Most of us collect anger IOU’s that have a tendency to accumulate and fester in our unconscious. More often than not, these anger IOUs are created by other people, including loved ones and good friends, too. Sometimes a neighbor, a boss or an acquaintance creates these IOUs, and we begin to resent these people; and they start to own us without us being conscious of our resentment until it is too late to control our anger towards them any longer.
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• Anger IOUs start when we believe someone is putting us down. The put-down may occur when we are alone with them or when others are within hearing distance.
For example, you have an in-law who consistently corrects you, often in public. This correction may be as simple as the way you set a table or as significant as the way you raise your kids.
Instead of confronting the in-law, we keep our mouths shut, but the anger is there each and every time you feel insulted. Your collection of anger IOUs starts to grow, and before you know it, you have a book of IOUs accumulated over months and sometimes even years.
• There comes a day when you decide to cash in your collection of IOUs. That day may be in private or in public. When you have had it, you don’t care about the consequences of blasting your tormentor.
• The confrontation day may occur over a very simple incident. Your in-law, once again, criticizes your housekeeping; and all of that past anger comes alive. You let go of both barrels and yell at the in-law and talk for two minutes, making it very clear how long you have resented him; and you don’t care if you ever see him again.
The in-law is shocked, and everyone in the room can’t believe you are so angry about the in-law criticizing your housekeeping. In fact, the incident that triggered your explosion is not that important. The in-law and everyone in the room doesn’t realize how long you have hated the little put-downs and the advice you didn’t want from the in-law.
Probably you, too, are surprised with your decision to fight back and clear the air. You don’t scream in your everyday life, and it’s unusual for you to dislike, much less hate anybody.
• If your anger IOUs are collected in a work situation with our boss, you are in a no-win, frustrating situation. How do you do combat with someone who decides if you receive a paycheck or not?
Often, when you have a boss who creates angry IOUs for you, you take your anger out on others, including loved ones and co-workers. They don’t determine your employment status, and they are more inclined to forgive your anger.
• Earlier in this column, I stated that these tormentors “start to own you.” In other words, they, and not you, determine if you have inner peace.
When we decide to dislike or hate someone, they own our emotions. Every time we see them or someone mentions their names, we become tense, upset and mad. They create an emotional prison for us.
• Do not allow outside sources or other people to decide your inner harmony. When you realize someone is manufacturing anger IOUs for you, do something about it. Try talking to the tormentor in private. If he refuses to change his behavior, confront him verbally and publicly, if necessary.
The confrontation should occur early in the relationship. After the second insult, make your move. If he refuses to change, it’s OK to forgive him. The Cherokee says to forgive him, but it doesn’t mean you have to invite him to your home. I agree with the Cherokee.
Bob Billingsley is a columnist at the Mountain Democrat. His column appears bi-weekly.