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Memphis Daily News
Give Anger the Silent Treatment
August 25, 2016
By Dr. Mary C. McDonald

I heard a story recently about a woman whose husband was dead for three days before she called for help. When the paramedics arrived they asked her why she waited so long to call. “I didn’t realize he was dead,” she said. “I thought he was just giving me the silent treatment.”

I’m not sure if this is a true story or not, but the sad thing is it could be. Anger isolates. No matter what spin is put on the inability to recognize, communicate and deal with your emotions, it is foolhardy to ignore the evidence of what is really happening.

I don’t know what that woman did to incur her husband’s anger. What I do know is that anger holds you hostage if you stay focused on the behavior of another rather than focus on your own feelings and how to deal with them.

What a feat for that man to be so good at not communicating, at not reconciling, at not letting go of anger, that he could slip, unnoticed, into eternity. It’s the kind of isolation experienced when you make external things central to the meaning of your life.

New expressions of anger and its disastrous effects have crept into our vocabulary such as “hostile work environment,” “domestic violence” and “road rage.” The location is not the issue, the anger is. When stress, or a sense of losing control, feeling unsafe or fearful, cause us to overreact to perceived affronts to our ego, then it is time to focus on controlling emotions, not unleashing them.

There is a time for anger, a time for calling oneself, and others, to accountability. But habitual anger is an enslaving traveling companion that seeks to destroy. The only difference between a rut and a grave is the depth. When you focus only on things outside your control, you lose control. Unless you learn to let go of a need to control the behavior of others, you will never be free of the anger that controls you.

In some relationships, there is a need on the part of one person to blame the other for the anger felt, and an equal need by the other to accept that blame and to try to change to conform to the expectation of the other person. When you become comfortable in an environment of emotional dishonesty in order to survive in a relationship, you give up who you are. If the admission price to a relationship with another person is to deny who you are, then the price is too high.

You cannot make another person like you. You can only let go of the need to be liked by that other person. Handing yourself over to the control of another does not guarantee your happiness. It only guarantees control. All spirits are entitled to be free. The only approval, acceptance or appreciation you need is found in freeing yourself of your anger toward others and your condemnation of their behavior.

The ultimate freedom is realized only when you place your life in God’s hands and give anger the silent treatment.

Contact Dr. Mary C. McDonald, a national education consultant, at 574-2956 or visit

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