An Unhealthy Habit
I’ve actually seen friends and family members burst into tears when I raise my voice to express even the slightest hint of frustration. Listen, if you are ever on the receiving end of my expression of anger and become alarmed, please don’t try to explain to me that your shock is because my display of emotion is “out of character.” This will only serve to make me angrier, because all I’ll hear is, “Jael, I am only comfortable with you when you express a limited range of emotions. Please stay within those boundaries. Thank you.”
It’s not that I don’t feel anger as much as the next person. It’s that at some point in my life, I learned to deal with anger in a relatively healthy way. I typically try to think before I speak, try to empathize, identify solutions, and give myself space and time to deal with my emotions. But even with those skills, I do have some unhealthy habits that I’m trying to work on. The chief of which is having, “imaginary arguments.” Come on, I can’t be the only one who does this! You mean to tell me that you haven’t extended your shower by half an hour, or scrubbed the dishes until you can see your face in them? While all that time you were having an imaginary argument with someone who did you wrong?
When it comes to having arguments in my head, I am undefeated! I haven’t lost an imaginary argument yet! Last night, I actually had one with my coworker. I won that argument, hands down! She just doesn’t know it.
But as good as winning an imaginary argument feels, it doesn’t really mean anything. All I’ve done is waste energy and time and not really resolved the problem I was having. I’m actually faring worse, because I stayed up past my bedtime last night having an imaginary argument and now I’m going to be tired all day. How much better would it have been if I actually shared what I was feeling with my coworker? Communicating with her would have been more beneficial to our relationship and would have honored my (very valid) feelings. Hmm, something to think about the next time that I’m tempted to have another imaginary argument.
My dear Brothers and Sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry (James 1:19, NIV).
Jael Amador writes from New York, New York.
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