April 16, 2010 at 12:58 pm , by Julie Bain
One of our favorite writers, Holly Robinson, and I appeared together on the Today Show this morning to talk about being polite when you really feel mad. (That’s us, right, pretending to fight in the Green Room at 30 Rock.) You can see our conversation with Hoda and Kathie Lee here.
Have you been in a situation recently where you felt your anger going out of control? It might have been in a slow line at the grocery store, or in a restaurant, or even behind the wheel after someone cut you off—you know that feeling of blind, roaring rage?
After a series of stressful encounters with rude, impatient people one day, Robinson snapped at a slow waitress. But then she felt terrible when she saw and heard the waitress stomp back into the kitchen and take out her anger on the cook. That made Robinson stop and remember her British grandmother, who always reminded her that “you catch more flies with honey than with vinegar.”
So she decided to try an experiment for the next week: No matter what happened, she would be polite and disarm with charm instead of blowing her top. The result was a revelation: People weren’t just more polite in return, but Robinson felt better—and much less stressed. For her, the key was acknowledging and appreciating the people around her, and understanding that the people she encountered had stresses of their own and were doing the best they could. (Read about the health dangers of too much anger after the jump.)
“The point of good manners isn’t about acting better than someone else,” Robinson says. “Being polite is all about making other people feel comfortable. And the really surprising thing is that you start to feel cooler and calmer, too, because you can put stressful events in perspective and work together with other people instead of against them.” You can read Holly’s article, “The Politeness Project,” online or in the April issue of LHJ.
It can be intimidating to be on TV with celebs (that’s us, left, being super-polite in the Today Show Green Room), but what transformed the experience for Robinson was when, during a commercial break, Kathie Lee reached over and adjusted the collar of Robinson’s sweater. “That, to me, is a sign of someone who really understands the power of politeness under stress,” she says.
Health Dangers of Uncontrolled Anger
Expressing anger in a controlled way is important and healthy. But uncontrolled and chronic rage and hostility can:
• send your blood pressure skyrocketing while it’s happening, and increase your blood pressure even a week later when you remember the incident
• increase your risk of heart disease—and can lead to arrhythmias, cardiac arrest and even sudden death
• raise your level of C-reactive protein, a marker of chronic inflammation that’s linked to heart disease and stroke
• affect what people think of you. People accept and even reward men who get angry but view women who lose their temper as incompetent
• impair your immune system so you get sick more often. Also, wounds heal much more slowly in angry and hostile people
• may lead to weight gain (overeating is an unhealthy way to deal with out-of-control emotions) and type 2 diabetes
• affect your lung power and make asthma worse
Exercise is a great anger-control technique. So is the old “counting to 10” idea. Give it a minute and the rage may dissipate. Stress reduction techniques such as yoga, deep breathing or meditation can help, too. How do you control your anger?
One Response to “Let Go of Your Anger!”