Anger’s Comfort Zone


I was on a long and emotional call with a friend who’d recently been verbally abused by his sibling in a moment of anger. We talked about the possible reasons and how they usually behave within and outside of family. All our observations led me to one big question – Are we willingly more rude to a family member than we are to a friend or a stranger?

I have always tolerated irritating behavior from a stranger and I always told myself it is due to the fear of appearing harsh or wanting to avoid a public scene. But what I never noticed – I am perfectly capable of creating a scene and saying harsh things to a family member at that same place, for the same reason. But why?

I turned to my facebook page to see what others believe is the reason and they came up with interesting reasons:

  • “Because we don’t feel the need to please our family.”
  • “We’re comfortable with our loved ones and it’s okay for our emotions to show.”
  • “Your family will not judge you for your anger.”

And finally, the answer that really made me think – “We know what our family members’ limits are and how they’ll react, wherein a stranger’s reaction to your rudeness might be more aggressive than you would expect.”

Does knowing one’s limits make it right to mistreat them?

Just because someone isn’t saying “Stop” does not mean it isn’t hurting them. And honestly, at times, we can cross the limit and not know it at all. What then?

Someone said, “But after the fight, I apologized. So it’s totally fine.” Is it?

“An apology means nothing if you don’t stop doing what you’re apologizing for.”

An apology does not take away how you made someone feel at that moment. It doesn’t take away the potential damage you could cause to a relationship. An apology, to a person who was emotionally pained with words, is only a temporary bandage. The scar will always remain.

I’m 24. I remember the hurtful words my mother said to me when I was 9. She apologized. I forgave her. But I can’t forget. Not even if I tried. Because people forget the good things you do. But the knives you struck in their hearts in the form of words, it sticks with them forever.

Anger you see on the news always begins from a place of comfort. When you think one person takes it, it grows.

So stop. Evaluate a situation before throwing a tantrum or screaming at your loved ones. Always put yourself in their shoes.

Just because they’re family doesn’t mean they don’t have emotions. Just because they’re not arguing does not mean they’re not hurting.

Watch your language. Breathe to 10 before you speak. Sure, we’ll all have our moments. But ask yourself, “Is this situation worth a lifetime of negative memories?”

It’s not good karma to help a stranger you see on the bus after you’ve yelled at someone at home. It’s only your day that gets better when you say, “Sorry.” Their day is ruined for good.

Remember – It’s not blood that binds a human to another. It’s the way you treat each other.

Be kind.

Especially to the ones who’ll forgive you when you’re not.

11 thoughts on “Anger’s Comfort Zone

  1. TheOriginalPhoenix says:

    This is a very important post and it’s definitely true that we tend to be filter ourselves less around our family members because we think it’s okay. It’s not okay. Being yelled at frightens me to the point that I can’t breathe. I agree with you that we should be aware of others’ needs, regardless of who they are. I love your conclusion of how we aren’t tied by blood but how we treat each other. Very well said.

  2. mitadaur says:

    Nice post Poornima. A thought provoking one indeed. The way I see it is that, when we step out of our home, we wear a mask. That mask of being nice to the boss, the subordinates, the clients, our friends. By the time, we reach home, we are almost so ready to remove that mask and show our real face and vent out all that happened throughout the day.

    The thing is we absolutely hate it, when the same anger is directed towards us. Maybe we take the closed ones for granted?

  3. Jess Wen says:

    This post really struck home with me. I have a little brother who used to be the sweetest person on earth; I didn’t treat him as a good big sister because I kept projecting my own insecurities and expectations onto him. Now I am doing everything I can to try and make it up to him, but I fear that it may be too late.

  4. macygan says:

    There’s 2 things that come up reading this:
    1) we feel anger, frustrated, etc but we have lost the ability or were never taught how to deal with those emotions. People don’t know how to release their pain and then it blows out onto others like shrapnel from an explosion.
    2) we tend to feel safer with family to be more our true selves instead of strangers. But as family we have to remember that no one should have their behaviour excused because they are “family”. Iyanla Vancant said it best when she said not to treat family like sacred cows. That we are all sitting in the classroom of life and their behaviours and unacceptable ways are not to be tolerated because they are family.
    I also consider that how others act is not about me. It’s about them. It makes me see them differently not ok with what they say or do at times but just ok that they have emotions they can’t control and not everything has to be so personal towards me. But if is, then I have to make a choice to protect myself even if it’s family.
    Thanks for the post.

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