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Tuesday, 3 March 2015

The path of devastation; be it fire or anger

At the moment, here in Cape Town, there is an incredible fire raging through the Cape Peninsula mountain range. It seems to be unstoppable and just when one thinks it has died down in one area it seems to reappear. It has taken many firefighters (300) to try to control the fire over the last three days – and with difficulty. They have been brave. Some say that it might continue burning for the rest of the week. There is an unpredictable quality about bush fire; it rages, it is fearsome, it keeps on burning whatever is in its way. So it is devastatingly dangerous to humans and animals. On the other-hand the bush fire is necessary for the germination of the new seeds of the vynbos but controlled fire burning, over time, is what is needed.

For most of us onlookers we feel a little helpless when we see the devastation it is wrecking. 

Anger is like the bush fire and can be dangerous: when you finally express it, or pin-point what or who is provoking you, anger flares up in unpredictable ways. We can’t be sure where it will take us -both the reactor and the recipient. Once it is fueled, anger rages through your mind and body; sometimes flaming high and hot; sometimes smoldering steadily for days causing internal and external damage.

For those who express anger in a flammable manner it may feel like it is over as soon as it starts but for those who smolder it can continue for days and months as they harbor offenses, frustrations and irritations. For the recipient, or the onlooker so to speak, who experience the flammable wrath of others, it is not over so quickly; they are left picking up the pieces of the devastation of those angry members who have moved on. They land up holding the pain – just like seeing the path of devastation of the fire. 

It is also difficult to live with people who smolder. Smoldering people try so hard not to offend and keep their grievances to themselves. It doesn’t work. You know the saying “where there is smoke there is fire?” well those around the “smolderer” see the smoke and intuitively know there is fire. The "smolderer"  might have shut down to their outer world but their mind is working overtime. Body language, facial expressions, sullen or grumpy moods and passive aggressive actions are some of the tell-tale signs. What feels uneasy for the onlooker is they don’t know where the “fire” is or where it is going to. 

It is important to keep the communication channels open – like controlled fire burning. If you make it a habit to keep short accounts and own your feelings you will find it enhances your relationships; after all you never know whether it will be you or your friend, a family member or partner who needs to air difficult feelings. 

Keep on communicating.
A warm smile,