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Thinking About Anger - Body by Henson, brain by Seuss. [entries|archive|friends|userinfo]
Kelly J. Cooper

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Thinking About Anger [Jun. 30th, 2009|12:34 am]
Kelly J. Cooper
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This is an interesting monologue on anger. I found it through Samara O'Shea's blog, Letter Lover, and the reason I clicked through to read the article is because Ms. O'Shea said
Insightful Times piece about anger and how getting angry does no good to one’s mental or physical health. It focuses on anger that fuels revenge. I struggle with this—thinking sometimes that it is my job to teach people a lesson.
And the phrase that was (and IS) KEY for me is "teach people a lesson."

One thing I have noticed is that when you attempt to "teach someone a lesson" is that they NEVER LEARN THE LESSON YOU ARE TRYING TO TEACH! I just doesn't happen. Instead, you get something like this:
Driver A cuts off driver Z.

Furious, Z cuts off A, to teach her a lesson, not knowing that A's original offense was accidental.

A has NO IDEA why Z cut her off. Therefore, Z must be an asshole.

Now A is pissed and decides to teach Z a lesson, and it escalates from there.
The KEY to keeping yourself from acting like either of these two jokers is to always remember YOU DON'T KNOW WHAT S/HE'S THINKING! You don't. You really REALLY don't. She could be late; he could be suffering from a kidney stone; she could have just signed her divorce papers; he could be chronically angry, and actively cutting off EVERYONE on the road.

YOU. DON'T. KNOW.

And if that doesn't calm you down, think about this. Yes, I'm repeating myself.

NO ONE EVER LEARNS THE LESSON YOU ARE TRYING TO TEACH.

They'll get angry, frustrated, pissed, aggravated, annoyed, inconvenienced, etc. But they will NOT EVER spontaneously say to themselves, "Gosh! I guess he showed me! I've learned my lesson! I shall never cut off another person in traffic ever again."

No.

What he's learning is that YOU ARE AN ASSHOLE! or something similar because, if the situation were reversed, that's what you'd be learning. No one ever learns the "I must be wrong!" lesson. Ever.
linkReply

Comments:
[User Picture]From: muffyjo
2009-06-30 05:15 am (UTC)
A very valid point.
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[User Picture]From: kjc
2009-07-01 03:43 am (UTC)
Thanks!
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[User Picture]From: louiseroho
2009-06-30 12:20 pm (UTC)
I have been trying to get this point across to a friend of mine for years.
Thank you for succintly saying what I have been rambling about for a long time.
I hope you don't mind if I quote you (with Attribution, Damnit!)
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[User Picture]From: kjc
2009-07-01 03:43 am (UTC)
I'd be delighted, actually. It's one of the reasons I keep my journal unlocked, to open up the conversation.
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[User Picture]From: kjc
2009-07-01 03:43 am (UTC)
*laugh* I like that.
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From: (Anonymous)
2009-06-30 12:58 pm (UTC)
What if the lesson I'm trying to teach is that I AM AN ASSHOLE?

- JP ;)
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[User Picture]From: kjc
2009-07-01 03:44 am (UTC)
Ah, Grasshopper, then the lesson is WELL LEARNED!

I hope you don't have to suffer any more forgiving jerks like me.

;)
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[User Picture]From: jason237
2009-06-30 01:59 pm (UTC)
I think people can learn the "I must be wrong" lesson, but it takes years in an abusive relationship. Which you really don't have time for when they cut you off in traffic.

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[User Picture]From: kjc
2009-07-01 03:51 am (UTC)
Er, yeah, well. I generally assume I'm in the wrong, actually, when someone flips out. Unless I've clearly observed the circumstances leading up to the situation and I KNOW that I didn't do anything wrong.

I find this true for a lot of women.

But one thing that cars & the Internet give people who've not been allowed to really express their anger is a BIG GIANT MASK OF ANONYMITY. Makes people weirdly aggressive.

Heh. If only we could express "YOUR DRIVING SKILLS ARE INADEQUATE" in quick little bursts to other drivers.
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[User Picture]From: ceo
2009-06-30 02:01 pm (UTC)
NO ONE EVER LEARNS THE LESSON YOU ARE TRYING TO TEACH.

Sing it. Especially children. Particularly and especially your own children.
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[User Picture]From: kjc
2009-07-01 03:51 am (UTC)
Heh. I'll take your word for it.

When I'm trying to teach someone something, I'm more apt to tell them a (preferably funny) story than try to FORCE THEM to LEARN SOMETHING.
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[User Picture]From: iy
2009-06-30 02:43 pm (UTC)
I hear you. I think I try (the key would here is try) to remember three things - the first is that in general everybody is doing the best they can at any given time -and that may suck but its all they can manage. Two - if you want to let someone know how you are feeling revenge works significantly less well then communication and three sometimes I'm the one with the problem - I'm too stressed, overwhelmed etc to deal

Maybe not the total point of the post but what came to my mind. look forward to seeing you soon
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[User Picture]From: kjc
2009-07-01 03:53 am (UTC)
Yeah, I often notice I get more red lights when I'm cranky.

Good thoughts.
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[User Picture]From: dpolicar
2009-06-30 03:07 pm (UTC)
(nods) Mostly I think people learn the lesson that people will do mean things.
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[User Picture]From: kjc
2009-07-01 03:54 am (UTC)
Yeah, or that people suck. I think a bad deed sends out as many ripples as a good deed.
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[User Picture]From: metagnat
2009-06-30 07:41 pm (UTC)
Intended outcome is usually what I try to keep in mind when interacting with others. It doesn't mean I don't get angry, and sadly, sometimes, it means that the anger gets spilled onto the people I care about instead of those that caused it.

I think some people think of my dislike of speaking up as wishy-washiness or an inability to stand up for myself. Sometimes it might get to that level of badness, but most of the time, I think it helps me to avoid pointless and unpleasant situations.

-E
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[User Picture]From: kjc
2009-07-01 03:56 am (UTC)
Maybe you should let your anger fly at the appropriate target, but in a private way? I yell at people in the car all the time! I just don't cut them off or try weird little passive aggressive tricks to make them feel bad (as I've seen drivers do to me or another driver).

I'm still annoyed after the event, but the yelling helps blow off some steam.

Maybe there's some way you could direct that anger to a pillow or punching bag who's not a friend? Dunno.

My sympathies.
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