Anger is something that everyone experiences, at one level or another, and it needs to be expressed to maintain emotional health and intimacy. Anger is a social emotion. Definitions of anger vary from being a body tension with a cognitive view of the world as being frustrating, irritating, insulting, unfair or assaulting to a literal demand from our internal being to pay attention to our essential needs and then to act accordingly. The biological or evolutionary view of anger is one of preparing the entire organism for rapid response to threatening situations.
With anger, the blood flows more quickly as heart rate increases and the rush of adrenaline generates the pulse necessary for vigorous action. The word anger really covers a lot of ground, from indignation to distress, annoyed, aggravated, keyed-up, intense, frustrated, ardent, zealous, and even excited. When we talk about anger, we are talking about a family of strong ‘hot’ feelings.
Anger cannot be dishonest.
George R. Bach
Anger describes an inner space and anger makes a person’s space clear. In anger, our inner world lights up brightly for others to see. In this way, anger is an honest emotion. Anger does have the habit of breaking though most of the games people play. When someone commits and offense against us, or acts in a harmful way, it is natural to show ‘feelings’ of displeasure.
People have a very strong tendency to judge Anger
Anger shows a ‘strong’ displeasure about something.
Reject not anger for it is expressing more than we imagine.
What that displeasure is about is very important. If we get angry because we are not getting our way it is one thing. If we have the kind of anger that is aroused by something unjust, mean, or unworthy it is something else. Modern psychology understands that the universal trigger for anger is the sense of being endangered. This sense of endangerment is not limited to mere physical threats. It can include threats to self-esteem and dignity.
There is a another kind of anger that deserves our respect.
Anger can show us where respect is being disrespected.
Anger can show us something is wrong and needs correction.
There is an anger that transcends the selfish undisciplined ego. An anger that we can see in nature that delivers consequences and is ruthless and impartial. In general, when we love cosmically it is the divisions in human life that causes intense feelings, anguish and sometimes-even anger. Our beings were never meant to live with the uncaring and separation we face in society. We were meant to live with love and caring but today it is rare when people find deep love. Thus, it is quite natural for us to have strong feelings when we are attacked by uncaring and selfishness.
Our strong feelings are not just emotions to be controlled; they are internal calls to action, to attention, to the turning on of the full powers of our consciousness. The real value of anger is found in the moment it arises and the reason for its occurrence. Anger can propel us to evaluate a situation more carefully. Anger is a powerful call to pay attention to what is going on in our internal and external environments and to understand the relationship between the two.
If a man meets with injustice, it is not required
that he shall not be roused to meet it?
Henry Ward Beecher
Most people associate anger with blame, “You make me angry.” In this case, the cause of the anger is in our thinking, in some judgment about who the person is and what they are doing. Blame is not the same thing as an intelligent call for change.
The three main choices seen in modern psychological circles for the processing of angry feelings is expression, suppressing, and calming. The expression of angry feelings in ‘assertive ways’ has always been seen favorably as the healthiest way to express anger. Anger often is a message to get clear on what our needs are and to establish how in fact we are going to get those needs met. The expression of our anger shows a respect for our own feelings and respect for others who need to hear what we are feeling.
“When we don’t feel safe to have or express our anger we start to contain this life force and eventually may experience exhaustion and even health related issues. If showing anger as a child was met with disapproval, or love was withheld, or violent anger was returned towards us then we learn to suppress it, turn it inwards or explode outwards and experience more punishment.”
Repression of anger is actually the worst method of anger management causing serious medical problems like hypertension, depression, and cardiac dysfunction. Anger can provide the motive force and the energy that allows us to stand up and fight for ourselves. The highest form of anger comes from the self that just wants to stand up for what is right. The hero inside of us wants to vanquish those dark forces. In this anger (strong feelings) can be both our shield and our sword.
We boil at different degrees.
Ralph Waldo Emerson
There are people who get angry easily and there are others who just cannot seem to get angry when they should. Who wants to get upset in life and who on this earth is so perfect that they never get upset? “Anger is a signal and one worth listening to,” writes Dr. Harriet Lerner in her renowned classic The Dance with Anger.
Anger – Communication – Conflict
There are certain things that we just cannot say to another without bringing up a lot of conflict and anger. No matter how calmly and skillfully we communicate, if we show another person that some action of theirs is hurting our inner world (creating or provoking strong feelings) they will usually react with anger even though they might not show it directly.
Often there is a need to deliver a message, to make a communication. How do we get someone to listen? The softest and most peaceful means is to open our hearts and make a vulnerable communication that expresses exactly how we feel and what we are seeing and needing.
What do we do when this type of communication is ignored? Violence is actually a communication of last resort. When all else fails and communication breaks down completely, many people resort to violence. However, the more we evolve and work on ourselves (ego) the clearer and more forceful our communications become and the less we need anger as a motive and drive of communication.
There is an anger (strong feeling) whose source is love
and this type of anger is a force to be approached
with care for it has the power like no force on earth.
The origin of spiritual fire expressed as anger
is not hate but love not separation but oneness.
To be aware is to care and if we are aware of how we are feeling, we will care to communicate which is a form of action. People have a profound lack of ability to care for the inner world of others and they express this poverty with their inability to listen.
There are skillful ways of expressing anger that maximizes the chance of being heard. “I feel angry, when you doubt me, or don’t believe in me, because I am afraid I am going to lose you,” is very different from, “You make me angry.” The word you is an attack and the other will rally to defend themselves against any perceived hostility.
Truth and Anger
People today are angry and that is ushering in a popular rebellion against the status quo. Moreover, the status quo, and all the people attached to it, are angry that people want change and are voting for it. Those who hold the reins of power in the west would rather die (and take many of us with them in a nuclear exchange) than admit or even perceive their total wrongness of being.
Be angry, and yet do not sin; do not
let the sun go down on your anger.
Ephesians 4:26 Bible
On one end, we see that anger is triggered by irrational thoughts, especially thoughts related to unconscious demands, desires, and expectations. We want things to be a certain way, our way and it seems like millions are getting all bent out of shape because things are not going according to plan. Intense egocentric anger runs parallel with fits of rage, violence, intense jealousy, possessiveness and poor communication behaviors.
Progressives, liberals and even the center right are enraged as the harder right step up onto the stage of world politics. “What we see is increasing violence on the part of self-righteous protestors who feel their own righteousness merits violent action.” People have not wanted to see how badly the world is in need of change and now there is hell to pay. Moreover, it is not just civilization and out governments that need to change, we all need to face ourselves, our egos, our willingness to go along with any lie (global warming), and the list goes on.
In the end, angry people usually cannot tell if their anger is in tune. Is it self-righteous egotistical anger or is it something really from the heart as we react to uncaring. Roosevelt gives us a clue. If it is truth that is getting us angry then our anger will boil over and over cutting us off from our own hearts because our hearts are organs of truth. Just like infidelities (lies) make it impossible to stay in one’s heart inappropriate and misdirected anger do the same thing.
In our modern world most people are living in their heads not in their hearts and we can tell this by the frequency of our thoughts. When one cannot stop thinking one cannot have the heart with its full flavor of vulnerability, love and understanding.
Recently I published an essay on my Facebook entitled, ‘Yazidi Girls Sold as Sex Slaves while Women March against Trump’ that had an avalanche of responses from women mostly supporting the idea that the hate and anger against Trump is somewhat misplaced.
The heart does not cut itself off from the whole, it does not, cannot ignore wrongs even if they are occurring on the other side of the world. Egos of course can, targeting a specific person or idea that does not go along with one’s own ideas or preferred individuals.
What is important is not our anger it is truth. It is difficult for angry people to stop and consider that they are wrong and that their anger is misplaced. Self-righteous people are those who cannot consider their wrongness. They are too busy thinking they are right, which means they cannot listen to the other side of the coin.
So if you really want to discern if your anger is in tune ask yourself if you can listen to others. We have the right to agree not to agree but if we get angry about it then we should know that we are probably wrong.