The fear of anger at work.
Stress and Work
I used to work as a waiter at a few different restaurants when I was in my late teens and early 20s.
Many a night I used to go to sleep after my shift, only to bring my work home with me into my dreams. Apparently a lot of people who work in restaurants report having the same experience.
The dreams are pretty much stress dreams. They involve being at work, and for some reason the shift morphs into one where you simply can’t do your job properly no matter how hard you try.
It starts off with me trying to serve a table and getting mixed up and confused about the customer’s order. Then having trouble inputting that order into the computer. And then taking way too long with that task while more tables continue to pile in.
On top of all that the food isn’t ready to serve, and then suddenly it IS ready but all at once, and I forget where all the plates have to go.
MAD AT ME
At this point everyone is mad at me. The customers because they’re waiting for their order. The manager because I’m not serving these customers. The cooks because the food that they are preparing is just sitting there, cluttering up their counter, and the customers waiting to get in the restaurant because tables aren’t turning over fast enough.
And this is the central theme of the dream. That I am anxious and very stressed about the fact that if I don’t perform, people are going to be angry with me and there will be consequences of some kind – fear of anger.
After thinking about the fact that I had these dreams for little while, I have to conclude that I wasn’t just afraid of other people’s anger in the dreams, but that I was likely afraid of their anger while I was working on shift too. I just wasn’t as aware I was.
All these people getting mad at me. Me trying to please all these people.
You can see why I got into the service industry in the first place, because I was good at pleasing – which is a codependent behavior that came about again, because of having an angry father.
Being afraid of him – and my mother as well to some extent – I learned to cope with his chronic and often unpredictable hostility by shutting myself down and cultivating the art of, ‘anticipating his needs before he even knew he had them.’
The art of pleasing.
This way I would be managing his anger by assuaging it before it even got a chance to bubble up and pop.
It was exhausting even then when I was a child. And was still exhausting when I grew up a little and worked those crazy, stressful shifts. So much so that the tension carried over into my dreams where it was further processed because it was too much to handle while I was on the job.
I know lots of people who work as servers in restaurants who have these dreams. I’m sure that some of them are like me, anxious pleasers that are a great fit for the dynamic that involves a job where you serve others.
I’m also sure there are some (a lot probably) who don’t have this issue but still get the restaurant dreams. After all working a four to six hour shift during a rush is pretty tense. You’re highly focused, running around, and barely breathing while simultaneously trying to do 5 things at once without having any break at all.
It’s just the nature of the job. I have to say I also enjoyed many of those shifts. The camaraderie you develop with your fellow waiters, cooks and busboys makes it seem at times that you’re socializing instead of working.
So although I had a good time I also felt tension working there as I carried my psychological issue with me to work. It went (and still goes) everywhere with me including my dreams.
All this because I’m afraid of anger, specifically other people’s anger, but also my own.
I’m working on it.
*** If you’re going through something similar then I hope this helped. If you are, I invite you to share it with me and everybody else who visits here by typing it up and emailing it over. I’ll post it on the blog which would benefit everyone; you for writing it up – which gets you in touch with your unconscious more and with this issue of yours specifically – and us for relating with it and perhaps seeing our own issue from a different angle.
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