Okay, it spares the object of your wrath a possible tongue lashing or, in some cases, maybe worse but where does that leave you as your anger sticks in your throat, threatening to choke you before you manage to swallow it down. I’ll tell you where it leaves you, walking around full of rage and before you know it a stomach ulcer.
I should know, I’m the queen of counting to ten. I was brought up with the notion that nice well-mannered people never lose their temper. Consequently, I get to grit my teeth and turn the other cheek. The problems with this approach are numerous. First off, it seems to me, the shouters, the stompers, the throwers are the ones who get what they want because the rest of us just capitulate in order to avoid a scene, swallowing down any well-deserved home truths that might have given them cause to hesitate, leaving them instead to plough on, crashing over everything that stands in their way.
And that’s not the worst of it, not by a long shot. More damaging still is the fact that after you have counted to ten or visualised your calm place or whatever the hell other nonsense you have been taught to do, you are still left with the red hot ball of anger in your chest that if you are lucky won’t give you a stroke. More than likely, you will swallow it down, where it will lie gently simmering, until the next lot joins it and then the next and before you know it you are Michael Douglas in Falling Down.
Okay, so I exaggerate but how many times have you exploded with a fury far disproportionate to the incident that has irked you because that repressed ball of fury refuses to be reined in any longer? The unseemliness of being forced to apologise to some poor unsuspecting person, who doesn’t deserve your ire, just because you bit your tongue with someone who did.
I work in an industry where I am constantly required to bite my tongue for fear of uttering some unpalatable truth. We are selling young people the myth that it is their God given right to always speak their minds and express every half-baked thought that flits through it; restraint and self-control are almost becoming dirty words. We are creating a culture based on empty praise and unrealistic expectations at the expense of anything worthwhile. We have young people who would struggle to function as a veterinary assistant aspiring to be vets and woe betide you if you should even think of suggesting they maybe lower their expectations and so you swallow down the truth. Presumably when they don’t make the grade, they will be forced to swallow down their own disappointments until we are all ticking time bombs, walking around full of anger, bitterness and frustration.
That brings me back to the boy from this morning. I convinced him to count to ten and be the bigger man. I thought I’d done a good job too but it turns out he wasn’t as convinced as I thought. By lunch time, he’d hit someone over the head with a bat but on the upside, I’m thinking at least he won’t get a stomach ulcer.