The danger in anger – 2

August 31, 2020
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This subject has become more pertinent in view of the altercation between Femi Fani-Kayode, a former Minister of Aviation and Eyo Charles, a Nigerian journalist with Daily Trust in Calabar, Cross River State that trended massively on the Nigerian social media space last week.

Perhaps tongue-in-cheek, the reporter had asked the former minister a question about who was bankrolling his “fact-finding” trips round some states in the country. On hearing the word “bankrolling”, the former Minister flew off the handle, reeled out – in very uncharitable language that reeked of megalomania – all manner of expletives and derogatory terms on the hapless journalist, threatening him and his job. Thereafter, he practically stormed out of the venue of the press conference, leaving the journalists at the event bewildered. Instead of apologizing for his unbecoming high-handed reaction to a question that obviously riled his nerves to no end, Mr. Fani-Kayode condescendingly tweeted that he had nothing to apologize for. A day or two later, when the groundswell of ripostes and public condemnation of his conduct saw him headed towards the path of ignominy as a supposed leader and public figure, he softened his stand and issued another release where he attempted to deconstruct the entire event to justify his outburst. Stopping short of an apology, he said he was withdrawing the word “stupid”. Trust Nigerians. Social media literally went aflame! A flurry of cartoons, skits, T-shirts, memes, and many other ribald depictions of Fani-Kayode’s outburst was everywhere in cyberspace. Another video of what appeared to have been a similar scenario that involved him in Zamfara State a few days earlier went viral as if to say, “Déjà vu!”

In a way reminiscent of the dog in Yoruba aphorism who became wise by hindsight, hiding the knife after it had been used to sever the dog’s ears, Fani-Kayode eventually issued a proper apology both to the journalist in question and to the general public, finally admitting that as a public figure, he overreached himself in his vitriolic outburst. Lesson hopefully learnt but at great cost; incalculable damage had been done and much social capital avoidably lost!

More than anything else, the entire episode gives a clear illustration of the manifestation of destructive anger. It is often triggered by our impatience, irritation, or resentment about the way we have been treated and which we construe as a frontal assault on our ego! It is not so much about what or who initiated the process of provocation as it is about our self-opinionated perceptions that burn our already short fuse when things don’t go our way or people don’t dance to the music we insist on playing. Very often, the consequences can be very devastating both to us and to everyone around us. While we may not be able to control what others do to us, it is our responsibility to control ourselves. In the words of the Bible, the man who is able to control his spirit – or emotions – is stronger than the one who overruns a city.

In one of the editions of Poor Richard’s Almanack, an annual journal published between 1732 and 1758 by Benjamin Franklin, he wrote, “Take this remark from Richard poor and lame; whate’er’s begun in anger ends in shame”

When our anger controls us, it reveals the worst of our personality. Unbridled anger reveals a dimension of our character to us and to others that we probably would have found difficult to believe about ourselves if anyone else had told us. It is the “Unknown known” quadrant in our Johari Window. Another name for it is “our blind spot”, that part of us that is largely hidden to us until something forces its manifestation, very often to our utter embarrassment! How long is your fuse? You cannot know until you are sorely provoked!

Uncontrolled anger is stupidity on steroids. To borrow the words of Will Rogers, “People who fly into a rage seldom make a good landing”! Very apt! Have you seen some people fly off the handle and in that moment of the naked fashion parade of an irritating ego, refuse to be pacified by anyone? In fact, it is as if the more they are pacified, the more they demonstrate their foolishness. More often than not, they merely pacified as a way of calling the stark raving mad man a bridegroom so that he can be calm and get out of the way to allow you accomplish your desired goal. Proverbs 14 tells us in verse 17 that a quick-tempered man acts foolishly.

In its unbridled form, anger can cause strife and division in a collective. I learnt from the scriptures that a hot-tempered person starts fights but a cool-tempered person stops them!

Very often, in a fit of anger, it is possible to say and do things that can cause irreparable damage to systems, teams and other dimensions of our relational dynamics. The ripple effects of such indiscretion may linger for ever. Long after you would have made the statement or done the deed, even after you may have made peace with the people directly concerned, the damage done may be around for a protracted period. As you continue losing your temper in the most uncharitable ways and places, you also heighten the risk of losing good friends who refuse to be slaves to your overbearing ego and so keep a wide berth in their relationship with you. In time, you also lose the respect of your family to the degree that your wife dreads, instead of respect you, and children heave a sigh of relief when you step out of the house and are eager to become independent of you as soon as age and life permit them! Nobody wants to do business with a rash, ill-mannered person whose mouth moves faster than his brain when he is angry. In time, you start feeling alienated and lonely. The more people put the ten-foot pole distance between you and them, the more isolated you become. The less people reach out to help you in time of need because no one wants to be on the receiving end of your indiscriminate acerbic outbursts. The more this happens, the more you are set on edge and the lonelier you become till you are ensconced in your delusionary world of being misunderstood by everyone as a way of justifying your misdemeanour.

The ultimate effect of that is that you also stand to lose your health. Several cases of high blood pressure, coronary diseases and heart attacks, perennial violent behaviour, needless tantrums, and even murders have been traced to unbridled anger.

As a leader, it is wise to recognize that you waste precious time and expend needless energy losing your temper at the least possible opportunity. Time will ultimately prove to you that people are more preoccupied with their own concerns than to start helping you look for it each time it is lost!

We all from time to time, will have cause to be provoked. That has never been the issue. The real issue is how we respond…continued

Remember, the sky is not your limit, God is!

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