Interruption Rage: The Kind of Rage No One Has Talked About

People who fly into a rage always make a bad landing. ~ Will Rogers

See the tiny toddler going to explore the dog in the neighbor’s yard? Now listen to what she might have heard – best case – “Get back here young lady.” Worse case from the very anxious or perhaps exhausted parent, “Don’t you ever leave this yard, or you’ll get a spanking.” I can’t believe spanking still happens, but that’s another blog post.

Toddlers to teens to adults, trying to go forward, trying to get somewhere, testing limits and boundaries all thwarted in time and space by well-intentioned adults. Even the police officer who pulls us over for speeding to our destination is good intentioned most of the time.

I call it “Interruption Rage.” It takes many forms: you’re in a hurry and the person in front of you at the grocery store says, “I forgot something.” Interruption. You’re dancing with your sweetheart and someone cuts in – interruption. You’re finally going on the much-needed vacation and the flight has been cancelled or the ship is held at port for a germy interruption. Or perhaps you’re speaking at a lecture, having a heart-to-heart, come to Jesus talk, and the would-be listener interrupts – you explode – “Stop interrupting me, damn-it!” or you just shut down.

These small and large interruptions are stored in our bodies and fester there sometimes for decades.

We as children or teens could not safely express the momentary anger at those who guard the gates, monitor the hallways, shuts the doors on our momentum going forward literally or figuratively. So, we return to our cribs crying or we fantasize our cars have machine guns mounted on the hood so we can use them to get the guy who cuts us off on the interstate. Thus, the mild-mannered, never-in-trouble accountant heading home at 5:15 on a Friday after staring non-stop at columns of numbers gets cut off one too many times. They floor their Prius, drive like crazy, cutting others off to catch up to the surrogate, over-anxious parent, teacher, partner. The disproportionally pissed-off accountant best case starts cursing and shooting the bird. Worse case gets the offender to pull over and one or both go to jail, and we call this Road Rage – my new term – Interruption Rage!

How about you? Been interrupted recently?

He piled upon the whale’s white hump the sum of all the general rage … and then, as if his chest had been a mortar, he burst his hot heart’s shell upon it.” ~ Herman Melville

 

The Flying Boy Letters: Getting Back to Y’all 30 Years Later

This is a most unique and comprehensive book, which is a culmination of thousands of hours of teaching, counseling, key noting clinical conferences on relationships, men’s issues, recovery, anger, regression, grief, and passivity. This small book is the “best of” 30 years.

I would be honored and appreciative of any support you may provide. Please buy it if you can, read it and post a review on Amazon; or recommend it to your friends, family, clients, and colleagues.

If you have a podcast, radio, or television program, I would like to do any and all interviews.

Thanks so much for over 3 decades of support!

JOHN

Order The Flying Boy Letters

Schedule sessions, or to bring JOHN  to your treatment facility, community group or place of worship or an interview, please contact me.

 

The Language of Animals

Animals are nothing but the forms of our virtues and vices, wandering before our eyes, the visible phantoms of our souls.

~ Victor Hugo

Men used to listen attentively to the messages of the animals; our lives, our souls, depended on it. The appearances and absences of certain animals at certain times were full of meaning and offered essential guidance. The hawk, raven, wolf, and bear all sent messages to men and spoke in a language we understood.

A part of us still understands that language. The animals still speak, showing up at interesting times, in “coincidental” ways. A husky a cousin to the wolf, might walk up to us just when we are in need of courage. A cat visits when we require patience. When peace is most precious, a dove flies overhead. The animals are speaking.

Today I’ll observe the animals to absorb their wisdom.

Excerpt from A Quiet Strength: Meditations On the Masculine Soul

Conflict

“In fact, the conflict itself is creative and perhaps should never be healed.”

~ Thomas Moore

Very often men seek to remove conflict. At times that’s the best move to make. But hoping for an end to all conflict is unrealistic. Conflict is natural; it’s part of living in community rather than isolation.

When conflict arises, I can take it as a great opportunity to practice my skills. I can explore, appreciate, and learn from each circumstance. If someone flirts with my wife, I get to practice handling my jealousy and anger. In a disagreement with a coworker, I can practice seeking a task in a new way. If my teenage son wants to dye his hair purple and put a ring in his nose, I get to practice tolerance and compromise.

No matter how disagreeable on the outside, every conflict has a delicious sweet at its core – a great teaching hidden in its middle. To pray that a conflict will disappear before it has done its work on me will only lead me further into darkness. To meet conflicts with an enthusiastic good nature, to work at each one until I discover its hidden teaching, is to live wisely and fully.

Today I accept the presence of conflict in my life. I have the choice to embrace conflicts, to learn from them, to use them to grow.

Excerpt from A Quiet Strength: Meditations on the Masculine Soul

The Perfection of Imperfection

Baseball … teaches that errors are part of the game.

~ Ernest Kurtz

Some of us, long ago, learned that anything less than perfection was failure. We learned this in our families, at school, from coaches. Some of us had “four A, one B” parents: we handed them our report card, they looked silently at the row of A’s, then saw the B and said, “What is this doing here?” Such parents pass on to their children the intolerance they got from their own parents. As adults they teach their children to be ashamed of anything less than perfection, even if their children are doing very well.

If our worst fear is to make an error, we can’t make any home runs either. When we feel our worth depends on perfection, we stop taking risks. But if we can’t risk failure, our days will be colorless and empty.

Inevitably our life’s journey will include stumbling over rough terrain. At these rough spots we discover our inner strength. Besides, without out “mistakes,” we’d be somewhere else – we’d be someone else! Today, we can try to accept all we’ve lived through. We can keep going, accepting the outcome, whether it matches our fantasies or not.

Today I’ll look back on my “mistakes” with new eyes. All that I’ve done in my life has helped me to arrive where I am right now.

Excerpt from A Quiet Strength: Meditations on the Masculine Soul

Seeking the Truth

If you tell the truth, you have infinite power supporting you; but if not, you have infinite power against you.

~ Charles Gordon

I’m a man who has told lies and lived lies and listened to the lies of other men. Lying is what I was taught to do. I was told that if it hurts, you put on a smile; if it cuts or bruises you, be a “big boy” and act like you’re okay. And if you fail – fake success.

Now I want and need to tell the truth about my hurt, my pain, and my disappointments, and I need contact with other men who are learning to do the same. I also want to learn the truth about a man’s special capacity for intimacy, joy, and serenity.

Nothing less than the truth will suffice at this point in my recovery. But I also don’t want to turn the truth into a battering ram. I may feel shame and regret for past untruths, but none of these mistakes is who I really am. Not one of them diminishes me as a man. If I begin to shame myself, I can raise a shield, saying, “Stop.” If others use the truth brutally against me, I can leave.

Today I honor, search for, and embrace the truth about myself and my masculinity.

Excerpt from A Quiet Strength: Meditations on the Masculine Soul

Self-Esteem

“A man falling in his own esteem needs more ground under his feet; to stand again he may need the whole world for a foothold.”

~ Wendell Berry

So many men try to live up to the expectations and visions of others (as our fathers did) by acquiring land and things, even by “collecting” people! We must finally come to the conclusion that we, in ourselves, are enough. All those who ever implied or said outright that we weren’t good enough were wrong. Until that moments of awareness arrives, we will continue to work and worry ourselves to an early grave.

Once we recognize ourselves at our full value as the priceless, irreplaceable men we are, we can begin to let go of our choke-hold on a world that can never confirm our manhood, our inner worth.

Today I’ll let go of one thing I’ve been using to measure my manhood, to validate my existence, to confirm my right to be here.

Excerpt from A Quiet Strength: Meditations on the Masculine Soul

Search for the Sword

Though much is taken, much abides;

… that which we are, we are,

One equal temper of heroic hearts,

Made weak by time and fate, but strong in will

To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield.

~ Alfred, Lord Tennyson

Most of us received no sword from our fathers. Instead we inherited an awkward club, or an attitude, or a wound. So, we say “yes” when we mean “no.” We pound our point into the ground, and we abuse others with our foul dispositions.

All the while we wish for a sword sharp enough to amputate our dysfunction, to cut through the crap daily life can dish out, to sever the umbilical cords that bind us to people and places in our history. We want a sword that gleams in the darkness, that lights our way, that shines for those less fortunate or those too small or weak to stop the abuse they’re receiving. We must find this sword and remove the dust it has collected. Then we must learn when to wield it and when to sheath it.

Today I’ll search for this sword. When I find it, I’ll keep it close to my briefcase, my pocket, my soul.

Excerpt from A Quiet Strength: Meditations on the Masculine Soul

Returning the Earth

“We have conquered the environment, and in our obsession for control, we no longer allow the environment to live in us.”

~ Valerie Andrews

Humankind has “tamed” the wilderness, bought and sold land for profit and loss. For too long we have mortgaged the earth and bankrupted its resources, pouring fumes into the skies and sludge into the oceans as if they were ours to destroy. Much more than rhetoric and legislation are needed to change this pattern of control and conquest over nature. I must begin a new inner relationship to my environment. Only then will the right action be clear to me.

I resolve to let the great trees live in me. I accept their strength and the wisdom of their years. I invite the land back into my legs and back and bones so that I might reclaim the rhythms of birth, death, and renewal. As I stand on the shore, I’ll feel the sea rushing into my gut. I’ll let my arms reach to embrace the painted sky. I’ll walk right through the mud! I’ll receive the meaning of those mountains at which I used to blankly stare, wondering who “owned” them. To be truly alive, I must relinquish my illusions. To truly survive, I must learn to receive the grace of this earth with gratitude, respect, and love.

Today I let go of the illusion of control, the dogma of dominion. I set my soul on automatic pilot, letting it soar through this world. Today I am touched and taught by the earth.

Excerpt from A Quiet Strength: Meditations on the Masculine Soul

Retrieving Dreams

Imagination is more important than knowledge.

~ Albert Einstein

If we believe that our dream life is at least as important as our waking life, what wonders might occur. Intuition is as real and dependable as anything that can be scientifically observed. We know from experience that we become what we imagine. We don’t just burst forth as we are, full-blown, without a clue. We may not be able to prove or quantify this knowledge, but we do possess it.

Men can make dreaming, hunches, and musings important again if we try. After all, we were pretty good at it when we were children. We haven’t lost the ability to wonder; we’ve just let it get rusty. Daily, we used to dream ourselves into giants, kings, unheard-of creatures, magicians, rock stars, astronauts. We always intuitively knew where the treasure was buried and exactly what steps we had to take to retrieve it. We have this knowledge still, if we will use it.

Today I’ll take time to dream. I’ll sail into waters filled with pirates and piranhas – intellect, logic, and reason. I’ll retrieve my dreams and present them as a gift to myself in the waking world.

Excerpt from A Quiet Strength: Meditations on the Masculine Soul