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Can't Let Go of the Anger

©2011 by Lynette J. Hoy, NCC, LCPC  

Question: Basically one of those little things happen where somebody is rude or whatever, and I cannot it go, it bothers me forever. And in most cases, I've done nothing wrong, and I should just be able to go, "Wow, what a jerk," and move on. But I find myself replaying the situation over and over in my head, and I just want to yell at them.

Very rarely am I able to actually communicate with the person and tell them they hurt my feelings. Couple of examples, At the coffee place where I work, a regular came in, and my co-worker was on her break, but the regular was like, "Are you [her] going to make my drink?" And the girl was like, "No, I'm on my break." So I start making it, and the lady goes over to talk with my coworker and tells her, (she doesn't realize I can hear her) "I don't want her making it" ... To my coworker, in front of ANOTHER coworker, and in front of other customers. I am really good at what I do, and I can't think of any reason why she wouldn't want me to make it. Honestly, I've heard from almost every customer, that I'm a better barista than the girl she was talking to. I actually got the strength to say something to her the next time she came in.

Okay, check this out... her "problem" with me: She get's a smoothie. She get's whipped cream on top. We use home made whipped cream out of a seltzer dispenser. Sometimes, there's a lot of pressure in the container, and she got a drink on the first squirt of the container, so some of the whipped cream went to the bottom of her cup. She got all upset and said I was "cheating" her. I explained... told her that we used recipes, and that she got the amount she was supposed to... so that's what she had been holding onto. I'm just flabbergasted that a grown woman would not only be so petty, but would dispay the sort of catty behavior I expect from a girl in junior high school.

This was like two weeks ago and I can't let it go. I keep thinking of what smart thing I could say to her the next time she comes in. And today, I went to drop off an invoice at the new business I designed a logo for. It's right next to an art store. I bought my supplies there to do the logo, even though they have shit supplies at rediculous prices. The sales girl knows me. It's a duplex type business. So I asked if I could leave an envelope with her, with an invoice because the guy had left for lunch, and the floors had just been painted, so I couldn't go in and leave it. She was like, "No I don't think so hun, this an art supply store." I cannot describe in words how rudely and condesendingly she said it. Beyond that, this woman is a moron. I told her, "Um, well, it's literally a piece of paper with an amount written on it, it's nothing I'd care if you lost, but if that's the kind of neighbor you want to be, I'll remember that the next time I need art supplies." So then she's like, "Well January, I guess I could keep in under the register," I was so angry at the way she had talked to me, and in front of a bunch of people, that I told her never mind, because she's an idiot and would probably loose it and stormed out. I'm just like WTF? How dare you talk to me like that, and this is a small town. People do stuff like this all the time. She used to come into the print shop I worked, and I'd help her make stupid collages. It wasn't my job, and if I'd cut something wrong, she could (and probably would) have freaked out, but that's the kind of stuff you do in small towns. I just like want to be in a situation where she needs something from me and I can just remind her of this little incident.
It's really hard to interact with people and I just feel like these little "tiffs" are too hard. I can't get over them.

Answer: Dear Friend, thanks for posting. You wrote: "Basically one of those little things happen where somebody is rude or whatever, and I cannot it go, it bothers me forever. And in most cases, I've done nothing wrong, and I should just be able to go, "Wow, what a jerk," and move on. But I find myself replaying the situation over and over in my head, and I just want to yell at them. Very rarely am I able to actually communicate with the person and tell them they hurt my feelings..
"My advice is this: In your examples I believe you have a right to be angry. On the other hand, you are suffering mentally and emotionally since you can't let the situations go and become obsessed with hurt and anger for a long period of time. In our book: What's Good About Anger? we write about: "What Happens in the Process of Anger?" First there is a threat to self-- which is exacerbated by poor self-concept, negative self-evaluations, frustration, fear, disappointment and leads to anger. Paul Hauck explains the 6 levels of thought involved when one becomes angry
1. "I want something"
2. "I didn't get what I wanted and am frustrated"
3. "It is awful and terrible not to get what I want"
4. "You shouldn't frustrate me! I must have my way."
5. "You're bad for frustrating me."
6. "Bad people ought to be punished"

This thinking goes awry when one begins to catastrophize and think - it is awful and terrible to not get what I wanted, ie., respect, consideration, fairness, etc. Challenging your thinking is important. People are unfair. People can be disrespectful and disappointing. But, should their behavior cause you to be unhappy for days on end? Is it worth it to be so controlled by them that you can't function or experience peace in your life? Do these people have that much power over you? Does their opinion of you change your worth or significance?

Read and apply the thinking ahead skills posted on this page. Also, it's very important for you to build your self-worth and discover your purpose in life.
In order to prevent rumination about past hurfful events and decrease fear about future conflicts - you can learn to be assertive and prepare for future scenarios. Read about how to Assert Yourself!. By challenging and changing your thinking, growing in self-esteem and learning new communication skills - you will find more confidence to handle these people and situations.
At some point, you will need to forgive and let it go. The people may not change - but, you will be set free! God bless!

© copyright 2011 by Lynette J. Hoy, NCC, LCPC.Lynette is a Marriage and Family Counselor with CounselCare Connection and National Certified Counselor. She is the co-author of What's Good About Anger? and a speaker for community, women's and church organizations.


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