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I don’t often lose my temper, but I often have to use it – Dolly Parton. The quote popped up on my newsfeed like a reminder from my inner self to do what I know to do. I needed the reminder to express myself and set my boundaries. I couldn’t wait to listen to the podcast that it was promoting (details below). You see, I feel the same way about my temper. I try to use it, instead of allowing it to use me.

Using my anger though is not something that came easily. I can be quick to anger and often that anger got out of control; things would be said, actions taken I couldn’t take back. I’ve never been a fighter, but when it came to psychological warfare that was a questionable gift that I possessed. A strange combination of an overthinking mind and the ability to read people (and therefore their weaknesses).

Along the way, I learned to control my anger and invoke it; not let it rule me or my actions. I take no pride in the hurt I’ve caused in the past. Given the opportunity, I’ve expressed that to those that it impacted. The reality though, is that it impacted me most. Losing my temper and allowing it to rule over me was isolating, often embarrassing and often put me in tough situations. I talked about finding my way through that in this short post.

 

But what’s the difference, right?

 

How do you know if you’re using your anger or if it’s using you? For me, it was how I felt at that moment and specifically afterwards. Was my anger intentional and used in a way that was powerful? Or was it let loose, spraying or firing all over the place? Identifying that difference was all it took for me. Before, during or after, if I could see that there was any ‘spraying’ of anger or choices that were not in keeping with who I am as a person, my temper had been lost. When I draw on my anger and use it, it’s calm and pointed. Direct in a way that it never is if my temper is lost.

It took practice and in many ways, it still does. In general, I don’t consider myself an angry person, anymore. It’s like an arrow in my quiver, something I can draw on when it’s required. Not in a fake way, but in a way that serves me. In the episode, Dolly references holding employees accountable for what they said they would (or even could) do. She also uses anger, when needed to set or maintain her boundaries. I love that. To be able to call upon anger in such a powerful way is exactly the kind of angry I want to be. Not to mention the next level which is to use my anger to call out injustice or inequality.

 

So, I keep learning and asking myself What WOULD Dolly Do?

 

 

Podcast description: Brené with Dolly Parton on Songtelling, Empathy and Shining Our Lights

This episode is proof that dreams do come true! I get to talk to Dolly Parton about love, empathy, and the power of truth-telling. We talk about everything from her new book, Dolly Parton, Songteller: My Life in Lyrics and songwriting, to the challenges of leading organizations and Burt Reynolds. It’s amazing to me how Dolly’s songwriting and storytelling seem to be driven by a deep calling to turn toward pain and heartbreak so she can shine a light for all of us to find our way.

Listen to the Dolly Parton episode of Brené Brown’s podcast Unlocking Us here.

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