Afterwards I realized that by keeping quiet I had saved a situation where I could have hurt someone who was petrified. He had not yelled at me because he was angry with me but because of his fearful reaction to my huge fellow:
There once was a little boy who had a bad temper. His father gave him a bag of nails and told him that every time he lost his temper, he must hammer a nail into the back of their fence. The first day the boy had driven 37 nails into the fence. Over the next few weeks, as he learned to control his anger, the number of nails hammered daily gradually dwindled down. He discovered it was easier to hold his temper than to drive those nails into the fence.
Finally the day came when the boy didn’t lose his temper at all. He told his father about it and the father suggested that the boy now pull out one nail for each day that he was able to hold his temper. The days passed and the young boy was finally able to tell his father that all the nails were gone. The father took his son by the hand and led him to the fence, and said, ‘You have done well, my son, but look at the holes in the fence. The fence will never be the same again’.
When you say things in anger, they leave a scar just like this one. You can put a knife in a man and draw it out. But it won’t matter how many times you say I’m sorry, the wound will still be there.
A verbal wound is even worse than a physical one. There are many of us who are known to have a short fuse. “I’ve got a short temper,” we tell our friends glibly, “But I also forget the issue completely!”
Or we tell our spouse and others, that though we get angry fast, we also cool down quickly. But think again, has that cooling down prevented the damage from being done. Look closely at the people with whom you’ve lost your temper, are they still the same with you, as they were when they first met you? Nails in the fence, yes, pull them out, but the scars remain.
I took my German Shepherd home this morning and as I thought back to what had happened I wondered why it was we lose our temper and leave those scars.
Maybe when we reach such a situation, we just need to learn to still ourselves, to take a deep breath, and tell ourselves that it is pointless leaving scars on people that may never go away..!