Anger is one of the six basic emotions. It can take form as frustration, irritability, or even a short tempered response (only naming a few). Although classified as basic, this emotion should be noted as also having potential to be very disruptive. Constantly feeling anger or projecting anger out into the world can cause inner and outer turmoil. Chronic forms of anger often and eventually lead to regrettable actions or even forms of hate. Attempting to bring a different perspective to this emotion, even though potentially disruptive, at the root, most times this emotion just seems as it is classified, as simply basic.
While the emotion can be very powerful, often anger felt in a moment, is not always the true emotion at the root of the matter. In many cases, I wonder if the emotion anger is ever truly authentic. After all, it is easy to get angry, to loose your temper, let your emotions erupt in a moment, or play the victim. It is easy to do all of these things. Anger may actually be the easiest emotion to feel and emit. In a society that loves to suppress and lock away emotions, for some reason anger doesn’t always fall into that category. Anger does not usually hide and is constantly taking form all around us. This is fascinating to me. Why is it so difficult to feel (and express) sadness, grief, guilt, fear, shame or hurt? Many spend years in therapy trying to get in touch with these deeper emotions. But yet, anger can be expressed within seconds? Seemingly, feeling anger is just an easier emotion to deal with. It is an emotion that acts now and regrets later. Of course our society would be more accepting of quick angry outbursts. We all want everything done yesterday, patience is an ancient value. Taking a moment to get in touch with all the emotions you are feeling is just too complicated, scary, and time consuming for many.
In a previous blog post, I discussed suppressing emotions and the havoc and confusion it can cause on the body. The chaos created when you suppress emotions often leads to angry outbursts, simply because the body forgets when and for what the old emotions were created for. My challenge to you, is attempt to dig behind the anger mask and seek out what is truly there. Perhaps you are dealing with fear, sadness, self consciousness, betrayal, or even feeling slighted about something? When dealing with more complicated emotions, it is easier to wear the anger mask rather than confront the emotions at the root.
Remember, it is easy to get angry, and it can happen in a moment. Just ask the guy driving behind you who is honking his horn and waving his fist the very second the light turns green. Now, is that a reasonable response? Let’s think beyond the picture painted. Perhaps this person is flustered about the fight they had with their significant other right as they were leaving for work that has now caused them to be late? Perhaps they are sad about their young child asking them for the first time to stay home and not to go to work today? Perhaps they are feeling self conscious or anxious about driving to a job where they are mentally abused by a horrible boss, and this is the only time of the day they feel they have all the power? Course, nothing excuses useless displays of road rage, but if you imagine beyond the obvious, there are endless possibilities of deeper rooted emotions in this very common scenario. All of which I bet you never considered. Let’s go one step further…how do you react? Do you get angry, flip the bird, or perhaps even have your own moment of road rage? Is your angry reaction due to feeling rushed or being forced to do something you were not ready to do? Is your ego insulted that someone was criticizing your break to gas pedal movement quickness? Only kidding about that last one! Whatever your reaction, I doubt you are truly angry with this complete stranger. Flustered and annoyed maybe, but anger with someone who you didn’t even speak with seems a bit silly. Regardless, the incident happened, and it happened so quickly that the only emotion that could keep up was anger.
An emotion that is ready to react within a moments notice is simply what fits in today’s world. However, constantly ignoring the root of these angry outbursts can lead to an abundance of chronic anger, that may eventually lead to hate. It is a dangerous emotion that occurs so quickly it can be blinding (think blind rage) and downright cruel. Sadly, once that rage is over and your body has returned to homeostasis, the damage has already been done. Then comes the tricky bit, are you embarrassed by your reaction and don’t quite understand what caused you to react so poorly? Does this shameful behavior just cause you to hide further behind the anger mask, or do you welcome the apologetic opportunity. It is easy to continue to wear that mask. The most difficult thing to do, is to look into a mirror and see what is truly behind your reflection (ego). Deciding to take ownership and then learn from our mistakes is how we evolve and grow. Continuously hiding from what’s truly going on within is no challenge, and therefore no lesson. So again, I challenge you, next time you feel some anger brewing take a moment to look within. Stare deeply at your reflection and study what is staring back at you. You might be surprised with the sadness, grief and inner anxieties you have sitting there waiting to be addressed. Remove the mask, introduce yourself to each emotion, and let the lessons begin.
Stay Health, Warm & Zen xoxo