“Habitual aggressive reactivity is deceptive; it works in the short term yet will destroy everything you love in the long term.” ~ Lisa Merlo-Booth
Staying grounded in the most challenging times is a skill few people have mastered. Throughout the world, we see political leaders losing their cool, coaches blowing their tops, parents shaming their kids, and individuals raging at their partners. Our culture not only normalizes rage and aggression, it continually promotes it.
Politicians, leaders, coaches, teachers, parents, and adults, across the board, justify, encourage, and model aggression, intimidation, and emotional abuse daily. The general message is that it’s okay to shut others down—with your words, your rage, or your fists if necessary—if you don’t like what they’re doing, saying, or believing. You can tell your spouse to shut up, shame your child into submission, berate your staff, or threaten your neighbor if you don’t like how they’re acting. Some would even say that another person’s actions cause them to blow up. (Whew?!)
Most people know that blowing up shuts people down, and aggressively acting out gets people off your back. Aggression works, or people wouldn’t do it. However, blowing up only works in the short run. Children will quiet down, spouses will drop the issue, employees will work harder, and people will get off your back. All that immediate positive reinforcement can be intoxicating for you. You get to blow up, and everyone around you backs off. It can feel immense to have so much “power.”
However, our culture fails to tell you the long-term impact of habitual aggressive reactivity. The truth is that no one likes to be bullied. People grow tired of having to walk on eggshells around your anger. Employees lose respect for you and lose loyalty to the company. Spouses grow more distant, resentful, and hopeless about the marriage. And children model your rage or the other parent’s acquiescence in their future relationships. Over time, your anger pushes everyone away, and you’re left in the abyss of what you created.
Angry volatility is tricky because it works for a long time—until it doesn’t. Don’t be allured by the sense of false power it gives you. The tables almost always turn with unchecked anger and before you know it, what used to “work” becomes the very thing wreaking havoc.
Challenge: Turn down your anger’s volume, intensity, and aggression. No matter how much you believe your attack is serving you or even “necessary, “I guarantee you it is not. Don’t wait until your heat is burning down your life before you turn it down. Stop excusing your aggression and start to manage your anger rather than allowing it to control you.