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Thursday, April 25, 2013

Inner & Outer Rage

As I jokingly tell people all the time, "I hate people, which is why I work in HR".  Emphasis on the word "jokingly", because by and large I do like people, just in relatively small, measured doses.  Now given the fact that, for example, I co-taught a class yesterday on customer focus, most people who know me professionally think I am some kind of flaming extrovert.  I have nothing against flaming extroverts (or flaming desserts for that matter), but it's not the "real" me.  The "real" me is exceptionally introverted.

They say you see the "real" you when you are under the most stress.  I disagree with that statement.  Rather, I think you see the "real" person when they are pressure, but not killer stress.  As a dyed in the wool introvert, put under extreme, killer stress I can morph into someone who can be almost cruel (see THIS citation, among others).  This manifests itself in being exceptionally direct, argumentative and assertive to the point of  being over-bearing.  As I said, the operative word that comes to mind is "cruel". Thankfully I've only been this way once over the past few years.  Granted my constant Walter Mitty-esque inner dialogue has probably wanted to strangle more than one person from time to time, but that's just the insular chatter that we all have, especially introverts.

When I think back to my one moment of true outburst over the past few years, I do regret the manner in which I expressed myself.  I don't regret what I said, for even enraged, my internal governor was still in place, and what I said at the moment was wholly accurate, even if the message came wrapped in a bow of sheer anger.  More than anything else though, I am truly thankful for having the ability to look back, think about the situation, understand both what I said and, thanks for some study in the area of personality type, how I said it.  I won't use the word "apology" in this one specific case, for the nature of the discussion (if you laughingly want to call it that...) was such that I genuinely don't believe that I said anything wrong.  This noted, I regret the manner in which I chose to express myself.

Thinking outside my own head, I've seen a few examples lately where differences in personality drive very different outcomes.  Whereby my inner rage is bottled up and put under pressure until it explodes, others just seem to "let it rip" at a slow and continuous pace.  It actually sounds like a better model, if you will, if it were not for the fact that there is almost always some collateral damage, someone having to receive this more constant stream of vitriol.  In cases of those who are truly mentally unhinged this can be dangerous, dangerous stuff.  While I feel bad for anyone with so much negativity in their life that it bursts from their inner seams, I feel worse for the loved ones of those who have to bear the brunt of these regular explosions.  We are not responsible for our thoughts, as our brains are far too complex to allow us prevent that errant idea from popping in from time to time.  We are, however, wholly and completely responsible for the conscious decisions we make in what and how we express to others.  We own that, and we also own the damage we cause when we fail to exercise reasonable self-control. 

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