Reality Check: The Angry Stance

Do you have an automatic mode? That is, do you wake up feeling pretty much the same every day? Is your first reaction to a situation more or less the same, despite whether the situation is positive or negative?

Some folks seem automatically happy, others sad. Some are easy-going; others angry. Does the situation cause the reaction? Or is it a choice of response?

To an outsider, Darren’s automatic mode is “the angry stance.” From the multitude of choices available, when given the slightest provocation, he chooses anger. But Darren doesn’t see it, so let’s look at some examples.

Darren bought a dozen roses for his girlfriend. She told him that she was delighted, and mentioned that it’s too bad that roses die so quickly. Darren chose to become angry at himself for his extravagant short-lived gift.

The boss asked Darren to work on a new project. Darren worked hard and did a great job. The boss recognized that Darren’s performance was beyond expectations and told him. However, Darren knew it wasn’t perfect, said he didn’t deserve to be praised, and instead chose to be angry about his shortcomings.

Darren painted his dad’s shed in a rush. Dad was happy with the paint job, but Darren was angry about what he viewed as sloppy work. By the time Darren finished criticizing his own performance, Dad was sad that Darren had helped.

While Darren does gets angry at others, his anger is usually directed toward himself. He knows he is capable of great things, so when he doesn’t meet his own extremely high standards, he chooses criticism and anger to motivate himself to do better.

Dr. Glasser’s Choice Theory specifies criticism as one of the deadly habits. Criticism is certainly harmful when directed toward others, but living with continuous criticism of oneself is no picnic either!

In fact, all that “beating himself up” may even contribute to Darren’s difficulties in achieving his hoped-for results. It’s hard to achieve greatness when you keep hearing (even from yourself) that you are performing well below expectations.

Here are a few questions for Darren to consider, preferably before he chooses to blast himself yet again.

  • Do I want to be angry? It’s your choice. While that first impulse may not be under your control, you have the power to choose your secondary reaction. For practice (and for fun) try some other choices, like laughing instead of self-criticizing. Or try learning, “What could I do better next time?” If you do choose anger, please don’t use it to interfere with other people’s enjoyment of their lives.
  • Is anger making my situation better or worse? Is it helping me to lead my life in the direction I want? If what you want is accomplishment, high performance, and good relationships, does being angry so much of the time help you to achieve that?
  • Does “shoulding” on myself help? OK, you are not as you want to be. It’s so hard to be perfect and few of us are! However, is anger helping you become the person you want to be?

Do you have effective methods for self- improvement?

This entry was posted in Choosing Behaviour and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Comments are closed.