Control and Anger – Part II

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.

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 not met.
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.
 Written By: Steven Griggs, Ph.D.
Initially posted on 6/04/2010

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *