How do you handle yourself when you get steamed? Take this quiz to find out the good and bad sides of your anger expression patterns.
You’ve planned on this party for over a month. Everyone will be there and you are so excited. As you strut your way out the door, looking very fine in your new clothes, your mom calls out, “We have to be up early for your sister’s soccer game tomorrow. Be home by ten.” Do you:
- Spin around and yell, “What? Ten o’clock? Mom! I might as well not even go. I never get to have any fun!” I don’t even want to go to the dumb game. I hate this family!
- Mutter, “Not again. My life is going down the drain because of their retarded family policies.” But reply, “Yea, sure mom, the soccer game is way more important than this party. I’ve only been planning on it for a month. But fine.”
- Sigh and say, in a calm but exasperated voice, “Okay, but how about ten thirty?” Then you agree to her response without further argument.
You got slammed with a huge anatomy project to design and build a model human skeleton. You and your partner agree to meet after school to brainstorm. Your partner shows up ten minutes late and announces they made a commitment to get burgers with some friends in 15 minutes. Situations similar to this keep occurring, dumping the work on your already loaded shoulders. Do you:
- Corner them after class one day and shove the remainder of the project in their face demanding that they finish their part of the work.
- Every time they’re within earshot, talk loudly about how slackers drive you crazy and how you hate it when people screw around when they’re supposed to be working.
- Leave a message on their answering machine nicely reminding your partner to work on their part. You figure if they don’t do it, your teacher will give you a personal grade instead of a partnership grade.
You arrange to meet your buds at the theatre for a three o’clock show. After forty-five minutes without seeing any sign of life, you call your friend’s house to discover that they had left for the swimming pool over an hour ago. Do you:
- Storm home, slam the front door and scream at your family for all the injustices of your life and the inconsiderations they’ve inflicted upon you for the past 17 years.
- Sulk for the next two days and wait for someone to call you. When the phone finally rings you answer, “About time you called me.”
- Head for the pool to join them. Maybe they don’t want you around, but you don’t want to spend the afternoon alone.
You have agreed to babysit for your neighbor’s three year-old daughter. As the evening goes on, the little angel raises hell, refusing to do anything you say. Responding to every request with, “You’re not my mommy, I don’t have to.” Do you:
- Lose your temper and roar about what a brat the kid is and how when their mommy gets home you’ll make sure they never get out on good behaviour.
- Send the kid to their room, lock the door, raid the fridge, and swear to yourself never to have kids.
- Decide to ignore the kid while she terrorizes the house. You’re not paid enough to deal with her screaming tantrums. Besides, your favorite sit-com is on.
You let your friend borrow one of your CD’s. Two weeks later, you ask for it back and they tell you they’ll bring it tomorrow. A month later, when you finally get it back, the case is cracked and the CD has a major scratch down the middle. Do you:
- Throw the CD at them, ranting about respect for your things and finish the scene with, “See if I ever let you borrow my stuff again.”
- Call them later that day and ask them to replace YOUR CD that THEY ruined. Besides, friends are supposed to respect each other and their belongings. It’s about time they took responsibility for something.
- Put the CD in your bag, pretty upset but do nothing about it. Maybe they’ll offer to get you a new one, it would only be right.
If you answered mostly a, then you get angry and you’re not afraid to show it. Feelings aren’t meant to be bottled up. However, extreme displays of anger can be harmful to you and especially to the people around you. Next time you feel your blood boiling, take a sec to think about how your rash reaction will affect people. If you’re constantly yelling, it will turn people away from you and they probably will be less willing to show you their own emotions. If they have to fear for their life in regards to your response, people will close up around you.
Answering mostly b shows that you handle your anger with sarcasm and risk becoming bitter. You let your emotions flow and probably don’t deal with a whole lot of emotional tension. Although you don’t tend to scream or throw large objects, your expression of anger can still wound people. Consider what you say and how you say it. Then place yourself in the shoes of the person you’re angry with and imagine how your typical response would feel. Not only will your expression hurt others and close up your relationships (similar to above), but if bitterness develops it will eat away at you, tainting your view of people and life in general.
A scorecard full of c’s indicates a more passive response to anger. Your reactions are sensitive to others, whether you mean them to be or not. You need to be careful that pals don’t begin taking advantage of your mild manner. It’s okay to tell people why you’re frustrated or irritated. It may be hard at first but at least they’ll know you have boundaries that you will no tolerate to be crossed. Remember internalized emotions really take a toll on your body and pent up anger can lead to depression.