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Venting Anger

One of my college roommates had quite a temper which he often demonstrated for us. When asked why he flew off the handle so much he would comment, “Letting my anger out is an important part of getting past it. It’s much worse if I keep it bottled up inside.”

On the contrary, I believe his gratuitous displays of anger actually made things worse — for everyone. Here are a few of the concerns I personally have with his juvenile behavior.

Self Control. The true, underlying problem with his tendency to loudly vent his anger was that he failed (or refused) to stop himself. He’d make excuses for himself such as, “It’s just the way I am.” As long as he keeps telling himself that, he’ll never be able to change. The truth is that he also lacked control over some other areas of his life as well; this was simply (and sadly) part of a larger pattern.

Respect. As his roommates, we lost a lot of respect for him. We were also embarrassed by his behavior when other people were over at our apartment. Someday he’ll probably show some coworkers (or worse, his boss) just how out-of-control he can be. His temper tantrums will probably have disastrous consequences for at least his future prospects within the company. If customers and clients witness it, they’ll be turned off to the company and he may even lose his job.

Anger Snowball. Each time he gets angry and shows it, he practices the bad behavior. Contrary to the popular maxim, practice makes permanent, not perfect. In fact, he’ll get better and better at not controlling his temper. Every incident will probably outdo the previous one in its severity.

Insecurity & Attention. On more than one occasion it occurred to me that he was demonstrating more insecurity than anger. The insecurity manifested itself in a somewhat thinly-veiled cry for attention. When he thought he was alone, the theatrical element was conspicuously absent.

Example. When (or if) he has children, they’re likely to emulate his (poor) example. What a shame that they’ll have nature and nurture working against them in this regard.

Regret. When we’re overcome with emotion, we’re likely to say and do things that we don’t mean. He’d later apologize for his behavior, but the damage was done. More disappointingly, he’d revert back to the same way of expressing himself the next time he was angry.

Family. Our partner, spouse, children, and other loved ones deserve to have us treat them kindly and with respect. Home is supposed to be a safe haven from the evils and trials of the world, and the effect of inappropriately expressed anger is obvious. Family members are recognizably hurt (physically or emotionally) by the lack of control, and venting his anger could easily cross the line into abuse.

Road Rage. In the car, anger can lead to dangerous aggressive or retaliatory behavior. If someone makes a poor choice in traffic, that’s no excuse for your causing an accident. The potential for severe consequences is much higher because of the risk of serious injury/death, not to mention property damage. At the very least a poor choice may result in a ticket.

Heart On His Sleeve. (Tongue in cheek) He’ll never be a good poker player!

Conclusion

Does righteous indignation (i.e., justified anger) exist? Certainly. But regardless of the circumstances, self control is always the most appropriate method of dealing with those feelings. Channel your frustration into constructive activities such as sports or a determination to succeed.

There’s so much negativity in the world today that it’s a refreshing change to be in the company of those who exhibit self control. I personally appreciate the pleasant vibes, and the good example can be contagious!

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