I’m a Little Teapot: When Anger Boils Over

I’m a Little Teapot: When Anger Boils Over January 26, 2022

Yesterday, a homeless client threw a drink at me. Then he threw a table. I gave him unwelcome news, and his first reaction was to fling things. I had to deal not only with his anger but with my own emotional reaction to being the target for a hurled grape soda. So, what about you? What do you do when your anger is about to boil over?

Image by Thomas Wolter from Pixabay









Most people take time out in one way or another. Some count to ten. Others take a bubble bath. You might put on a pot of tea. Do you remember that old kid’s song, “I’m a Little Teapot?”  Believe it or not, singing this song in a moment of anger can totally change your attitude. So, step aside, and try it. It’s a simple song but you’ll find a hidden message embedded within its words.


I’m a little teapot, short and stout.

First, by acknowledging that you’re a teapot, you confess your potential for boiling over. Anger can get away from you, causing destruction if you’re not careful. Like a pot of scalding liquid, you have the potential to hurt the ones closest to you. This can be scary to admit, but it’s important to realize the possible harm your anger could inflict.

Second, don’t take yourself too seriously. If you physically step aside from your moment of anger and picture just how silly you look, your perspective will begin to shift. See yourself in a ridiculous image, like a roly-poly teapot. It’ll make you laugh when you realize how melodramatic you’re being.

Here is my handle, here is my spout.

This line shows that there are two ways you can choose to deal with anger. Either you can get a handle on it, or you can spout off. It’s up to you. As you try to get a grip, you may need a potholder like meditation, prayer, or a walk around the block. Using the handle means removing the pot from the heat—the source of disruption—so you don’t blow your top or spout off.

Try stepping aside to sing this song, rocking back and forth the way you learned as a child. Place one hand out in the air, and the other on your hip. This helps you see how silly you can be, and it turns down the temperature in a volatile situation.

When I get all steamed up, hear me shout

This, of course, refers to the teapot’s whistle. When you get steaming mad, do you whine? Do you shout? Do you cry? If you do shout, be careful with the words you use, as you can never take them back. Listen to the next line, suggesting something useful for people who get overly angry. The next line is the thing that the teapot shouts:


“Tip me over and pour me out!”

What gets poured out? The song says it’s “Me.”  You’re pouring out yourself, your ego.

When I make tea, I often forget the kettle on the stove and let it boil over, splattering everywhere. But I, the Teapot, realize I will not make a mess if I pour “Me” out. By pouring yourself out—removing ego from the situation—you put yourself in a better position to see clearly. You can suspend your Self and become an unbiased observer of your anger-stimulus. You can attend to the internal source of your upset, and by understanding, you can heal it.


I Must Decrease

Today, I saw that same client again. He told me, “You know, you remind me of a little garden gnome.”  I’m sure he meant this to be an insult to my height. But instead of getting offended, I told him, “I’ve heard leprechaun before, but never gnome! That’s a good one!” Knowing my client to be an artist, I asked him to draw me as a gnome, with one of those pointy hats. He laughed and put pen to paper.

“Do you sing?” he asked as he drew. “Can you sing me a song?”

I could have chosen to be indignant–after all, I’m not a performing monkey. Instead, I smiled and said, “Sure! What would you like to hear?” He requested You Are My Sunshine. “I’ll do you one better,” I said. “I’ll sing it to you in a gnome voice!”

My client’s eyes lit up as I sang in a high-pitched vibrato.  He cackled as he drew, wiping tears from his face. Outwardly, I was singing the song he requested, but inwardly, I was singing I’m a Little Teapot. With a joke and a tune, the crisis became a bonding experience. What made the difference was that I decided not to take myself so seriously.

In the New Testament, John the Baptist’s followers tempt his anger and envy, complaining that Jesus is gaining more followers than John. But instead of becoming angry, John replies, “He must increase, but I must decrease.” In moments of anger, I’ve heard people quickly pray, “More of you, Lord, and less of me.” This is the egoless prayer of John—the song of the teapot. “Tip me over and pour Me out!”

So, the next time you get angry at someone, think of the teapot. You’ll start to chuckle when you think of yourself short and stout, with handle and spout. Your mood will change–I guarantee it. Or better yet just stop for a moment, look the person in the eye, strike a teapot pose, and sing your steamy song.


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