One of the main TV channels breakfast news shows (Good Morning Britain) has been leading with a story and analysis of parking issues round schools and safety issues surrounding it. Much of the discussion with guests on the sofa was about the anger and rage that is directed towards those that choose to confront and challenge those causing the issues.
I thought I would give a brief analysis of what’s going on with those that get angry when you try to talk to them about safety near to the school.
Crashing boundaries is a major trigger for anger but there is also boundary pushing going on here. Those that park on the zigzag lines and double yellow lines know they should not be doing it. They are not stupid. They are pushing boundaries. They think it won’t matter “just for a minute” and then next time its two minutes and so on.
Of course, this become a habit which in their mind becomes enshrined as a right and thus the person who chooses to challenge them will be met with comments such as “well I’ve been doing this for years” or “who are you to tell me what to do?”
Since it has become their “right” to park there the individual being challenged feels their boundaries are being challenged and they get angry.
It’s complicated being human!!
We all break the rules. Don’t lie. We all do it at some point it’s just we that justify it to ourselves and that makes it alright. Doesn’t it?
Those parking in a dangerous place or driving to fast know they are doing it. To have it drawn to their attention by someone else though is to invoke a feeling of embarrassment and shame. Shame based anger is one of the most
volatile triggers for rage, in my experience. This will be one of the reasons those confronted with their poor behaviour get angry because it is their best way of hiding the shame they feel. The best form of defence is attack.
I am not justifying their anger, rage and poor behaviour. I am just explaining it. In other words the anger and rage they aim at you is not really aimed at you, the person challenging them. It’s not personal. They are ashamed of being exposed in this way and can’t deal with it.
Fear is one of the greatest issues in anger. Anger is often used to cover up fear. Part of the reason why people park too close to schools is that they are scared. They are scared of being late for work or scared of their child being late for school. It’s fear, pure and simple. So when they are confronted with the issues they are already in a state of fear and someone talking to them about it just makes it worse. Yet another trigger for anger.
Finally let’s talk about choice.
This is something that comes into a lot of the work we do at Calm People. At every level we are all operating choice. We do not have “no choice.” That is not to acknowledge that we often have difficult choices or limited choices but we are making choices all the time. Those parking dangerously are choosing to do so. They are choosing to get up later and thus put pressure on themselves leading them to park dangerously. They choose to drive their children to school in the morning. They choose to have highly stressed jobs that buy them houses near that school.
We could all make fundamental life changes just by simply recognising that we are the architects of our own issues and that we have choice. It’s a tough message but it is true. To tell ourselves we have no choice is to try and get rid of our responsibility.
So next time we are angry with other people it’s worth reflecting and challenging ourselves. What choices have we made that have put us in this position?