Anger: An Introduction
Oh, lordy, when I worked, would I get pissed. I remember one afternoon: I’d been stood up twice, so naturally, I was furious. Walking to meet my girlfriend, some guy on the street muttered something in my direction. I didn’t hear what, but it didn’t matter. He was bothering me, so I went off, screaming in his face. My girlfriend came up to us, but I didn’t even see her, I was so lost in a red rage. She gave me a long, hard look, and said, “Girl, you have lost your shit.” She got that right. I had no place to vent my work frustration, so I took it out on a total stranger.
Over the next few days and weeks, I started to notice all my petty little aggressions at work: rudeness, impatience, cracking mean jokes. It was right in front of my face, but I hadn’t seen it before: I was mad all the time. I also noticed how safe and familiar that anger felt. The thought of not feeling it terrified me. How could I possibly be safe without it?
Anger is tricky—it cuts all kinds of ways. Unlike shame and unworthiness and all those other soggy emotions, rage is fiery, protecting us from a dangerous world. But acting hostile and mean guarantees others treat us badly in return. Over time, anger grinds us down, eroding our trust in life. There are plenty of reasons to wanna holler in the Biz, but you cannot let anger ride you. Bitterness is the express train to burnout.
In this section, I’ll discuss the dynamics of rage, and how it can take over our lives. I’ll offer heartfelt advice on letting it go, and practical advice on how to detach from triggers while still allowing juicy deliciousness in. And I’ve included two additional exercises in empathy and forgiveness, because only through compassion for one another can we break the cycle of endless grievance.