|Recipe for Anger Chili
© 1997 Michele Toomey, PhD
The purpose of this recipe is to give expression to anger without abusing yourself or others. If we are angry, we have every right to claim our anger and to express it. In fact, anger can become very volcanic and destructive if it is swallowed over an extended period of time.
It will be helpful to you if you will read the following list contrasting violating anger with liberating anger before you read the recipe.
Violating Anger vs. Liberating Anger
|Has a twist
|Manipulates the truth
||Seeks the relief of honest self-expression
|Has a hidden agenda
||Wants to discover the truth
|Attacks to hurt
||Expresses the hurt and anger
|Blames and proves "guilt"
|Is a weapon
||Is a tool
|Seeks to discredit the other as a person
||Seeks to expose
|Has no accountability
|Hides behind innocence
||Chooses not to hide
|Is righteously superior
|Assumes another's motives
||Never assumes motives
|Needs a villain
|Refuses to claim anything
||Claims its part
|Seeks to punish
||Determines consequences for itself
|Uses information to make a case against the other
||Uses information for clarity and understanding
|Leads to abuse
||Leads to intimacy
|Alienates and violates
Because anger has such force and potential for violence, it needs to be treated with great discipline and respect. Uncontrolled anger is dangerous and we recognize that even if we don't know how to control it. Unaddressed and unexpressed anger is also dangerous, and we tend not to realize that. A recipe for setting us on the right track in dealing with anger is, therefore, a very important and very difficult recipe.
Preparation: (Use a large cast iron kettle)
- 3 quarts of perceived unfairness, and/or meanness and abuse, with its stinging disappointment, hurt, anger and outrage
- 1 - 3 cups of red hot anger (depending on the degree of intensity that is felt)
- 2 tablespoons of "in your face" attitude
- 3 - 5 winces of hurt
- 2 - 3 loud sighs of disappointment
- 2 - 5 shouts of outrage Several flashbacks of similar past experiences
- Many rounds of self-reflection, assessing and evaluating the situation, what led up to it, what contributed to it, your reaction to it, and each person's role in it
- 3 ounces of integrity
- 3 quarts of discipline
- As many strong confrontations as needed
- A gallon of demand for accountability and fairness from yourself and the other(s) involved
- A quart of claiming of your part in what occurred
- A quart of urgent need to be understood, to understand, and to treat and be treated fairly
- 2 brisk shakes of commitment to interact with integrity and fairness after serving
- Bring to a rapid boil the 3 quarts of perceived unfairness and/or meanness and abuse with its stinging disappointment, hurt, anger and outrage. Stir vigorously while adding the appropriate number of cups of hot anger and the two tablespoons of "in your face" attitude.
- Great care must be taken at this stage, because the mixture is very volatile. Flashbacks and outbursts can occur unexpectedly, triggering shouts of outrage that ignite the already hot and flammable feelings. Caution must be taken to be able to handle such volatility without injury.
- Gradually lower the temperature and simmer before adding the winces of hurt and sighs of disappointment. Stir slowly until thickening begins to occur, then blend in the shouts of outrage, one at a time, letting each one permeate the mixture and bring it to a boil, as you add the flashbacks of past experiences.
- Stir continuously to prevent any boiling over. When you are ready, add the rounds of self-reflection, evaluation of the situation, what contributed to it, and your reaction to it and each person's role in it, including and especially your own. Breathe deeply and allow the steam to enter your system as you pour and stir. Take your time and do not rush.
- As you ponder, combine the three ounces of integrity with the three quarts of self-discipline, mix thoroughly before stirring it into the boiling kettle. Lumps will begin to solidify and it will become harder to stir. Now add the strong confrontations and gallon of demand for accountability and fairness along with the quart of claiming your part in what occurred. Cook for ten minutes, continuously stirring and boiling. When the chili is completely thick and lumpy, add the quart of urgent need to be understood and to understand, and to treat and be treated fairly. When the color changes from bright red to burnt red, it is ready to serve.
How to best serve Anger Chili
Set the table with solid commitment to your best effort in expressing your anger fairly, strongly and accountably. Use your best bowls of yielding to the actual outcome even if your best efforts do not yield the desired results: an acknowledgment of the legitimacy of your anger, a resolution of the conflict, a claiming on everyone's part and an apology where appropriate.
Invite to the table those who were involved in the situation that triggered your anger, and as you serve them in your best bowls, shake commitment to interact with integrity and fairness on the top of the chili in each bowl.
Know that your effectiveness as a good self-expression cook is in the integrity of your preparation and presentation, not in the response of those who receive it. We cannot control the reaction we get, we are only in charge of how we prepare, what we present and how we deal with it. Anger chili is a very hard dish to prepare and present. It will take your best effort.