This morning, my husband was telling me about how “pissed” he was because he ran out of printer paper at work, and had to print a 60-page deal for a client on letterhead, and now he’s out of letterhead, too.
So I responded, “I can see how you would be disappointed, but why would you be pissed? I mean, doesn’t being pissed imply being pissed at someone? How can you be pissed in general?”
To which he replied, “Clearly, you don’t know much about being pissed. Maybe you should Google it.”
No, maybe YOU should Google it, and find this post!
I was trying to make a point, and I guess I was being too subtle. Here is my point, and it has nothing to do with running out of paper. If you’re angry and pissed off at no one in particular, then really, it seems to me, you’re either pissed at the universe, or, possibly, at yourself. Now, being pissed at yourself is counterproductive. It does you no good whatsoever and is actually a form of self-sabotage. So, let’s set aside self-flagellation as an option right now. Throw out your whips and your hair shirts and don’t buy any new ones.
Being pissed at the universe, on the other hand, is, if possible, even MORE counterproductive than being pissed at yourself. The universe doesn’t understand negative words like “no” and “not.” So if you are saying to the universe, “this is NOT okay! this is DEFINITELY not okay!”, what it hears is: “This is okay!” “This is DEFINITELY okay!” It thinks you want more of the same, and that’s what it brings you.
Now, you might think this is bullshit or psychobabble. But, ask yourself how many people have an easy time hearing the word “no.” People don’t like to take no for an answer, and they don’t hear what they don’t want to hear. There are whole books about how to say no and be heard–and usually, the only way to have your no heard is to say yes to something else. In business, it’s more effective to say “my next available opening is Thursday,” than it is to say “I am closed Tuesdays and Wednesdays,” for example. Or, to use another common example, if “no, I don’t want to have sex,” doesn’t get heard, an alternative wording that might work well is “BACK OFF! LEAVE ME ALONE!” That way you’ve replaced a negative (don’t do this) with a positive (do that). I’m not making excuses for people who don’t hear the word “no,” however–just trying to give you a tool to help you to encourage people to hear it.
Another way to look at it is this: the intensity of your reaction is often more noticeable than its content. If someone meets you on a day when you’re pissed, they will remember that you were pissed, but maybe not why. It’s hard to say how that might affect you, but, it seems likely that your underlying message will come through garbled or won’t come through at all. As if you were a radio and all anyone could get from you was static.
And by the way, on a day like that, chances are that all you will get from yourself is static, too. You’ll come home tired and not having gotten much done. And, maybe, still pissed.
On the other hand. If you say yes to something, if you express gratitude, if you broadcast “I am so thankful” at the universe, your message, the thing that you are grateful for, tends to come through loud and clear. The universe understands that, and it gets that you might want more of whatever you’re so grateful for. That’s why people will tell you to have an “attitude of gratitude.” It’s not just a bumper sticker. It’s magic. It works.
So please try not to be pissed at the universe. I know that’s easier said than done. If it helps, imagine the universe as a big cheerful dog. You want to say to it, “who’s a good universe? You are! Yes, you are! What a good, good universe! Yes, we know what a good universe you are!” That’s how you get the universe to wag its tail at you and lick your face. It might not solve all your problems. But it will cheer you up! And that’s not nothing.
Upon seeing my statements about being “pissed” after having wasted 120 pages of letterhead (not the 60 you imply in your blog) posted on Tarot Salve, I did take you up on your offer and indeed found this post. Now perhaps YOU should have Googled the meaning of being “pissed” before writing your column.
Being pissed has 2 meanings. The first is British slang for being intoxicated. I certainly hope you do not believe that I was intoxicated because 120 pages of expensive paper were unnecessarily wasted since I had made a mistake. The second definition, and I believe the one you are referring to, means being annoyed and angered.
You then go on to state, and I quote, “Now, being pissed at yourself is counterproductive. It does you no good whatsoever and is actually a form of self-sabotage.” To a certain extent you are correct, but you are only seeing the negative side of being “pissed” and ignoring what a powerful and productive such a state of mind can do.
Being pissed off means you care enough not to be satisfied with the way things are, that you are committed to seeing yourself and others achieve their potential. I’m not talking about the kind of anger you feel when someone hits your car or when it’s not your day. I am saying to get pissed off is far more powerful than anger. The thing is, we get pissed off and we turn that into everyday anger because we don’t know how to manage it. We hide that anger and we end up unhappy, and distracted out from our true purpose. Yes, that can be a form of self-sabotage or whatever negative adjective you want to ascribe that state of being. However, you are only (perhaps intentionally) seeing the negative.
To use your language perhaps the universe wants us to be pissed off. Why? Because when you get pissed off you can to get pissed off for greatness. Get pissed off at the place you are right now, accept that you don’t want to be in that place and that you want something better. It’s your right to fight for what you want to fight for, but focus on the right things and don’t just become a bomb thrower. That is anger. Being pissed off is when you see your goal and push aside everything that is in your way. When you are pissed off you can become focused enough that mistakes are something other people make.
By being “pissed” that I had to waste 120 pages of expensive paper in front of a client, which made me look unprofessional, do you think I will ever make that mistake again? Why can’t the universe motivate different people in different ways? Anger can motivate people unlike anything else. In order to be really motivated, we need to feel something. The more intense the emotion, the stronger the motivation.
Was it a peaceful universe that lead to the 2011 overthrow of the corrupt Egyptian government? No. Millions of “pissed off” people from a range of socio-economic and religious backgrounds demanded the removal President Hosni Mubarak. The Egyptians were a really really pissed off people willing to throw away their personal fears to the point of clashing with brutal security forces with some protestors paid the ultimate price but they ultimately achieved their goal and Hosni Mubarak was removed from power.
Would you describe that as “self-sabotage”? No, these pissed off people were motivated enough to achieve what had been unthinkable for decades. Perhaps one of the most relatable examples of getting mad or being pissed off to motivate you to achieve a goal comes from Alec Baldwin’s opening speech in the film Glen Gary-Glen Ross:
Alec Baldwin: Let me have your attention for a moment. ‘Cause you’re talkin’ about what…you’re talkin’ ’bout…bitchin’ about that sale you shot, some son of a bitch don’t want to buy land, somebody don’t want what you’re selling, some broad you’re trying to screw, so forth, let’s talk about something important. Are they all here?
Kevin Spacey: All but one.
Baldwin: Well, I’m going anyway. Let’s talk about something important. (sees Lemmon pouring coffee). Put that coffee down. Coffee’s for closer’s only. You think I’m fuckin’ with you? I am not fucking with you. I’m here from downtown. I’m here from Mitch and Murray. And I’m here on a mission of mercy. Your name’s Levine?
Jack Lemmon: Yeah.
Baldwin: You call yourself a salesman, you son of a bitch.
Ed Harris: I don’t gotta listen to this shit.
Baldwin: You certainly don’t pal ’cause the good news is you’re fired. The bad news is you got all you got, just one week to regain your job, starting with tonight, starting with tonight’s sits. Oh, have I got your attention now? Good. ‘Cause we’re adding a little something to this month’s sale contest. As you all know, first prize is a Cadillac El Dorado. Anybody want to see second prize? Second prize is a set of steak knives. Third prize is your fired. You get the picture? You laughing now? You got leads. Mitch and Murray paid good money. Get their names to sell them. You can’t close the leads you’re given, you can’t close shit, you are shit, hit the bricks pal and beat it ’cause you are going out.
Lemmon: The leads are weak.
Baldwin: The leads are weak. The fuckin’ leads are weak? You’re weak. I’ve been in this business 15 years …
Harris: What’s your name?
Baldwin: Fuck you, that’s my name. You know why mister? Cause you drove a Hyundai to get here tonight, I drove an 80,000 dollar BMW. That’s my name. (To Lemmon) And your name is you’re wanting. You can’t play in the man’s game, you can’t close them? Then go home and tell your wife your troubles. Because only one thing counts in this life. Get them to sign on the line which is dotted. You hear me you fuckin’ faggots.
(Flips the blackboard)
ABC. A, Always, B, Be, C, Closing. Always be closing. Always be closing. AIDA. Attention. Interest. Decision. Action. Attention. Do I have your attention? Interest. Are you interested? I know you are ’cause it’s fuck or walk. You close or you hit the bricks. Decision. Have you made your decision for Christ? And action. AIDA. Get out there. You got the prospects coming in, you think they came in to get out of the rain? A guy don’t walk on the lot lest he wants to buy. They’re sitting out there waiting to give you their money. Are you going to take it? Are you man enough to take it? (To Harris) What’s the problem, pal?
Harris: You, boss, you’re such a hero, you’re so rich, how come you’re coming down here and wasting your time with such a bunch of bums?
Baldwin: You see this watch? You see this watch?
Baldwin: That watch costs more than your car. I made 970,000 dollars last year, how much you make? You see pal, that’s who I am, and you’re nothing. Nice guy? I don’t give a shit. Good father. Fuck you, go home and play with your kids. You want to work here, close. You think this is abuse? You think this is abuse, you cock-sucker. You can’t take this, how can you take the abuse you get on a sit. If you don’t like it, leave. I can go out there tonight, the materials you got, make myself 15,000 dollars. Tonight. In two hours. Can you? Can you?
Go and do likewise. AIDA. Get mad you son-of-a-bitch. Get mad. You know what it takes to sell real-estate? It takes brass balls to sell real estate. Go and do likewise, gents. The money’s out there, you pick it up, it’s yours, you don’t, I got no sympathy for you. You want to go out on those sits tonight and close, close, it’s yours, if not, you’re going to be shining my shoes. And you know what you’ll be saying. Bunch of losers sitting around in a bar: ”Oh yeah, I used to be a salesman. It’s a tough racket.”
These are the new leads. These are the Glengarry leads. And to you, they’re gold. And you don’t get them. Why? Because to give them to you is just throwing them away. They’re for closers. I’d wish you good luck, but you wouldn’t know what to do with it if you got it. (To Harris) And to answer your question, pal: Why am I here? I came here because Mitch and Murray asked me to, they asked me for a favor. I said the real favor, follow my advice and fire your fuckin’ ass because a loser is a loser.
And if you take nothing else away from this at least remember it is always better to be pissed off than pissed on.
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I’m not saying that it’s not useful to get angry at injustice and try to do something about it. For example, I certainly do get angry when I hear about hate crimes, police shootings, and Trump’s obvious intention to destroy our system of government. And that anger does motivate me to take action. But that’s not the kind of anger I’m referring to here. I probably should have made that clear. The kind of anger I’m talking about is the “everyone and everything is against me and nothing is going to go right today” kind of anger. Or for some people, it’s the “WTF is the matter with me, why can’t I do anything right” kind of anger. I know you feel that having Alec Baldwin or someone like him verbally abuse you is motivating. I just don’t see it though. In fact, being angry never makes me productive–it’s more likely to send me into a tailspin of thoughts circling my head. And in other people, I often see a reaction of “nothing will ever go right, life sucks” etc. I don’t think that’s quite the same as the anger that brings about revolutions. But feel free to start a “there will always be enough printer paper” revolution. Power to the paper!!! 🙂
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P. S. Surely you must have appreciated my Office Space meme.
I needed this today, so thank you! And the discourse in the comments was also clarifying because, guess what? My significant other and I have a discussion verging on exactly the same words…from time to time. *cough* I think the thing of it is? that in this culture anger, while constantly promoted, is frowned upon in the expression…so people toddle around at a low boil all the time and then something goes sideways and there you are. So anyway. Something went sideways this morning and I felt like: OH FECOVENTILATORY INCIDENT ((thank you T. Pyncheon) NUMBER ZILLION. WHY????!!!!! And your blog helped restore equilibrium. thank you again.
Lol, I’m glad I’m not the only one who gets into these discussions with loved ones! So glad you liked this.
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