I am tired of angry people.
You know that grumpy person in your family or friend circle that is always upset or on edge about something? I think this behaviour has gone on long enough, and I am speaking out about it today. There is this uncomfortable undercurrent of prickliness that some of us live with day in and day out, within our families and our workplaces, and no matter how drawn we are to peace, there is the angry person watching from the sidelines, just waiting for a chance to explode, or to make a sarcastic comment, or to huff and puff like a little child throwing a tantrum.
Well, this is my tantrum!
Please think twice, angry people, before you slam your way into our spaces. Please take a few deep breaths, calm down, and think it over before the words come barreling out of your mouth. Please notice how the people around you shrink away, how their body language freezes, how everyone starts avoiding eye contact when you walk in.
Now, this is not about scape-goating. We don’t want to re-traumatize you by shunning you the way the neighborhood kids did. But here is the truth: people with chronic anger (also called rage-aholics) are not dealing effectively with their inner world. How can it be that over a slight error in driving, people are screaming out their car windows? Why are mothers slapping their kids in grocery stores when all the kid wants is some attention? Why is it that any little thing can set an angry person off? And anger doesn’t always look like the Hollywood depictions. There are also the underhanded, mean-spirited, eye-rolling angry people that just give off the vibe of “watch out or else”. Don’t think you can fool us, we know you are just as angry as the screamers and the shouters!
I have worked with many people who came in as angry people, and as we dug deeper, we found out that under anger lies hurt. Under hurt, lies sadness and despair.
If you go deep enough, past the tantrum and the blame, there is a little scared kid in there that believes he or she is alone.
Digging that deep takes commitment, and a skilled guide. I have witnessed “anger work” in group settings that is simply indulgence and drama, with no real healing or resolution. But when we can move past the dramatics, what we realize about anger is that when we can learn to cope with it effectively, it becomes a source of passion, and actually adds to our personal power.
Have you ever seen an artist in the middle of a creative moment? The precision, the concentration, and the wild, unbridled passion all come together in a single moment of creative release. Suddenly, something that was only there in the mind of the artist takes shape as a play, a painting, a poem, a dance. If you are angry, a good option is to start including something creative into your daily routine. It could be as simple as a few minutes of singing along to your favorite songs on your drive to work, or writing in your journal for a few minutes every day. Physical activity also helps to release some of the energy of anger that gets trapped in the body, which is why so many teenage boys are drawn to sports as a way to “let off some steam”.
The other way to wean yourself off anger is to create a peaceful environment. Do you listen to angry music and watch angry movies? Is the “news” (worldwide death, destruction, exploitation, and tragedy) the last thing you see before going to bed or the first thing you wake up to in the morning? If this is how you live, you are training your mind to believe that explosive anger is okay and acceptable, and you will eventually get desensitized to how your expressions of anger impact your loved ones. Do you yell, use aggressive gestures, and slam around when you are stressed out? Any children in your home will be getting the message that it’s okay to act crazy when you are mad. Studies on bullying show that when children feel bullied in the home (by siblings, but more importantly by parents), they are more likely to perpetuate the cycle of bullying at school.
So the anger ends with you, today.
If not, you have just made the decision to become part of the problem. There is no way we are going to have world peace if we can’t even deal with a physiological reaction that lasts a maximum of four minutes! If you are angry for longer than that, it is because you are adding fuel to your own mental fire.
The choice is yours – stay angry or join the rest of us in a world that thrives in happiness, joy, and peace.