“Angry people want you to see how powerful they are…loving people want you to see how powerful you are.”
— Chief Red Eagle
Recently I donated my hands to a “Ladies Night Out” event. My “station” was positioned across the aisle from a table of lovely scented candles. The name of the company was Slow Burn. That name—clever for a candle company—got me thinking about anger, which just so happened to be the number two topic of most women on my table that evening, second only to stress.
Anger is a natural response, a warning bell that lets us know something’s wrong. Physically, it triggers the release of adrenaline which typically increases muscle tension, heart rate, and blood pressure. Anger only becomes a problem when we don’t manage it in a healthy way. We have two choices:
This can range from a rational conversation to a violent outburst. When we choose the latter—a violent outburst—it equates to an emotional explosion.
This is an attempt to hold it in, or ignore it. When we choose to hold it in—sweep it under the carpet—it equates to an emotional implosion.
Note: Suppression includes passive-aggressive responses where we don’t express our anger constructively; rather we scheme to retaliate instead.
Ideally we choose constructive expression—stating our concerns in a cool, calm, and collected manner—without hurting or manipulating others.
One of my favorite books on this topic is, “Anger: Wisdom for Cooling the Flames” by Thich Nhat Hanh.
According to the dictionary, when you leave someone to cool their heels, you’re “making them wait until they have calmed down.”
I have one heckofa wicked temper (some of you—bless your hearts—may find that hard to believe, but trust me, it’s oh-so-true). That, combined with a short fuse, doesn’t make for a very pleasant combination. I’ve had to work very hard to change this.
When I was a whippersnapper I found myself grounded—put on restriction, cooling my heels—on more than one occasion (okay, a lot!).
Now as a seasoned adult—a mature grownup (Len is rolling on the ground, snorting with laughter!) when I’m cooling my heels, it’s self-imposed. Not because I’m spun up about something. Rather, because I’m giving myself time, space, and stillness to ponder—to look before I leap.