Don’t Get Angry or Sad, Get Useful


In response to Steve’s thought on “don’t get angry or sad get useful”.

>Yeah instead of allowing uncertainty and >ambiguity to turn into anger or sadness –
>we can instead focus that energy into >something useful.

>Coz I guess there is still going to be uncertain >regardless if we get angry or sad.
>Whereas usefulness can help us prepare for >uncertainty over the longer term
>and more generally.

I think anger or sadness occurs not because of uncertainty or ambiguity but because of our own certainty. We want a certain outcome. The anger or sadness we display is either to get that outcome (by hook or by crook) or to get instruction on how we can go about expressing our discomfort so that we can get even more help.

If we attract obsequious behaviour  (brown nosing) from people then we are likely to get the “hook or by crook” outcome. But if we attract people that are willing to speak their mind, then they are likely to encourage us to be more constructive in our expression of our discomfort.

Either way our anger or sadness is dissipated to lesser or greater degrees by such behaviours and we move on.

One way off this merry-go-round is to simply understand this process and reduce our own certainty. Next time we feel a tad of anger or sadness, check out what certainty we are displaying and just moderate it by remembering that we could be wrong and calmly seek feedback from the perceived cause of this discomfort.

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3 Responses to Don’t Get Angry or Sad, Get Useful

  1. Yeah I agree in that our desire to eliminate the uncertainty (because we want certainty) that we sometime try leverage anger or sadness to get our way. But I think its our minds playing tricks on us because if the sadness or anger achieved compliance from someone else, there is still uncertainly and compliance is likely only short term and perhaps comes with the side effect of resentment from the person who acquiesced.

    Maybe if we could just embrace uncertainty as inevitable and normal part of life – we´d have fewer episodes of sadness and anger.

    Reading The Charisma Myth at the moment – which I recommend, and the point is made by David Rock that “The threat response (fight-or-flight) impairs analytic thinking, creative insight, and problem solving”. I´d say anger and sadness fit into threat response.

    The author Olivia Fox Cabane goes no to say that; “In today’s world, few situations merit a fight-or-flight response. In these cases, our instinctive reactions actually work against us”. Which i think is consistent with you point you make above.

    • I got the book out from the library, I hope it is not like that other book “how to win friends & suck up peoples arse” !

      • GoofyFoot says:

        Yeah actually as I get into it 1/3rd – it is a bit like that.

        I can understand why these authors speak in such absolute terms ie. ‘it will work’ – coz people often want to buy something that’s like a sure thing!

        But in a way I think such an approach is a little bit like the energy drink industry; drink up and you ‘will’ get an energy hit – albeit a short lived one that’s designed to trick you brain. i think as opposed to ‘meat & potatoes’ ie. doing the hard yards over many years practicing being accountable etc within relationships.

        But then again – maybe I’m just jealous that I’m not a best selling author.

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