The other day, a woman flipped me off in the parking lot of Ralph's. I wanted to take a moment to thank her, for being such a bitch. The world is in a bitch-deficit right now and people like her are really picking up the slack for the rest of us, who are too damn busy to dramatically display our pent-up anger through the windows of our very-nice vehicles.
Here’s the deal. Someone was backing out of a parking spot, so I stopped, activated my turn signal, and waited for them to vacate the spot, which I would then presumably occupy. However, as I was pulling into the space, a very blonde woman in a very large SUV swooped around the corner, gunning for the space (which I was already half in) and had to brake very hard, which must have been quite jarring for her recently botoxed nose. Then, she yelled, “SO RUDE” out of her window, flipped me a very manicured bird, and parked 4 spots over. If I had cut her off in any way, or not activated my blinker, I could understand her annoyance, although annoyance isn't a great excuse to lash out randomly at strangers.
If someone cuts me off in traffic, I curse under my breath as my blood pressure slowly increases like a normal, pure-blooded, emotion-repressing American. This woman wasn’t handicapped, or elderly, or pregnant, or in any way in need of a spot 4 steps closer to the automatic sliding doors of the food depository. She just wanted my spot, which happened to be a very amazing place to park-so amazing that I sat in my car enjoying my moment of victory for a while.
Maybe, I reasoned, she'd had a bad day, or maybe she was just chronically angry.
Dr. Temma Ehrenfeld writes that anger stems from a variety of places, but that "anger is hiding a hurt." Below are some common reasons someone might become unnecessarily enraged.
1. Self-protection: people who are insecure but don't want you to know about it protect their egos by showing anger, which to them, is more acceptable than showing vulnerability.
2. Passivity: those who have a hard time sticking up for themselves will manifest almost any emotion as anger. Simply saying what they want or how they feel is dangerous territory, and they do not have the tools to cope with vulnerability in a healthy manner.
3. Avoidance: for example, some new couples fight because one or both are afraid of becoming too close. When we avoid our real emotions and someone has the wherewithal to point them out, anger often ensues.
4. Self-Consciousness: those who are socially anxious or have little self-esteem may pick fights because they worry that other's don't like them or are judging them. This is doubly damning because, as you can imagine, confrontational people are less likable. They end up manifesting the very thing they are scared of most.
5. Grief: anger can easily mask grief. Those who experience loss or feel otherwise helpless may turn to anger as an easier, more accessible, and sometimes more acceptable method of showing their emotions.
All of these scenarios point back to Ehrenfeld's original statement, "their anger is hiding a hurt." The difficult task is to uncover and confront the original hurt, but that is easier said than done and would require an entire post of it's own.
Apparently, the woman in the black Range Rover was hiding a hurt, or feeling inadequate, or wronged, in some way. I would like to put forth a PSA, and it’s called, “Stop Ruining Your Life by Being Angry.” The way in which you don’t ruin-your-life-by-being-angry is to not flip people off in traffic, by not letting your blood pressure rise, by saying to yourself, “Look at that poor bloke, just trying to drive and being so bad at it. Must be really inconvenient to suck so badly at something.” And move on. Namaste, my people.