Getting on my soap box, again. But, sometimes, you just have to flesh out those thoughts in your head. Getting them out, before you lose them.
This morning, I caught my youngest in a lie. I knew she was lying, but I didn’t know how to prove it. I resorted to my tried and true tactics, but she wasn’t budging. “Not me”, was in the house. Finally, I had to put it to her plainly.
“I know you a lying. I know you did it. I just can’t prove it. So, until you confess….. ” and thus came my most brilliant of ideas. And about 30 seconds later, full confession.
I issued the consequence, explaining (as I have done with every one of my kids)…. “If you would have told me the truth, I would only have grounded you for one day. But, because you lied to me repeatedly, you are grounded for four days.”
And so the ensuing temper tantrum would begin. Huffing and puffing around the house. Not slamming things, but surely setting the down and closing drawers harder than one should.
I turned her to face me and said “Why are you angry with me? I didn’t lie to you. I gave you multiple chances to tell me the truth. You chose not to. It’s ok to be mad. But, who should you really be mad at?”
She looked at me, like a doe caught in headlights, speechless. I continued: “The only person you should be mad with, is yourself. You broke the rules in the first place. Then lied to cover your tracks. You are mad at me because you got caught. You should be mad at yourself for breaking the rules in the first place.”
She paused. Her attitude improved.
Then, as I drove her to school… the woman behind me began a tantrum when I stopped for the school bus, instead of trying to whip through as the stop sign was being slowly extended. Even if I had gone, there is no way she would have gotten through…without breaking the law. But there she was, in my rear view mirror, waving her arms and smacking her steering wheel, gesturing toward the bus. The bus retracted it’s sign, and I started to drive. The road is a 40mph zone, I was averaging about 43-45mph…all the while she was close enough that if I popped my hatch back it would hit her car. She followed closely like this, the entire length of my drive, gestures flying, Lord knows what she was saying. She was ANGRY.
Why? Why so angry with me? I was following the law when I stopped. I was actually going a little above the speed limit. I wasn’t going below.
From my own experience of frustrations when driving, I can take a pretty good guess as to why she was so upset. She was probably running late.
But was that my fault? Or the bus driver’s fault? Or any other driver she encounters fault? No. Yet she was spewing her venom towards me. If I am right, and she was late, then really who’s fault was it? Her own. Something happened that morning that prevented her from leaving early enough. Did she over sleep? Get distracted? Was she unprepared to walk out the door? Couldn’t find her paperwork, keys or sunglasses? It could be any number of reasons, but ultimately the fault lies with her.
If you think about all of those times you have gotten angry & even allowed your anger to spill out on others, how often was the situation actually THEIR fault?
My guess is probably fewer than we’d care to admit.
I was late, not because of the cars on the road, but because I misplaced my keys.
I didn’t turn in my assignment on time, not because the teacher didn’t give us enough time to finish, but because I wasn’t organized.
I wasn’t able to get my work done today, not because there was too much to do, but because I was distracted by personal phone calls.
My water got turned off, not because they are horrible people, but because I didn’t pay my bill on time.
My car was repossessed, not because the dealership is full of jerks who just want my money, but because I wasn’t budgeting.
My kids were late to school, not because they dragged their feet, but because I didn’t want to get out of bed until I HAD to.
I ended up in jail, not because the judge was unfair, but because I committed the crime & deserved the consequences.
I have to pay this speeding ticket, not because the cop is meeting a quota, but because I broke the law.
So many things that make us angry, when we look down deep… are really rooted in our decisions.
There are so many self help books, groups and movements about dealing with your anger. But, how many of them actually address WHY we are angry in the first place? Taking some personal responsibility for the choices we made, verses projecting our anger toward others will help us to diffuse that anger.
It is easier to be angry at someone else, and blame them for everything. It is harder to look at yourself in the mirror and say “this is your doing, how are you going to fix it?”
Do not be quickly provoked in your spirit, for anger resides in the lap of fools.