Anger could be humanity’s mental Achilles’ heel and undoing
The main error is embedded in many languages as if someone else could anger you. “He pressed my buttons.” Unless you’re a dishwasher, that’s impossible. The only, sole, rare individual who can make you angry is you.
This statement of reality is not to heap blame or guilt onto you but to empower you. With training, only you will decide if you’d get angry.
The most popular excuse to make ourselves angry is because we’re facing off with someone angry. “He began.” So what?
We often excuse (sometimes subconsciously) generating anger based on the assumption that the other “easily could have done better.” Yet, this is never true. Humans, if they could have, they would have done better. (Free Will is not that we could have done better but that we should have.)
“Every single human being, taking the whole situation into account, has always done the very best that she or he could do and so deserves neither blame nor reproach from anyone, including self. This, in particular, is true of you.” Scroll text by Harvey Jackins, 70 years ago. (This doesn’t mean you should not run from a violent person if you’re a people pleaser.)
We often make ourselves angry to feel powerful. Someone really downtrodden can be helped by getting a little angry. Yet, that feeling is also addictive; it feels nice. When you feel the urge, ask yourself: Are you really powerless? Stay calm and you’ll have all the power in the world.
We only wish to hurt others to feel a feeling of power (Remember, no one is more powerful than someone who can contain himself) or to force the cosmos to admit the injustice of our pain. We only want to hurt ourselves to numb our pain. Inflicted damage is always an unintended side effect.
It is easier to mend our ways when we’re not angry at ourselves about our anger. Forgive yourself. Then it becomes easier and doable to appease our victims and rebuild what we destroyed against our own best wishes.
We often exaggerate when we imagine that otherwise, no one will believe us. Then, anger easily becomes part of the mix.
Anger is an easy emotion. Especially, when we refuse to feel vulnerable.
People easily mishear others when they want to make themselves angry subconsciously. “I heard that you said it.” But, we can only know what we heard, not what was said, unless we’re a voice recorder.
Most of our distress we generate (unawarely) with the excuse that things in the present somewhat resemble traumas from our past we want to heal from. This can spell disaster when we don’t understand that what’s wrong lies in the past, not the now. But this can go really wrong with anger because it can be so destructive.
The Rabbis call anger the denial of G^d because we act as if we could have done better than what G^d served. Tell this to your children and students. It will help you eventually to give up on anger. It’s our kids’ job to show us how good we are (not yet) at not getting angry. (I don’t mean keeping in anger, but not getting angry at all.) Don’t punish them for doing their job.
When we ignore our feelings, they pile up and eventually burst forth. Instead of believing or ignoring our feelings, look at them slightly amused.
In anger, we are bound to do things we would never have done if we would have thought for a moment. So, the Catholic tradition advises us to count to ten before doing or saying something when we’re angry. The Rabbis say: “Every sin is done in an atmosphere of folly.” People don’t sin because they are bad but because they don’t think.
There might be a fundamental and important difference between blind, violent anger and non-violent, righteous indignation. The first threatens: “If you dare …, I’ll …” The second tries to prevent: “Don’t you dare.”
If with one swipe of a magic wand, we could remove all anger from the globe, 99% of all the world’s problems would have been solved.
When it’s hard not to get angry, cry. That’s almost always far less destructive. Also, there is no better insurance policy against making yourself angry than making yourself happy. Anger easily has all kinds of destructive derivates like shouting, name-calling, intimidation, beating, destroying, etc. Happiness has opposite derivates like humbleness, love, respect, acceptance, satisfaction, humor, etc. Have your pick!
There are angry people who are heavily oppressed. When they explode, they speak the truth; although at first, they may exaggerate. But if you listen empathically and don’t argue back, they will self-correct.
Then there are angry people who just rehearse oppressive stuff. Typically, you cannot snap such an angry person out of his absent-minded rage. What you could try is to change the tone or focus. Instead of the expected accusation: You shouldn’t be so violent, cheerfully asking: What have you been drinking? Or, instead of defending yourself, focus on him: I’m sorry it hurts so much. Or, amplifying his exaggerations: It’s not bad; it’s terrible!
Don’t engage with a furious person if that may increase the danger to you.
Double the Trouble
We created a double problem when we’re first making ourselves angry at someone and then blame them for ‘making us angry.’
People who ‘got’ angry are often so ashamed of it that they must blame others because that’s the only way they see to stay dignified and innocent so they double down instead of talking it out.
People attacked a lot as a child sometimes become grownups chronically on the defense/in attack mode. And then, vulnerable people remind them of their young innocent selves, which will entice them to let their old anger complete the picture. They still feel the victim and don’t notice that now it’s them who are actually re-victimizing people probably earlier victimized.
We could calm down in seconds and then deny how much hurt we caused. While, a few seconds of anger could cause a lifetime of trauma in victims. “It makes a difference on which side of the hitting stick you are.”
Publicly violent men in Israel
What is happening to my country? Spoiler alert: I have no idea. It never was like this here.
Patients and their families beating up hospital staff.
Passengers beating up bus drivers.
Road rage (in one case even deadly).
I want these men profiled. To know from where this comes. 99.999% of all men are not like that. From where comes this epidemic of anger?