn't really so much that other people are not listening, since I'm sure their eardrums are vibrating nicely, their ossicles are amplifying appropriately and their auditory nerve and auditory cortex are working just fine.
It's that I'm not getting any empathic feedback to allow me to feel heard.
If my feelings, beliefs or opinions are really too frightening to acknowledge, get yourself some therapy to learn to deal with it, rather than shutting me down.
#2: Being Talked Over
When you talk, I listen. When I talk, you listen. This is how a respectful conversation works. It's not rocket science. I get especially angry when other people start talking over me just because they don't like what I'm saying. This usually happens when other people get upset at what I am saying, as if simply being upset is a license to stop acting respectfully. Well it's not.
When we're upset is the most important time to have good boundaries based on mutual respect in place. And that means: Don't talk over me!
#1: Criticism When I Need Empathy
By far the thing that definitely pisses me off the most is when I'm upset about something and I receive judgemental criticism instead of the compassionate empathy that my brain really needs.
Being criticised for how I feel definitely tops my list of the most annoying things on the planet.
Lately I've been noticing the harsh coldness of supposedly well-meaning people launching so-called “tough love” at me when I'm distressed, rather than actual empathic love. It's always an avoidance tactic because what I'm feeling is making them uncomfortable about their unresolved emotional baggage, but that doesn't help me any when I'm upset. It just really gives me the shits.
So what things make you angry?