In an earlier Blog, “Angry that’s OK” I talked about how anger is a natural emotion that we all feel. It’s ok to feel angry and its an emotion that needs to be expressed and released. Today I’d like to discuss a different type of anger that is more linked to tolerance and understanding of others rather than something happening that shouldn’t have.
It’s taken me a few goes to write this Blog. Every time I think that its about half way done I read through it and the message doesn’t ring true. So I stop and think what is this really about. Each time requires self reflection to understand what I’m after from this blog, who I am deep down and about what people have said to me over the years. Take it from me, doing an honest self appraisal isn’t fun, in fact it opens up all the doors you keep locked to stop remembering the stuff you want to forget.
I’m not sure whether it’s PTSD or the difference between military and civilian life but sometimes the words and actions of others infuriate me. I don’t now whether this happens with other Veterans or its only me and my mindset.
When I asked the last question I realised it is about me and my mindset. In being truthful with myself I have to admit I have a low tolerance of others and don’t appreciate criticism. When I was younger this was more apparent with me having a hair trigger temper. These character traits have counted against me over the years and presented a significant self ignored problem until three years after I separated from the Navy.
In 2010 I joined a company that considered itself a “Covey” organisation. Steven R Covey, now dead, is a management Guru whose teachings helped me significantly in understanding which character flaws needed work and provided methods to help with this. Of course things didn’t change over night and my own arrogance prevented me from recognising that I needed to change aspects of who I was.
It wasn’t until six months later when my employer recognised I was still struggling that I was provided more help. The company saw in me an employee who was technically good but struggled with people or the soft skills. To assist me in recognising my weaknesses and to help find a development path they provided me with a personal coach. This opportunity, over time, has helped me develop a friendlier more empathetic communication style and an understanding of people to build tolerance levels.
So where am I today. Well I still get angry at things although I’ve curbed my temper. The things that make me angry are waste, laziness and people that complain about what I consider rubbish. Rather than expressing the anger I use an empathetic conversation style to try and understand the other persons view and help them appreciate my position. This seems to work the majority of times with positive outcomes. Where this method fails I internalise the anger and work through it to soothe the anger. This coupled with exercise seems to help.
As for tolerance I still need a lot of work here. Coming from a “harden up princess” culture I struggle with the sense of entitlement others have and the way people focus on the small not bigger picture. The standing joke for those that know me well is I am a “People Person”. It’s a good joke and when I hear it I appreciate I still have work to do.
So what does this Blog mean for other Veterans? I think when we leave the military we miss the can do, look after each other, harden up culture. There is no other organisation in the world that has this culture. Then there is a sense of entitlement held by people who have never done it tough or put themselves on the line for those next to them. These differences grate against a veterans sense of duty and what’s right, in many instances impacting their ability to integrate into society and workplaces.
For what its worth, my advice is to accept you will never again experience what you had in the military. The new world is different, sometimes overpoweringly so, and can make the transition seem insurmountable. While foreign to our beliefs we need to park who we were and be willing to learn about the new culture we are entering. This isn’t something that’s easy to do and quite often help is required to understand the challenges we face, how we see others and how they see us.
Along the way I’ve had personal coaching, my psychologist and talked to other Veterans and veteran organisations. The end position for me was I’m not suitable for a workplace outside the military and have made the decision to retire. Other Veterans have been extremely successful in their transitions showing it can be done.
If you are struggling making the transition perhaps you could seek out these success stories and ask for a mentoring relationship. Leverage the success of others in achieving what you seek.