The Transfer Of Negative Emotions
By Amandla Karungi
I finally understand it, the thing about misplaced anger. Sometimes you want to give someone a verbal thrashing but because you still have to work with them for possibly a long time, or maybe in the spirit of humility, you decide to inhale this person’s persistent annoyances or outright overstepping.
A few minutes after holding your tongue tightly, you walk into the bank and let it out on the teller when she refuses to work on your transaction because there is a fault in the system which she admits is the bank’s problem but insists that it cannot be solved now.
This was me on a hot Wednesday evening when the woman behind the glass and I went back and forth in an argument about whether I could transact or not. The supervisor and employee of the month (going by the notice board) came to see what was going on. I began to explain to her and while I did, the teller kept on mumbling behind the mirror until she finally cut in to say flatly, “There is nothing I can do for you.”
That’s when I turned to her and uncharacteristically shouted, “I’m not talking to you!”
The supervisor, sensing a hostile environment about to turn more hostile, told me to take a seat at one of the bank officer’s desks as they tried to sort out the issue and assured me that I would get my transaction completed that evening.
I tend to fire up quickly and calm down just as soon. So as I waited, I had already simmered down and the episode of the past few minutes was re-playing in my head. I had enough time to think because I sat there for the next one hour.
Sometimes you repress your emotions and they pour out unexpectedly as a delayed reaction, even when you believe you have forgotten all about whatever happened. There is this theory about domestic violence that one of my primary school teachers once told our class about. It was about the cycle of psychological and physical beatings. He said that some men beat their wives because their bosses [psychologically] beat them at work, and then the wives beat the children because the children are the only punching bag left.
On children especially, this has a tremendous impact because these transferred negative emotions can make them depressed adults, violent men (or women) and/or substance abusers, chained to a beer bottle (or something more addictive) every evening.
When you come to think of it though, how you deal with anger is probably more important than how you deal with happiness. Dealing with happiness is easy, for most people. Happiness is easier to deal with because it involves your better side, the flowery side, the acceptable, lovable side. But how do you deal with anger when you are morphing into The Hulk? A completely unrecognisable raging green monster?
Wouldn’t it be nice to always lose your head in a dignified manner? For example; in my situation, I would turn sweetly to the teller and say, “Okay, my plan for this evening was to get this done and you are in the way of that. Someone is pressuring me on the phone about whether the money has come through yet. I’m tired because I have already been in this very long bank line twice today and I just want to go home.”
And then she would stare at me stubbornly and reply, “I still can’t help you.”
Sometimes, but not always, in the aftermath of a big blow up, I wonder if I am right to get angry. My conclusion is that as much as being calm, or being “Zen”, is the best way to protect your soul and blood pressure, getting angry is a natural reaction. Being angry and then worrying about whether someone else approves of it later on hinders that natural reaction. You try to lose your cool in a good way so that some invisible critic will nod their invisible head and say, “You did it right.”
Now that is frustrating. I think I have to just let myself be; if angry, be. If happy, be. But I also have to take care of my reactions because in adulthood, you are responsible (and can also be liable in a court of law) for everything that you do.