What boils your water? Is there something that sets your teeth on edge? Do you know what’s going to make you see red? Will you be vexed or incandescent?
I’d love to be able to take a deep, calming breath and let it go – fury, rage or temper. All gone. It only gives me indigestion. However, like most people, I can’t. I get hot under the collar at all sorts of things and irate or indignant at others.
Of course, it’s just another part of the human condition, like flatulence or ingrowing toenails and, therefore, must be borne with equanimity, mustn’t it?
Not bloody likely. Let’s rage, rage against the queueing at the lights … or something. A sort of primal defence system kicks in when we’re under attack, or when we get that funny look … again, or when that man over there makes that noise with his teeth.
And then the penny drops. I think I understand what it’s all about.
The tantrums and the sulks. They’re It’s about the rules. We all have an internal set of rules and when someone breaks one, that’s when Mr Angry comes to call.
Some of the rules are the ‘don’t run in the corridors’ ones that help keep us safe. Like you mustn’t take me by surprise, you can’t help yourself my stuff without asking, never attack the people I love… that kind of thing. It’s easy to see what happens when there’s a violation – there’s a huge thunderclap and some heavy-duty crossness takes place. And the problem may well find itself solved.
However, a great many of the rules don’t appear to make much sense at all. For example:
- If he loves me, he’ll know exactly what I want to eat/watch/listen to
- No one should ever give me a funny look
- Strange noises are forbidden
- Never jostle me
- That shade of purple is all wrong
- Not that shirt with those trousers
- No one tailgates me
- If she loved me she’d know how badly that meeting went just by looking
- If he cared he’d understand that I’m too hot in this dress
- To err is human, except when your spouse does it