I know you’re tired of being judged and I know you are often misunderstood.
You see, people just aren’t good with anger. They aren’t comfortable. It makes people around you uneasy, mistrusting, and nervous about what you are going to say or do next.
But you knew that, already, didn’t you?
You’re probably tired of being admonished for yelling when driving, for sucking your teeth when you’re out in public, for muttering under your breath, and for voicing your impatience and discontent.
You have opinions and things you care about and no one seems to care or to be listening. It doesn’t matter if you swear it from the rooftops or mutter it under your breath; your opinion doesn’t seem to matter. People keep going on around you, doing what they were going to do anyway, without considering your point of view.
You’re sick and tired of feeling sick and tired and you’ve just gotten angry.
Anger at least gives you energy. It makes you feel more in control. It gives you a sense of having energy because if you really stopped to consider how you were feeling, you might just stop altogether and you fear your ability to get back up. Anger is empowering when you feel like you have no power.
When asked what you’re so angry about, often the root of your discontent is a lack of fairness in the world or in your personal life. You see others breaking rules to get what they want and they seem to be winning and getting away with it.
You’re just wondering when it’s going to be your turn.
The 24 hour news cycle gives you more than a dozen examples every day of the little guy getting stepped on, of the selfish people winning. You see the injustice and feel trapped in it. Then, when you point out the injustice or the absurdity, you’re encouraged to just “let it go” and move on.
Over time, a funny thing starts to happen. Your short fuse, irritability, and discontent starts to become something people avoid. You talk and no one listens or responds. You’re not included in conversations or invited places. If you’re a family man, you might be startled to see your spouse and kids heading off to weekend plans without you. You weren’t invited.
Suddenly, you find yourself ignored and discounted entirely.
You see that pattern replicate itself everywhere you go. You’re skipped at work, at home, and when you are out in public. No one listens.
You start to talk and you see the side glances between people. You might hear or read lips well enough to know that one person is telling another to just ignore you, to pay you no mind and everything just gets worse.
You become more pissed off the more misunderstood you are.
I talk to and work with men like you all the time.
I know what it is that you’re trying to say and the frustration you feel when no one listens. I know that you don’t intend to act like a jerk. I know that you want to be taken seriously. I know that you feel genuinely burdened by the unfairness and injustice you see around you. I know you fear your needs and the needs of your family won’t get met unless you fight and say something.
I know you would never hit another person, call them names, or intentionally disrespect the people you care about. I know that your gruffness comes from fear and a sense of powerlessness.
I know you feel like you have nothing left, that you have tried everything and yet, the bad guys just keep winning.
I know that being accused of being abusive breaks your heart. I have seen your genuine confusion and remorse when you realize that your behavior could be considered as creating an abusive environment.
I also know that your ranting, impatience, and irritability is not working for you.
It’s costing you relationships. It’s costing you respect. You’re losing credibility and you are being left behind more and more every day.
I know this because you tell me these things.
You’re not yelling at me. You’re not swearing at me. You’re not shutting down in some numbed out state when I ask you a difficult question. You’re talking to me. You’re explaining yourself to me. You’re taking off the armor and you’re getting real.
Are you willing to do that with the people in your own life?
You’re so mad that people are trying to change you, that they don’t want you to have your opinions.
You’re raging because you don’t want to be shut down but you’re failing to see that you’re doing the same thing to them. Just like they can’t handle your upset, discontent, and anger, you have no patience for their acquiescence. You see their silence and avoidance or fight as acceptance.
When you’re yelling, swearing, ranting, and posturing, no one ever hears what you’re actually trying to say.
They just hear that you’re yelling.
The only person you have any control over in this situation is you.
You have to be willing to do things differently, if you really want to connect. After all, the way you’ve been doing it hasn’t really been working out for you.
You have to take a moment, find the person most important to you, and talk to them. Let them know that you feel your anger is misunderstood. You have to explain that your anger is the armor and shield protecting your more vulnerable feelings. You have to take a chance and explain your fears.
I know you don’t want to. This part just sucks. You’ll feel weak. You’ll feel exposed. You’ll fear rejection and the reality is that you should fear it. You may have pushed some people away so far that they’ll never come back. That’s a natural consequence of your behavior, I am afraid.
Hold on. It’s going to get harder before it gets better.
You probably owe them an apology, too. Even though you were feeling discounted, ignored, and stepped on, you likely scared or startled them. Intentionally or unintentionally, you may have made them feel disrespected.
You have to own it before you can move forward. Otherwise, they’ll be so wrapped up in their own hurt, they may still not listen.
This will feel unfair. Again, you can’t control them. You can only control you and if you want a different outcome, you have to do things differently.
Don’t worry. Once you let down your armor, it’s likely the people you really care about will drop theirs, too.
You will hopefully get to hear their remorse for ignoring you. Hopefully, they will be able to share that your upset makes them uncomfortable, not because they disagree with you but because they don’t know what to say. Raging against injustice feels as pointless as pissing in the wind but they, too, are burdened by the injustices in this world. The small ones and the major ones.
Once you stop yelling, you can start talking.
You’ll increase the likelihood of really being heard. Then, take your turn to really listen and maybe, just maybe, that’s where you will start to see real, lasting change. You just might accomplish more together than out there on an isolated island of your own making.