The southeastern part of the United States is commonly referred to as, “The South.” There’s a saying in “The South” that anyone who has ever lived here might have heard. It goes something like, “I could just snatch him baldheaded.” The pronoun can be feminin or masculine, singular or plural.
I’ve reached the part of my writing when I first began to deal more effectively with anger. I was having trouble getting it right. I revisited my personal blog post of a few weeks ago concerning anger management. As I reread that post I realized I hadn’t quite gotten it right. I also realized there are two types of anger, the quick explosive type and the long lived type. You know the kind of thing I mean when I say “long lived?” It’s the kind of anger that you nurse and revisit over and over again. It’s the kind that festers. This post is about the quick explosive anger. Dealing with the long lived anger will come in a later post. Here’s the new and improved, “I could just snatch them baldheaded.”
A few weeks ago I had to have blood drawn for some lab tests. When I did this last year, the doctor’s office opened at 8:00 AM but they let me in half an hour early so I could give blood and be off to work. Jim dropped me off at around 7:00. I figured I’d just go up, have a seat in the waiting room and write for a while until they came to get me.?The writing I was working on concerned a situation in which a former employer made demands of me that I considered completely inappropriate. At the time, I was furious. I was filled with righteous indignation. I was right and my employer was wrong. But he was still my boss so I felt helpless. The person I asked for help gave me one of the best bits of wisdom I’ve ever received. The situation resolved itself and I learned the lesson well.
I arrived at the doctor’s waiting room and settled down. I began writing. I was completely focused on the writing because the situation about which I was writing was pivotal. I had to get it right.? When I next looked at the time I was surprised to see that it was already 8:00. I wondered why no one had come to get me. I wasn’t quite finished with what I had been writing but I shut down, packed up and went to the door. The thing was locked. What was going on? I stood near enough to the door to be sure that they’d be able to see me from inside. I waited. As the time passed I got angrier and angrier. Come on, they knew I was coming today. What was the deal?
I whipped out my cell phone and called the office number. The recording said their office hours were from 8:30 to… I didn’t hear the rest of it. How dare they change their office hours and not let me know? They knew I was coming in. They knew that I’m blind and can’t just come and go like everybody else. Here came my old friend, righteous indignation. I’d give them a piece of my mind I would. Shoving the phone back in its holster I turned back to the door and rattled the knob.
Someone opened the door. “Oh, are you here to see Dr. Smith?”?“No,” I replied barely concealing my hostility. “I’m here to get blood drawn for Dr. Jones.”?“Oh, okay, just hang on a minute,” she said, and she closed the door.
Boom, just like that, it came to me. Sixty seconds later, when the door opened again, I was completely calm and cheerful. I know, I know, that’s impossible, I can hear you thinking it out loud. But that’s what happened. It was a perfect storm. Everything that happened, everything I thought, everything I had been writing about came together in a perfect storm. It only worked because of that bit of wisdom I was once given and twenty years of practice.
In those crucial sixty seconds my thought pattern went something like this. You dolt, you’ve been writing about how you learned to manage your anger for the past hour. Weren’t you paying attention? That lady who just opened the door works for dr. Smith not Dr. Jones. She probably has no idea that you’re blind or that you’ve been sitting in the waiting room for over an hour. You think they should’ve let you know the office hours had changed? What on earth makes you think they should have thought to tell you that the office hours had changed? You usually go on and on about how you want to be treated just like everyone else. Why is this any different?
Something happens, I have a strong emotional response. Emotion is just energy. It’s how I direct the energy that determines the consequences.
My belief in what was happening to me changed. Instead of believing that they should have told me the office hours had changed, I believed that they were treating me just like everyone else, just the way I always want to be treated. Instead of believing that the woman who came to the door should know about me and my situation, I allowed myself to believe that she worked for the other doctor in the practice and had no idea of my situation.
And then I remembered the crucial concept. You can’t push a string. With a sigh and a smile I let go of the anger.
You can’t push a string. That was the advice I received when that former employer made demands of me that I felt were inappropriate. No one can argue with you if you provide no resistance. The day after those demands were made by my former employer I acquiesced. Cheerfully and confidently I said, “Yes, I’ll be happy to do what you ask.” And, boom, just like that, my employer dropped the demands. Whoa! Just like that I learned the most important lesson I’ve ever learned about how to handle anger.
Rather than seeing the office staff as an adversary, I relaxed and let myself see them as a team, not just a team, but my team. We were all on the same team. It was a team working to insure my good health.
There were a couple of other people in the waiting room by that time. They began asking questions about my dog. I could give answers to questions about my dog in my sleep so I used the time to try on this new concept, this concept of all being on the same team. By the time they took me back to draw blood I was ready.
As Mary drew my blood I realized how good she is at what she does. I told her so. Fran knows my brother, Jimmy, and always mentions him so I told her about the last time we had been together. Then I told Chris I was looking forward to my physical next week to see if the vitamin regime I had been following was working.
Instead of beginning my day in anger I began it as an engaged member of a team. Rather than arguing with my team mates I became a team cheerleader. With gratitude and a smile I pulled out my phone to call a cab.