Years ago, I dated a guy who told me I had two speeds: easy going and raving lunatic.
I thought about the assessment for a moment. And I concurred.
“But when I get to raving lunatic it means I’ve been taking a whole lotta crap for quite a while,” I pointed out. “You might think it comes out of the blue, but it doesn’t.”
He muttered something about communication skills and I said something rather directly about common courtesy and consideration. Neither of us really got the other’s point, which is probably why we parted ways eventually.
The truth is, I’m really bad at anger. Completely awful. It boils down to several things:
1. I don’t like appearing angry. I prefer the perception of easy going, so I deny I’m angry for a really long time.
2. I am not comfortable with confrontation because it bugs me for the other person not to agree they are out of line.
3. The physical reaction to anything in this family of emotions is highly uncomfortable and I’d prefer to avoid it for as long as possible.
4. And I’m intuitive. We intuitives tend do respond to drama because we don’t miss anything.
Anyway, I heard somewhere if you place your hands on your legs palms up it’s impossible to get angry. I’ve also heard interlacing your fingers and holding palms skyward up serves the same purpose. At the time I wasn’t sure I believed it, and I dismissed the concept. But I got an opportunity to try it out a couple of weeks ago at the powder keg of peasant hostility: the Department of Motor Vehicles.
If you will recall, I lost my driver’s license somewhere between Houston and San Diego, which meant an afternoon at the DMV. After four hours of waiting, I discovered the documents I was told were acceptable to prove my identity were not.
I so wanted to go into director mode, yelling at people and demanding President Obama issue me a new license just out of principal. Or something.
But then I remembered the whole finger lacing thing. And I did it.
Okay, so this act, as simple as it may be, is like creating a straight jacket for your mental self. I’m not sure exactly why this vodoo works, but it totally does.
You simply can’t get angry with your fingers in the latter form of “Here is the church, here is the steeple, open the door and here’s all the people”.
All I can figure is anger needs momentum and if your arms are wailing all about the adrenaline increases from movement. Or it could just be awkward to have a conversation with your fingers laced up. I have no idea.
I said my peace. Calmly almost. But the bigger point is this: I had no post rage physical symptoms as I usually do when these things happen. No migraine. No shakiness. No exhaustion. And on the flip side, I wasn’t pretending not to be angry. It was just simply over and I could continue my day.
As I got into my car, I mentally thanked God for this little discovery. Because I hate— hate— my angry self. And saying stuff like “then just don’t be angry” really doesn’t work for me. I need a “thing”, a crutch, something to lean on because, honestly, I’m not perfect and this is my nasty beast brooding in the back of my mind, waiting for the opportunity to rationalize its unleashing.
I’m still not convinced you can argue a feeling is wrong. But as long as life is ninety percent how you respond to all the other crap perhaps I need to put the whole finger lacing thing as my first defense mechanism, as opposed to my assertive voice and aggressive mouth. That and being aware of what you have to do and what you don’t and just not being a part of the stuff you don’t will make all of the difference in the world.
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