Do people really MAKE us angry?

Have you ever had an emotional response to a situation that you weren’t proud of -- and then afterward you said to yourself, “Why did I get so mad and act like such an idiot?!!” I've been there many times. In fact, this just recently happened.

Moey, my wife, had just ordered replacement parts for our kitchen faucet and so we started fixing it.

(**cue the ominous background music of doom**)  

I don’t know what it is about me, but plumbing and I don’t typically get along very well. More often than not, what starts as a seemingly simple plumbing job turns out to be a massive struggle. This instance was no exception. I crammed myself under the sink and with water dripping in my face, I wrestled, I fought, I grumbled, I mumbled, BUT -- I persevered and fixed it!


I wish that was the end of the story but true to form, as soon as I had everything put back together, I realized that I had forgotten to replace a vital part of the faucet! NO! I had to take everything back off and do the whole process...AGAIN!! 


I started to feel the anger building, but I was able to remain calm as I went through the whole process again. Yes! I did it...AGAIN...with a marginally decent attitude. Soon after the second apparent victory, my wife tested out the faucet and found that the sprayer wasn’t functioning. The hose that controls the sprayer was wrapped around a pipe underneath the sink and now wouldn’t work properly.  


This is when I threw my little fit as I reacted angrily at her (even though it was not her fault) and had a pity party for myself. After that, I went through the whole process yet again.


I have since apologized and we are good -- but why did I do that?  


Why do we so often “lose control” of our emotions and react in ways that we can regret?


Have you ever said something like…

  • “People who take 15 items into a 12 items or less check out lane drive me crazy!”

  • “That person on my team makes me so mad sometimes.”

  • “That customer ruined my whole day.”

  • “My boss made me feel stupid in front of the whole team!”


Wise and healthy leaders understand that no one makes us feel a certain way.  If we are serious about taking control of and managing our emotions in a healthy way, then we first need to take responsibility for them.


We have to acknowledge that the WE ARE the real author of our feelings and the actions/reactions that they lead to.


Once we accept this fact, we can move on to the next step of understanding what it is that drives these emotional responses. I will tackle this concept in my next email...


For now, though let me leave you with a few questions to help you expand your self-awareness...

  • To what extent have you accepted full responsibility for your unhealthy emotional reactions?

  • What are those situations or relationships that tend to trigger unhealthy emotions in you more than others?

  • What is it about those situations that seem to really push your buttons?