Control And Anger--Part II
This is the second of a series of articles on
control and anger. Please read the previous article
(Part I) before reading this one. To continue with the
discussion of wants vs. needs...
I can control all of these factors, but I will become
angry or less angry, or have other negative emotions in
greater or lesser amounts when these expectations are not
met, depending upon my conscious understanding of the
subtleties of my expectations. In this case the need has
a shorter cycle than the want, hence is more imperative.
Fortunately, expectations can better be understood when we
think of them as being either want based, or need based.
In short, they and our reactions to them can be modified
when you understand these critical aspects. Doing this
neutralizes the impact of an unmet expectation. Doing
this puts me firmly in control of my emotional reactions.
Here’s a different scenario; one that’s a little
trickier. Suppose you come to my office for a visit.
I tell you that the next time you come, I’ll give you three
dollars. A week goes by and you think about getting three
dollars. You probably think, “What do I have to do to get
three dollars?” or “What’s he up to?” These are all
expectations at work, but in this case, they are irrelevant,
because when the day arrives and you come back to my office,
I give you three dollars, as promised. You feel happy
because you got the money “as expected.” Because of the
small amount of money, probably this was more of a want,
not a need. You might be suspicious because most people
don’t give away three dollars, but nonetheless, you have at
least some contentment because the expectation was gratified.
Now suppose that when you came to my office expecting
three dollars, instead, I gave you five dollars. Now, not
only are your wants (expectations) met, but they were
exceeded. You might be even happier than you expected had
you just received three dollars. Let’s go the other way.
Suppose, instead of giving you either three or even five
dollars, I only gave you one dollar. You would be
disappointed and a little bit something else (sad, angry,
hurt, anxious, suspicious) because your expectations were
But wait a minute. You still got a dollar for doing
nothing other than showing up. When compared to getting
three dollars, one dollar is paltry and not as rewarding,
even potentially frustrating. But when compared to getting
nothing, one dollar is pretty good. In sum, had you thought
to suspend or to have no expectations, five dollars would have
been really good, three dollars would have been good, one
dollar would have been sort of good, but no dollar still
would have been OK. The major differences in your reactions
have to do with how you set up the expectations. Think things
through before reacting. The next article is on "attachment"
and its relationships to expectations and anger.