“Anger isn’t the problem. The problem is getting hooked on anger—addicted to an emotion that gives you a fleeting high but leaves you feeling worse, robbing you of well-being and creating an insatiable
I was on the phone with my sister-in-law who said (about the election), “I’m just so sick of all the anger.” True enough. The vitriol has reached nauseating levels. My early childhood taught me that raised adult voices lead to danger. Emotionally, it makes me want to flee to the closet like I did as a kid. Intellectually, I understand that anger serves the necessary purposes
Image from Unsplash, by Hanson Lu
of establishing boundaries and claiming the rights for individuals, groups, or (any number of) species.
It’s an emotion that can mask other feelings, often fear. It can also hide sadness, depression, or anxiety—all of which are deadening and typically directed inward. Fury is vibrant, full of energy, and often outwardly directed (although it can be aimed toward the self). If you’re not feeling much of anything, rage lets you know you’re alive. It amps you up like a hit of caffeine or sugar—and that’s how it becomes addictive.
I consider anger’s function to be the emotional equivalent of physical pain which is designed to alert us to a problem requiring attention. Like bodily discomfort, anger should be a temporary condition that leads us to action. Currently, there’s a lot over which we have no control. Social media and the news are rife with examples of what happens when people feel powerless and seek unhealthy outlets that don’t relieve the stress but feed it. If you’re like me, there’s only so much you can absorb before it makes you sick. I’ve had to back away; my health depends on it. If you’ve known people who are constantly angry, you’re aware of how disturbing and draining they are. Physical conditions such as elevated heart rate and blood pressure, and/or numbing oneself with substances are the by-products. So, too, are violent words and/or deeds.
I loved a spiritual leader’s recent analogy when she asked us to remember being in a public pool with loud sounds of raucous, good natured mayhem—then what it’s like to put your head under water and the noise recedes. We need the equivalent of being able to go under water to reduce today’s irate racket. Helpful practices include stepping away from media, listening to music, or enjoying the sounds of nature. Meditation and yoga also assist—as well as dancing with abandon! Let your brain and heart restore themselves by taking a break from the barrage of fury. From a balanced state, it’s much easier to assess options for helpful, not hateful, behavior.
When do you become angry? How do you channel it into a constructive force? How do you avoid being a sponge for others’ anger? Please write your comments in the box below.
Sending you appropriately physically distanced encouragement—and a reminder that holiday lights are good for more than just the holidays!