I recently published a post, Not Getting Angry Over The Little Things, about the death of my grandparents and my reflections on keeping life’s inconsequential irritants in perspective. Since then, I’ve been surprised at the number of times readers have come across the post through searchers such as “how to not get angry” and “how to not let little things bother you.” Of course, I’m always pleased when new readers find Figuring Out Fulfillment, but I’m a bit saddened that this was the topic that would lead them here. Or maybe the better perspective is to view such searches as positive – addressing an issue first requires its recognition. Anger is clearly an issue that many have recognized and are actively making an effort to address.
I could tell you to stop and take a few deep breaths when you get angry – to think of anger as a red balloon that drifts away as you release it, or to make a list of what you find irritating, so that you can revisit it later to see how quickly old irritants have been forgotten. Instead, I would like to discuss one of anger’s outcomes – apathy.
Increasingly, with the tight economy I’ve seen uncertainty breed fear, anger, and ultimately apathy until, finally, the haggard employee says, “Enough. I don’t have the energy for this anymore, I don’t care.” I’ve been there myself, working for a company that laid off workers to reduce operating costs and increase revenues, wondering if I would be among the next round to lose my job in January right after the holidays. I worked at another company where the CEO got up and walked out when the power went out – the bill unpaid.
Apathy is understandable, if only to protect ourselves – to disengage and begin the process of letting go. And it might very well be time to begin the process of letting go, to start looking for another job, or revisit the idea of graduate school. But whatever your next steps may be, to give the perception that you have let go before you’re ready to walk away comes with a risk – irrelevance. When the lay-offs begin, when the CEO walks out, these are the times your actions will be remembered above all else. More than once, I’ve seen a hopeless situation make an unexpected turn, with the victims of apathy left behind. Anger can be self-perpetuating, and allowing yourself to give way to your anger will likely only result in another injustice.