Last fall, my son and I went up into the foothills on public land to shoot some of my guns. He wanted to try my goose gun, which is powerful. We had a good time putting up cardboard boxes on a hillside and watch the pattern of the shots, which was broad. With a shotgun, you just point it in the general direction and most likely will hit the target by some of the shot, but some surrounding area are hit that you weren’t aiming for. Wood and pinecones flew about around the target.
A friend of mine, Dr. Robert Wicks who sends out an article via Facebook that I subscribe to, used the term in one of his articles about “shotgun anger” in describing those who in moments of anger, frustration or judgementalism responds to others in a blast of angry words and sometimes actions. These shotgun anger moments aptly describe how their words and actions projects on a wider area sometimes hitting those innocently standing nearby.
I must be truthful. In the emotion and frustration, my anger projects out and touches co-workers, family, friends and even strangers. I hold on to this anger and it projects out in a hard look, normal conversation with a bite, and even how I act, such as loud silence or slamming a book shut. Sometimes, the anger isn’t against another but over life issues building up in myself. People around me know I am angry one way or another. They felt the blast on the fringe.
Everyone gets angry. It’s a part of our emotional responses. It is what you do with it that makes the difference on whether it be destructive or motivational. Of course, you know this. You’ve seen your anger in action. It has motivated you to take a stand or do something to make a positive difference. On the other hand, it can hurt and destroy relationships. To take control and allow it to “hit the target” in a positive way is what we strive for. Beware, though, that to shotgun it out without regard of the consequences, will destroy and hurt.
As Thomas Jefferson is quoted in saying, “When angry, count to 10 before you speak; if very angry, count to a 100.”
By Retired Chaplain (Brig. Gen.) Ray Bailey
Former Deputy Chief of Chaplains