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The Secret Anger at Work


For most of us, employment is essential. It pays the bills. It gives our lives structure. If we’re lucky, it allows us to explore and define who we are. But work has costs, as well – costs that are not outlined in the original job description. Stress. Insufficient pay. Troublesome co-workers, managers or customers. Not enough time off. Too much work. Not enough appreciation. No personal expression or fulfillment.

For some of us, doing our job means sacrificing something else, such as family time, sleep, health or recreation. Some of us accept low-pay/low-skill positions in the hope of moving up, but then get bypassed at promotion time.

Each of these costs contributes to our frustration. As we return to work day after day, week after week, and in many cases, year after year, that frustration can build up and eventually blow up into anger.

Perhaps we manage the anger for a while. But then our joking takes on the biting edge of sarcasm.

We start to show interest in rumors, and feed them with bits of negative talk. Maybe we indulge in some “I-deserve-it” theft – office supplies, for example – or spend time online when we should be meeting deadlines. When we’re angry, it’s easy to feel that these behaviors are justified by the ill treatment we’ve received.

For some, without a healthy outlet, without fully understanding what’s happening, job anger can escalate. It can turn into physical and emotional violence toward people at work and at home.

Whether our anger is just beginning to simmer or is already boiling over, it burns into our relationships, our contentment and our self-esteem. The longer we wait to deal with growing anger, the harder it will be and the more damage it will do.

Anger is a powerful signal that something in our life needs attention. With skilled and compassionate intervention, anger can be safely managed. We can learn to recognize our personal triggers before they cause trouble and we can learn effective and creative ways to harness our frustration before it gets the better of us.

For a free phone consult, call Dr. Fibus at 818.395.2831.

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