Have you ever been consumed by volcanic anger? …Or worse yet been an unsuspecting victim?
During our recent vacation we toured the ruins of Pompeii, and looked across the bay at the seemingly peaceful Vesuvius, the volcano that was responsible for the destruction that entire city. As peaceful as Vesuvius appeared, we were reminded that it is still a living volcano that could erupt again at anytime.
People can be just like that volcano….
Several years ago my husband and I were sitting in church, and an announcement was made that a new study was being offered on the topic of anger. My husband poked my ribs and asked if we needed to take that class. (…As his short “Irish Fuse” had often been a joke in our home.)
His jab made me laugh and I was thrilled about the opportunity to attend, mostly because we were new to the area and it was a great way to get to know people.
Before long, I begin to realize that although I don’t have a drop of Irish blood in me, and usually have a rather long fuse… I needed that class more than he did!
I discovered that I was an expert at letting little irritations build up over time. (Incorrectly assuming that by not speaking up, I was being a peacemaker, when in reality I was being a peace-FAKER.) And as I allowed those little irritations build up, they would eventually blow. Holy cow – could I blow!
When I erupted, people around me were usually SHOCKED, and wondered what just happened. My behavior would sometimes alienate them because they didn’t know what body snatcher just replaced the Chery they thought they knew with the two- headed monster standing in front of them.
The class gave me a lot to consider:
- Did I have the right to be angry with others if I’d never told them what my boundaries were or asked them to respect those boundaries?
- Did I have the right to brew inside until I blew, if I’d never tried to talk about something that was bothering me?
- If I really cared about other people and the relationships we shared, wasn’t authenticity important? What if by sharing my struggle and listening to their perspective our relationship become stronger?
- What’s really more damaging to a relationship… Sharing a struggle when it is small or trying to repair a relationship after I’d blow up all over it?
After our vacation I visited with a friend that shared a story about someone she loves that is struggling with some painful situations that are eating him up inside.
I asked if that friend has ever shared his pain with the people that are hurting him. He hasn’t.
So I shared my volcano stories. …Immediately she related and described a recent experience where she erupted over a situation that had been building for nearly a decade – and the fallout that occurred.
Pressure grows inside all of us when:
- We assume the worst.
- We dwell on those assumptions and feed them new “evidence” frequently.
- Our dwelling turns into obsessing, and obsessing turns into a negativity that saps all joy
- And then one day, one little thing causes our volcano to blow and consume anyone in its path. ‘
The big difference between a real volcano and people is that we have a choice. We can choose to prevent volcanic activity or to fuel it.
- It takes courage to speak up when we hurt.
- It takes commitment to a relationship to invest in the things that are uncomfortable.
- It takes wisdom to speak up before the volcano blows.
- It take confidence and maturity to listen to the response and to be willing to look at our own behavior in the same way we ask others to look at theirs.
Speaking up decreases the possibility of eruptions. (Which can help to build trust and strengthen a relationship.)
Yes – There is always the risk that a relationship will end. But if it does – it would have eventually anyway. …And this way there is less destruction to both lives. There is also the possiblity that the relationship will be strengthened.
Is there a situation in your life that is eating at you?
Are you naturally a peacemaker, a peace-faker or a peace breaker?
Is the relationship important enough to take the risk?
Related posts: I Dare YOU: To be The Change You Want To See