It’s highly unlikely that you’ve ever seen Dolly Parton without a smile on her face. But just like any other person, the “Jolene” singer experiences the full spectrum of human emotions, including anger.
It’s how she channels her rage that makes her who she is. “I don’t lose my temper, but I use my temper,” she recently said in an interview with Nancy O’Dell on TalkShopLive, per People. “Of course, I’ve lost it a few times but it’s not that I’m losing my temper, I’m trying to use it because sometimes there are just some people you have to speak up to.”
As Anusha Atmakuri, LPC, the founder and CEO of Antara Counseling and Wellness in Austin previously told SELF, “Anger is often the first layer of emotion, protecting or masking other emotions like disappointment, overwhelm, hurt, hunger, guilt, or shame.” And when the fire you’re feeling intensifies, the only way to put it out is to take a step back.
“To stop the anger spiral, create space between your emotions and actions,” Stacey B. Daughters, PhD, a licensed clinical psychologist previously told SELF. (Listen to a meditation app, go for a rage run, or let it all out in a journal, for example.)
Parton combines some of those techniques with her go-to coping skill: songwriting. Anger is particularly apparent in her recent single, “World on Fire.” The track comments on the polarized climate in the US, with lyrics like: “Now how are we to live in a world like this? Greedy politicians, present and past. They wouldn’t know the truth if it bit ‘em in the ass.”
She told O’Dell that she wrote it after waking up in the middle of the night with a heavy heart. “With all the greed and the hate and just everything, it just bottled up in me,” she explained. “And I felt I needed to say something because I just felt like I should and somebody might listen.”
If a tense situation involves Parton’s work or family, though, it’s more difficult to neatly package her anger into a song. “I’m just a regular person. I’m not one where I’m one person out here and another [in private]. I’m a businessperson. Sometimes you’ve just kind of gotta pitch a fit to get it done or get it done right,” she said. “Like I’ve always said, I’ll tell ya where to put it if I don’t like where you got it. I think anybody’s like that.”
She did admit, though, that it takes a lot for her to reach that point: “You gotta push me pretty far to get me stirred up.”