No, I’m Still Not Angry

People often suggest that I get- and stay- pissed.  It’s a common prescription for any separation:  if you find yourself displeased, disparage until you feel dignified.

But… y’all know I don’t buy into that.  I don’t want subsist on venom.  (Wouldn’t that make me poisonous?)   My goal here is to get better, not bitter.

Of course, I do experience moments of infuriation (like that day I was crying in the bathroom at work and I had an overwhelming urge to punch the wall).  And I’ll admit that I’ve indulged in some creative (and not-so-creative) name calling.  Overall, though, I’m not mad.  More frequently I feel:

  • Sad
  • Frustrated
  • Proud
  • Guilty
  • Empathetic
  • Liberated
  • Stupid
  • Empowered
  • Smart
  • Confused
  • Compassionate
  • Lost
  • Strong
  • Incomplete
  • Independent
  • Sad (yep…this is a biggie.  worthy of being listed twice!)

Anger flirts with me.  When it shows up, it dazzles me with its promises of power and righteousness.  It whispers in my ear, “You’re correct.  You’re justified…  Now c’mon, let’s have some fun together!”  Sometimes I want to pull it close and hold on.  Yet, I know better.  I know that anger only covers up those unpleasant emotions that I don’t want to deal with.  You know the ones I’m talking about?   The ones that evoke weakness and vulnerability- several of them are listed above.  I’m also aware that the list above contains happier feelings and, if I’m patient, eventually one of them will come along.  It’s not necessary to soothe myself with negativity.  I’ve said it before:  hating isn’t healing.

In order not to attach to anger, I’ve been employing a new trick:  replace animosity with curiosity.  This is rather easy for me to do because I have an obnoxiously incessant need to ask “Why?” all the time.  So…when I feel angry, I attempt to decode the situation.  I ask “why?” … if nobody can give me an answer, I form various hypotheses (as realistic as possible, considering all aspects of the situation and the human nature of those involved).  This allows me to view the issue from a perspective of humanity and compassion rather than contempt.  Understanding makes the reality easier to accept, regardless of whether or not I like the conclusions I come to.

Has anyone else tried this?  Or another method of avoiding the Anger Trap?  Or, are you one of those who believes that “anger is a gift”?  Let me know…

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10 comments on “No, I’m Still Not Angry

  1. Lori says:

    I understand letting go of the anger, but I don’t understand disavowing it as a legitimate emotion. It doesn’t cover anything up, I’m angry because I was lied to. The definition is “a strong feeling of displeasure and belligerence aroused by a wrong”. Even though I don’t act on it, there are still ‘strong feelings of displeasure’ that I would be treated in such a way, and in fact, that treating people so dishonorably continues to happen, often. And is frequently excused.

    It is wrong. Period. But what can I DO with the anger? That’s the question I ask. I can use it to try and prevent others from getting hurt. In advice to friends, in teaching my children, in my communications in relationships.

    Your anger is legitimate. It is real. But it does not have to be uncontrolled. It does not have to be vengeful.

    • I think anger is a genuine emotion… but it’s a shallow one. Anger is a reactive, surface emotion, indicative of a deeper emotional issue. The important thing is that it not be embraced and nurtured. Feeding anger keeps attention away from that deeper issue- and that’s the part that needs to be nurtured and healed.

  2. Mandy says:

    Hi Tara, I agree with you – anger is a real emotion but it masks the more meaningful emotion that needs to be understood. For example, you can be angry that your spouse lied to you but perhaps the real reason you’re angry is that you’ve been enabling his behavior and that’s where the real growth is.

    Keep exploring Tara, it isn’t easy but it is rewarding.

  3. Rachel says:

    “Anger flirts with me. When it shows up, it dazzles me with its promises of power and righteousness. It whispers in my ear, “You’re correct. You’re justified… Now c’mon, let’s have some fun together!” Sometimes I want to pull it close and hold on.” I love this. It expresses what we’ve all felt but are often unwilling to acknowledge. It feels so GOOD to be angry – but it doesn’t, really. I love your view of anger. It doesn’t do any good to suppress it or deny it, nor is it productive to wrap ourselves up in it. It exists, but needs to be dealt with and overcome. Kudos to you for how you are approaching it. Don’t let anyone talk you down to their level. You’re a good example for all the rest of us trying to overcome our respective flavors of anger.

    • Thanks. It does feel good, doesn’t it? It makes you feel powerful during times when you might otherwise feel weak. For this reason, it can be addictive, like a drug.

      We are all, ultimately, alone (and what a jagged little pill that is). It behooves us to know ourselves, to observe, understand and…eventually, heal. That’s the process where true strength and power originate.

  4. jobo says:

    Exploring the why behind the anger…I never really thought about it that way. I am glad the exploration is helpful, and I still firmly believe we gotta allow our feelings, even if they may not feel as rationale (all the time) as we’d like them to be! (not saying you aren’t rationale, I hope you know what I mean!)

  5. I think anger gets a bad rap. It’s as valid an emotion as any other. If you feel angry, then let yourself feel angry, for goodness’ sake! I wholeheartedly agree that it is a good idea to dig deeper and see what emotions are hiding underneath the anger, and I agree that anger isn’t a healthy place to set up camp and wallow awhile, and I think it is crucial to prevent yourself from acting from a place of anger. But if you want or need to feel angry? FEEL ANGRY! For me, anyway, ignoring the anger or pretending it is invalid or worthless doesn’t accomplish anything. For me, the only way past it is through it, which means letting myself acknowledge it and feel it, and then trying to find a way to be done with it.

  6. sonia says:

    I have no problem with feeling anger, defined by the first commenter as “a strong feeling of displeasure and belligerence aroused by a wrong.” To me, the existence of anger means that a person can discriminate between decent behavior and bad behavior. By bad behavior, I mean lying, cheating, and exposing your partner to disease, not to mention looking at your wife of 20+ years and the mother of your children with cold, dead eyes as she experiences the shock and pain of discovery. Bad behavior also means selfishly throwing the well-being of one’s children to one side in one’s haste to ditch family life and start a new childfree life.

    I use my anger to remind me that my ex is not my friend, and to be on my guard around him. He has hurt me enough, and I won’t permit any further insult or disrespect. If it were not for me having our two children to raise, I would forget him entirely. As it is, I depend on him for support, as is my right. I am raising the children without him, by his choice. My anger served me well during our divorce negotiations. He knew what he did was completely wrong, and he knew that I knew it, and our respective attorneys knew it, not to mention the Family Court Commissioner. That awareness spelled justice for me in the final settlement (done in settlement conference, not in court).

    IMO, it’s OK to feel angry when a great wrong has been committed. I’m still angry at Nixon for the crimes CREEP committed in his name, and the cynical cover-up attempts by his disgusting cronies. (I’m dating myself here.) I’m still angry at G.W. Bush for starting two pointless, illegal wars that cost far too many precious human lives, and maimed so many more.

    It’s OK to feel angry at people who have caused harm to others. If we don’t remember history (our own and others’), how can we avoid repeating it?

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