Tuesday, August 16, 2022

Other People's Anger

I’m afraid of disputes and arguments. I’m going to guess most people would shy away from a tense confrontation, but probably not for the reason I do. In my eyes emotions are extreme. This means that there isn’t varying degrees of anger, happiness and hate. If someone is angry that means they want to kill the person they are angry with. I can’t see that someone can be partially angry and just want to have a stern word with whomever they’re mad with.

            Living like this is hard! Each and every day is a potential explosion in my eyes. If I see two people angry with each other I instantly think that I’m about to witness a 21st century rendition of the showdown at the OK Corral. Is this normal?

            I’ve felt this way as far back as I can remember. In school I tried to be as bland as possible to avoid any chance that I would make another person mad. At this point in time though I don’t think it was going to involve guns, knives, and perhaps a pipe bomb. At the early school age though I was worried about fists, kicks, and yelling which, for someone in 1st grade, is just as scary as guns.

            Looking back I wonder if this extreme misinterpretation of other people’s emotions was one of the leading causes of my unusually high anxiety level. Each day was like crossing a barely frozen pond just waiting to hear the crackle of the ice that’s about to break. For that person crossing the pond the stakes are life or death. I saw it this same way for me.

            To witness an argument, regardless of what age I am talking about, is very traumatic. My fears jump to the worst case and I prepare for an all out brawl. All this thought and all this fear is just downright tiresome! I have yet to see the all out brawl occur, but I am 100% confident it will happen each time I see an argument.

            The underlying problem is a complete lack of the knowledge that emotions are level based. For me, screaming equals the desire to kill; therefore if I see two people yelling at each other they both want to kill each other. I don’t experience this because I realize within myself there are levels and I try not to allow myself the option of ever being mad or angry at another because that in turn will make them want to kill me. I know I’m using extreme words, but that’s how it is. Every person is a stick of dynamite with a quarter second of fuse left.

             I don’t know where this view of the world came from. I haven’t seen the extreme case happen in person… yet. Could this simply be that because I am unable to sense any emotion from someone I have to go with something that is on/off? I can’t judge the depth of anger so I must assume it’s the deep end. Whereas the person who is mad may be a depth of 2ft out of 10ft I see all anger as either none, or 10ft. Perhaps this is so.

            What gets me though is that even though I have yet to see a situation go nuclear, I still think each case will. This is what made me a good race director because when anyone was mad with my call I did everything in my power to convey a sense of calmness because, even though I have no intention of the extreme option, I assume everyone has that same extreme sense of other people’s emotions. This means if I show anger the other person will think I want to seriously harm them. Because of that I always stayed super calm and had an understanding fa├žade even though I was waiting for that 9mm to rear its ugly head.

            As I think about this I believe this concept if more than just a misunderstanding of anger. If I am to show any interest, like, or dislike on any given item then that means whomever hears or see this will assume that I am 100% committed to it, in love with, or complete hate with it. Since I see other people in an all or nothing fashion I believe that they do this to me; therefore I have to avoid any emotion whatsoever to avoid a misunderstanding.

            I simply wanted to state the fact that I don’t see other people’s anger in levels as it could be lukewarm, mild, extreme, boiling, and full of uncontrollable rage. From that attempt to state that I think I’ve uncovered why I try to be blank in public. Any emotion equates to full emotion and full emotions are usually bad therefore I must not be bad. Wow, impressive! Um, well, I guess this isn’t bad (must not show emotion, must not show emotion, dang, too late!) 

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