Anger – The Holiday Grinch. (AAR Spectrum)

Image Source:  iStock

Image Source: iStock


Everyone is familiar with the song, “Your a mean one Mr. Grinch.”  “Your a bad banana with a greasy black peel.” How may times do you think that you may of been called a Grinch during the Christmas and Holiday Season? And people “would not want to touch you with a 39 and a half inch pole.” I know that I have, and I have found that at times, Christmas is not a magical season, and is a source of Annoyance, Anger and even Rage (AAR).


Anger can be put on a spectrum of emotions starting with annoyance, that then leads to anger, and that can ultimately lead to rage. I am going to refer to this spectrum as the AAR spectrum in this post.  There are a lot of things that can put your mood on this spectrum, and that can cause you AAR (annoyance, anger or rage). There are a lot of websites, and blogs that deal with the topic of Anger. There are a lot of philosophies on how to cope with anger issues, etc. I was discussing this with a friend of mine yesterday and he shared something with me, and I am going to share it here. I am going to put this to the test over the Christmas and Holiday Season to see if I can make my Holiday a AAR free season.

I thank that everyone would agree that annoyance, anger and rage are unpleasant mental states.  These terms are also highly subjective terms.  Lets first start out by looking at what will put you on the AAR spectrum.

Basically, when you find yourself on the AAR spectrum, you were placed there because the event falls into one of these three categories.

  1. The event caused unmet expectations
  2. The event was perceived as unfair (Unfairness)
  3. The even was perceived as not just (Injustice)

These three perceived mindsets will lead you down the AAR spectrum.  They can start out by causing you annoyance, that then leads to anger, that may ultimately turn into rage.  For the record, I define rage a little differently than most people do.  To me, rage is not when you get so upset you start causing physical harm to someone, but rage is when you let the first two (annoyance, and anger) get so intense that you loose control.  It may not be physical control or mental control.  If rage hits, you will find yourself unable to function correctly.  Your mental ability will be diminished, and your capacity for violence will increase. I would say that if you need to leave the room to compose yourself, that you have hit the rage point.

First, unmet expectations.  Everyone has an expectation on every event that happens in their lives.  From the expectation to getting a good night sleep, to the expectation of what people will do at a traffic light.  If others actions or a situation, does not meet your expectation, then it can easily move you to and increase your AAR spectrum.  Most of the time, your expectations of an event can be unrealistic.  Your expectation may be that everyone obey traffic laws.  But in reality, that is not a very realistic expectation.  There will always be people that break laws and see them as suggestions not necessarily limiting rules.  A perfect example during the holiday season would be a family or company party.  If you find that the party does not meet your expectations, then it will be an annoyance to you, make you angry, or even lead to rage.

Second, unfairness.  Feeling like you have been treated unfairly will also put you on the AAR spectrum.  Everyone wants to be treated fairly, and everyone wants to have others use the Golden Rule as their measure for their actions.  Fairness is such a subjective term.  Fairness for someone living in a third world country would be totally different than fairness of someone living in America.  Do we really want a fair world?  If everything were to be fair, then everyone would also have to share in the evil or bad things of the world.  Fairness can never be completely achieved.  Most people think only of fairness when it comes to money and wealth.  But to be completely fair, you also would need to share equally in pain, and poverty.  Do you really think the world could be completely fair?  Do you really think that you want the world to be fair?  I am not saying that we should revel in the fact that people don’t have what we have, but we should also not hit the AAR spectrum because someone has more than we do.

Third, Injustice.  You can also hit the AAR spectrum when you feel like someone has done an injustice to you, someone else, or you are being treated unjustly.  Injustice can be defined as, “violation of right or of the rights of another.”  A perfect example of this is the recent riots in Ferguson.  People feel like an injustice has been committed.  The injustice was not to them, but they allowed themselves to be put on the AAR spectrum.  And in a lot of cases that lead to rage, and rioting.


Some of us will take Justice to the extend that one of the Founding Fathers did.  John Adams is quoted as saying, “Let justice be done though the heavens should fall.”

SOLUTION, so how do we keep ourselves off the AAR spectrum so we can enjoy the Christmas and Holiday Season?

For every situation, we put ourselves in a box.  The box we put ourselves in defines if an event puts us on the AAR spectrum, or if we find the event as acceptable and it gives us happiness and or joy.  That box defines if we move to the AAR spectrum or not.  If our expectations, view of fairness, and view of injustice does not fit into the box, then we allow ourselves to move down the AAR spectrum, and the farther away from that box reality is, the closer we move to rage.  The following illustrates what I am talking about.


This box represents events, people, experiences.  Anything in the blue box we see as acceptable, and does not put us on the AAR spectrum.  Anything in the grey box will put us on the AAR spectrum, and the farther away from the blue box, the greater the AAR value, and the greater the AAR value, the closer to rage we come.

There are two ways we can fix events that put us on the AAR spectrum.  First, we can try to move or eliminate events that don’t fit into the blue box.  This would be impossible to do.  We would have to modify the thinking, and actions of everyone so that all events fit neatly into our box of acceptable expectations, fairness, and justice.  I propose that trying to do that will actually make your box smaller and make more things put you on the AAR spectrum, making more things leading you to rage.

The second way, is to expand our box.  Move our box so that more events meet our expectations, our view of fairness, as well as our view of justice.


The blue box will NEVER completely fill the grey box.  There will always be things that don’t meet your expectations, view of fairness, and view of justice.  But the bigger you allow your box to expand, the fewer items will put you on the AAR spectrum, and the harder it will be to push you to the point of rage.  Life will always throw things at you that don’t fit into your box of accepted events.  But the way you handle them all depends on you.  When something puts you on the spectrum, you need to analyze it and find out why it put you on the AAR spectrum.  Then you need to either accept that it is not in the blue box, but that is OK and move on, or you need to expand your blue box to include the event.

I am not implying that it is an easy thing to do.  It is difficult to analyze your emotions and figure out what the cause of the emotion is.  But as you do that, and start expanding and moving your box around, you will find that life is better and happiness is achievable.

As a father of 9, I have watched a lot of PBS Kids.  There is a character called Daniel Tiger (based on the world of Mr. Rogers Neighborhood.)  Daniel has a song that basically says, “When you feel so mad you want to ROAR, take a deep breath and count to four.”   This is very good advice.  But while you are doing your counting cool down, you need to do a little retrospection.  Look at the situation that put you on the AAR spectrum and see which of the three causes put you there.  Then you can change your expectations of the situation and move yourself off the AAR spectrum.  You can expand your box and move from a situation where you want to ROAR to a situation where you are having a good time and enjoying yourself.

I truly have some very wise friends, and I think my friend for sharing this insight with me.  I hope this will help you have a Merrier Christmas and Holiday Season.


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