Cambodia 398

“Doc, let me give you a tip. When you are talking to them about it, don’t sound upset.”


“Don’t sound upset.”

“Upset? When did I sound upset?” 

“The other day when you were talking about the way they were handling documents.”

“I WAS upset. They keep doing that no matter how many times I talk to them without sounding upset. THEY ARE JUST NOT LISTENING. I don’t do that all the time, do I?”

“I’m not keeping count…”

“Ok, but I wasn’t yelling or making accusations or throwing things or cussing. I let them see a glimpse of how crazy this makes me feel.”

So I have been thinking, what is wrong with showing emotion? Should we not show anything but positive emotion? Should we cocoon ourselves in a fake PolyAnna land where we all go skipping along singing about the birds and the trees? Sterilize the world of all negativity?

I have been telling my kids that anger is not the problem, it is what you do with it that matters. Is that wrong? Should I teach them to supress it or how to use it constructively and respectfully? 

I just don’t know anymore….


122 thoughts on “Consternation 

  1. I think you should teach them to use it constructively and respectively. I am sure its going to a tough one to teach but if successful, it’ll be amazing. 😀
    Intuitive article. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  2. No… this isn’t a fluffy fairyland. We need anger to create the changes the world needs… to fuel determination… We need laughter and tears and wonder too… You are right, it isn’t emotion that’s the problem. We are. And what we choose to do with it.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. People are so self-important and touchy these days that they can’t take constructive criticism. It seems to me you’re doing exactly the right thing in the right way. I certainly think you’re teaching your children the right thing about anger.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Like everything, it’s a question of balance. To not be emotional may suggest unfeeling and uncaring. To show too much could be seen as anger.
    Be honest, imho it’s better for you than to try and please the idiots by suppressing what you really feel.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. We definitely need to teach our children the truth. Sometimes the truth is sunshine and butterflies and sometimes it is as ugly as sin. We need to manage our emotions, not deny them or try to manipulate with them. The truth is so important, so powerful it’s worth fighting for against a weird attempt at sterilizing our environment, experience, existence. (Can you tell I’ve though about this quite a bit?)

    Liked by 2 people

    • All of these people say during their interviews that they welcome constructive criticism. This is not true. They do not handle any criticism. Understandably, knowing you are not doing something right is a tough blow to the pride, but you listen, you fix it and you move on, right? Someone is not teaching them how to do this.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. In B-school they taught that emotions were your enemy and it was important to remain emotionless. In my 30+ years of managing experience I have found that is not true – but the truth is hard and it is a good approximation that produces better results than allowing emotions to control. However.that said, if you can harness and use your emotions by linking to them as a tool and using them when it benefits your argument or position, then you have a very powerful convincer indeed. The trick is to use your emotions when you have a righteous anger or sadness (or whatever) for another – not for self. That is hard because we often get angry when frustrated or when we feel our authority is being challenged. Set that anger aside – it is read by others as selfish and childish and counter-productive. The real problem will disappear against a background of ego. If you can set yourself aside and feel for others then you can express your anger – always staying within the bounds of the situation – and it will benefit all concerned.

    As an example I had a long term, very efficient employee, who consistently ran down newer employees and destroyed any sense of team work. He was the most productive individual that we employed but the job was huge and required team work to maximize productivity. This employee – we’ll call him Jim – would often yell at other employees and berate them calling them a waste of space and useless. I called Jim into my office numerous times and explained that he was being destructive and that he was harming his own efforts by berating rather than teaching the others. He had a designation as a “lead” employee, which gave him more wages and the authority to organize work patterns and engage others in getting the work done. Jim had the knowledge and skill to accomplish this but not the attitude. For a year this went on and no matter how I tried to address it, with training and guidance and videos and even disciplinary action – it did not change. The one day, my assistant and I were walking by Jim and he let lose on a new employee, calling him names and berating him unmercifully in a very emotional diatribe. I stopped the encounter and ordered Jim into my office immediately and with anger. My assistant started to leave and I told him I wanted him as a witness.(I normally kept all disciplinary action private.) This was done in front of the new employee and others in the vicinity (and I knew it would travel via the grapevine to all others). The witness thing obviously bothered Jim as that behaviour was reserved for termination.
    We entered my office and I directed my assistant to close the door. It was a manufacturing environment, so my office was sound proofed. I remained standing and told Jim to sit down – there was only one chair for visitors so my assistant remained standing. I looked down on Jim, using my height as a force multiplexer. I explained carefully that his behaviour was not acceptable and he was aware of that. I then allowed my anger at his mistreatment of others to explode (remember this was a rough environment) and I bellowed with pure furious anger: “WHAT THE FUCK DID YOU THINK YOU WERE DOING? YOU WERE FUCKING WARNED ABOUT ABUSING OTHERS AND YET YOU PERSIST IN BEING HATEFUL! ARE YOU TOO FUCKING DENSE TO UNDERSTAND – DO I HAVE TO FIRE YOU?!” Then I shut off the anger and sat down calmly. He (and my assistant) had never seen me do this before – apparently losing it – and they both recoiled and looked very scared. I then said to Jim: ” See how you felt when I called you names and threatened you? That is exactly how your co-workers feel when you rail on them. IT is not very pleasant is it?” Jim was speechless and shook his head. Meanwhile, I saw my boss’s boss run by my office window. I found out later that he had been in one of the adjoining offices in the block and had heard the screaming and thought a fight was happening and was trying to figure out where the screaming was coming from. Ha! He looked into my office and saw a calm discussion and ran off figuring the fight must be somewhere else.

    I told Jim to go out on the dock and treat others the way he would want to be treated and I let him go. And I reminded him to not forget this meeting and how he felt each time he got upset at anyone.

    Jim’s attitude changed and turned around from that moment forward. What I had tried to accomplish for a year with a calm emotionless approach was achieved in 30 seconds with an emotional release of righteous anger. I would have had to have fired him if I had continued with the calm approach. This is obviously an extreme example but the concept remains the same – use emotions in a controlled manner to make your point. And only use them when you are expressing concern for others – not for your own defense or self-justification. You can express your personal emotions by saying things like “that makes me angry” or “that makes me uncomfortable” or “That makes me happy” – but those admissions have to be expressed calmly and in a controlled manner. The bottom line is that when controlled, emotions are a powerful tool.

    Liked by 3 people

  7. Use it constructively, absolutely. I don’t want to be one of the sheeple that fits into society’s “ideal” of how to act. I don’t want fake, I don’t do fake. I do real and honest and if that included anger then so be it. If you can’t listen, I’m going to go to your supervisor, then their supervisor and so on if need be.
    Frustration and anger are real feelings. Why should we pretend we aren’t bothered by someone else’s idiocy? I don’t.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. When I’m genuinely angry about something, I’m hardly able to talk. I’m too shaky and upset. But after I’ve calmed down to the point of just feeling irritated, any display of anger is not genuine. If I want to intimidate someone into complying with my wishes, I might take on an angry tone. But it isn’t genuine. It’s more of a show. Like you say, I’m letting people see “a glimpse of how crazy” something makes me feel. Even though I’ve gone past that feeling of craziness. I hope I’ve made sense, here. 😉

    Liked by 2 people

  9. I think you are spot on. Anger is not a negative or bad emotion in and of itself. Internalized anger morphs into all sorts of nasty stuff..depression, cancer, etc. (I didn’t read any of the other comments/ didn’t want them to influence what I would say) You may have already covered this ground multiple times. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Sometimes your posts are just so incredibly timely.

    Right now, I want to throttle a member of my staff, who lacks basic problem solving skills (we are not going in to the fact that he hung up on me).

    By Monday when I see him, I will be calm, cool and collected.

    I’m a nice boss, 99% of the time. But sometimes people need to know that they are screwing up/not behaving professionally, etc. How else are they going to learn?

    This, I believe, is the result of everybody getting a trophy.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. I wholeheartedly believe in feeling and expressing the entire range of emotion and not stuffing it away. But it’s true that expressing emotions other than ones deemed ‘positive’ make so many people uncomfortable, as does the vulnerability it takes to do so. And to receive it, it’s scary and exposing, even though it shouldn’t be. We’ve made it that way.

    I, too, hope that we can pass on the importance of feeling one’s feelings and the ability to express them in compassionate and respectful ways. Also to receive from others in that same manner. That skill may not protect them, because feelings get hurt and vulnerability sucks sometimes. But, above all, I truly believe that knowing and trusting oneself and being compassionate to another’s feelings is maybe the best tool we can give them. Or encourage in them. I wish we could all do that well, because you’re right, the world is a scary place and these interactions and connections make all the difference.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. How you express anger is the issue. To many are not in control of their emotions, and in fact see no reason to be in control. They see it as their right to “tell it like it is.” The fallout can be terrible, and nonproductive.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. I grew up in a household that expressed anger…early and often. They got it all out, apologized, moved on. It was terrifying to witness the verbal explosions as a child.

    I married into a family that suppressed those emotions, never raising voices, never subjecting themselves to confrontation of any kind. That is so much worse. The undercurrent of tension is palpable.

    There is a middle ground, and it has been my life’s goal to find it. Time will tell. I’m watching my own adult children. ☺

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Zipity do dah Zipity eh my oh my what a wonderful day, plenty of sunshine headed my way…What? Oh uh..teach them to use it constructively. Feeling’s are good. Suppressing is dangerous IMHO.

    Liked by 1 person

  15. I think it is good to try to express your frustration before it gets to the point that you blow up. This is experience talking. I have sometimes tended to go along until I would lose it. Then feel guilty for losing it. Need to let out the steam a little at a time and avoid the buildup. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  16. Great questions. I wonder about this also. I have a tendency to stifle negative emotions but I think it may be better to learn how to use them in a positive way and view them as a way to grow in character. I do tell my son “it’s ok to be angry but try to be respectful when you express it”. This is a path I am still learning about. It’s not easy.

    Liked by 1 person

  17. I find I just need to to be more oblique and way more passive-aggressive. Doesn’t elicit a constructive response but then nothing will anyway! This way you let it loose and half the time, you’re so oblique that the dumba**es don’t even get it, which only translates into more fun! Ok I’ll shut up now! 😀

    Liked by 1 person

  18. I’ve spent much of my life working to overcome a fear of anger. It’s not a healthy fear. I don’t intentionally appear calm, I just don’t like feeling angry. The rush some people get addicted to, feels awful to me. Maybe it’s because my mother’s anger all got twisted into depression. If I do yell or cuss, people pay attention, but I’d still rather not get to that point. More balance would be nice. I’d love to be able to show anger and not feel guilty about it. I can hear my inner parent encouraging me: “Yeah! You tell ’em! Get it all out!”

    Liked by 1 person

  19. I don’t know, either. I just know that right now in my life I can’t handle any intensely emotional interactions with people. For some reason right now they all seem fake. I’m surrounded at the moment (in my new town and new life) by nice people who like me. That feels fake (not used to that, for sure). When they (in meetings etc.) get cranky or irritated with each other and a confrontation ensues, it seems so absurd to me because I don’t see the consequences to anything that’s going on in our mutual areas of interest. No ones being shot, fired, dropping out of school, dealing with PTSD (except maybe me). I have realized that I am just not allowing myself to become entangled and that is because I don’t want to become invested, to risk emotions. Anger can turn in on itself if it isn’t dealt with, but I’m not sure expressing it is the solution. Mostly I do not think people listen to each other so there’s really no point in ever getting our knickers in a bunch. But I also don’t think I’m fully in my right mind at the moment. 😉

    Liked by 1 person

    • Well, I hear what you are saying. Rest assured, letting anyone see the full level of my emotions is a rare thing. If I show any anger it is a flash in the eye or an edge to the voice. It not a violent rage by any means. When I see people behaving that way, it seems surreal and pointless.

      Liked by 1 person

  20. Being angry is one thing. Controlling the anger is the difficult part. I used to have a short fuse but after forcing myself to calm down and say nothing I was able to learn to partially control the energy anger releases.

    Especially my training in fencing, the modern sport (martial art at its core) taught me how to control myself and keep my composure. You do not allow yourself to lose control, you stay polite and when your limit is reached walk out or confront the situation. Whatever happens stay polite and mannered.

    A state of anger is inertia. Energy is accumulating and time goes on. Find a hobby, sport or passion and do it. Become good at it and do your thing.

    Rudeness and being loud are understandable. At the same time some politesse, calmness and patience get you further. When people yell too much I have to turn away at one point. I am prepared to listen, not to become deaf…

    Liked by 1 person

    • Fencing is a beautiful sport to watch! I would never, ever yell or loose control. Not at the clinic, at least. I am surprised at how little emotion shown is considered a negative thing. This is what bothers me most. No level of anger or displeasure is allowed at all at any point? That seems unhealthy.

      Liked by 1 person

      • The extent to which you can express yourself is a matter of personal choices. For me personally when people go too far I state my limits and reasons and/or walk out. When a situation has to be dealt with I deal with it even if it hurts. Certain people I simply avoid.

        Knowing there is no more misunderstanding is enough for me.

        Liked by 1 person

  21. I am a therapist and I deal all day with people who were taught or they caught that anger, irritation, etc were not allowed. So now they are in my office, seething with resentment, bitterness and fear that they will be rejected if/when they decide to express anger, rage, or resentment. So please all you parents out there, teach your kids how to express anger and then release the energy that comes with it, so I don’t have to teach them those skills as an adult.

    Liked by 2 people

  22. Trust your instinct. That’s my vote. If we aren’t allowed to express we are angry, then it never gets resolved. If we don’t ever have to deal with other people’s anger, we are asking the world to let us become soft, incapable and weak. Anger is NOT always a bad thing. Let’s all learn how to use it.

    Liked by 1 person

  23. I always say that it is too bad as adult we are not aloud to scream and cry out our issues. It so much healthier and it lessens stress and chronic illnesses. We have a reflex (just like other animals) when we are upset that we shudder. But we are taught to suppress it.. Shaking is a natural. Look at any animal that “plays dead” as a defense mechanism and you will see they will shake as they “come back to life” They have finally discovered that people who are allowed to shake after an accident or “event” have less long term effect from the event. As children, when we were really upset, we naturally shake unless we are told to stop it because it is shameful.
    After I woke up in ICU after the decision to not to the operation because the blood clots were gone, I shook and shuddered uncontrollably. I was fine. I have no trauma from that whole event because I released it. Anger and strong emotions are part of the gift of being human. But we need the outlet to release them.

    Liked by 1 person

  24. We have a lot (of issues) in common. LOL. I’ve been struggling to understand and handle anger the past year. The bk Dance with Anger by Lerner (PhD) that a reader posted on was interesting and helpful. Chk it out. I have to revisit the pages I flagged. I’m sure you’ll get something out of it. As to your question, I dunno. I’m stumped as a parent.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I will look up the book, then! In a supervisory role, women are pretty much forbidden to express any anger or displeasure which is a fascinating thing to watch, and a frustrating thing to be the target of. I have had so much angst over it in the past that I have reached the point where if I know that I have peace that I handled it in a respectful way, then I am not really losing too much sleep over it. I fear for my kids, especially my daughter, though.

      Liked by 1 person

  25. Suppressing emotions can be unhealthy. If one continually bottles everything up then, sooner or later there will be one huge explosion. The pressure must have a release. That is not to say that one should (as the saying has it) “throw your toys out of the pram”, but there are ways of expressing emotion without shouting and screaming. As you rightly indicate, the world is not all sweetness and light and it would be silly to go round pretending it is. Kevin

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  26. So I have been thinking, what is wrong with showing emotion? Should we not show anything but positive emotion? Should we cocoon ourselves in a fake PolyAnna land where we all go skipping along singing about the birds and the trees? Sterilize the world of all negativity?

    I don’t think there’s anything wrong with showing emotion, and people who criticize others for doing so seem to have major issues of their own. If I’m happy, I’ll laugh. If I’m angry, I’ll be angry and punch a pillow or ‘kill’ things in my game. It’s healthy and natural to display emotion, in a healthy, non-destructive way – we are human beings, not robots or cyborgs…but I think that there are people out there who would prefer it if we were! Scary, isn’t it?

    Liked by 1 person

  27. Curious if the person giving you this “tip” was a man or a woman? Interesting either way, though my own experiences give me a strong suspicion…

    What I find throw-my-hands-in-the-air frustrating about your scenario (which I’ve had my own version of aplenty) is the “helpful hinter.” The person who just wants YOU to know how OTHER people feel when THEY feel how YOU feel…all as reported by this third party. Women are not only expected to show fewer angry or upset emotions — we are also subject to having whatever emotions we do show getting interpreted as bigger, more emotional, than if displayed in identical ways by a man.

    Patriarchy, the gift that keeps on giving!

    Liked by 1 person

  28. How we channel the anger is important and not everyone can do it I think…including me…so I tend to keep mum lest I say something harsh, when my actual intention is not to hurt the person..

    Liked by 1 person

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