Release from anger

Yesterday my husband told me I had a chip on my shoulder. The fact that I was sitting in an easy chair munching from a bag of chips at the time probably had something to do with it. We both had a good laugh. But that comic moment started me thinking about what it means to have a chip on my shoulder when I don’t happen to be eating a snack. 

The saying apparently goes back at least as far as the 1800s and represents the custom of placing a piece of wood on your shoulder as a dare for someone to come and knock it off, in the hope of taking part in a brawl. It has since come to represent the idea of holding a grudge or of harboring anger, and in the process sometimes expecting or even setting up others to provoke you. We might today also describe it in terms of choosing to be a victim as a way of venting one’s own resentment or pain.

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