I grew up in an angry, chaotic childhood. I traveled around an angry, chaotic world. I’ve been employed in angry, chaotic workplaces. I’ve lived in an angry, chaotic marriage. The one common element? Me. And the world at large.
Have you ever known a truly calm, peaceful, unflappable person? A person who doesn’t let anger creep into their lives, who lives life in harmony with themselves and others. I haven’t. Everyone seems to be living in his or her own personal hell.
There always seems to be a reason to be angry. Oh, he cut me off, the bastard. Oh, my boss is a jerk, the bastard. Oh, my workload is so unfair, those bastards. Oh, my life is hell and I am going to blame the whole world, you bastards. Oh, life is so hard for me while it’s so easy for everyone else, those bastards.
People walk around thinking everyone else is the enemy. The politicians, the economists, the terrorists, the intelligence agencies, the countries that populate the world. Anger is fear. Fear that someone else is going to hurt us or take something away from us. Fear that our circumstances will never change. Fear that we are alone in the world, without support and without love. They say that love makes the world go ‘round but that seems unrealistic. It seems that anger makes the world go ‘round. And that’s not a good thing.
Angry people make stupid choices. Angry people are so busy being self-righteous that they don’t see anything good in the world. They are crippled by unreasonableness. Everything and everyone is a target for their anger – why should anyone else be happy when I’m not? they ask themselves. Bitter, vindictive people go out of their way to spread their fear and paranoia.
Anger is like a contagious virus. I see it on the 401 Highway in Toronto, the busiest highway in North America. One person, apparently having a bad day, cuts off another motorist and flips him the bird. The second motorist responds by becoming angry and starts driving more aggressively, cutting other people off. Pretty soon, the 401 becomes an arena for gladiator road warriors. The 401 is crazy and so are most of the people who drive it. Because of this, I drive very defensively in Toronto – too many people having too many bad days, doing too many reckless things. I try to be aware of what is happening 100 meters behind, ahead and to the side of me (the 401 is 16 lanes wide – there’s a lot of space for aggression).
I turn on the news and everyone is angry. I go onto news websites and all the comments on all the stories are angry. I speak to people who seem ready to explode with anger – those ones scare me.
Anger is a natural emotion. Angry responses are each person’s choice. None of this but you did this wrong so I’m pissed off with you and I’m going to demonstrate how angry I am – I have no control over my emotions – you made me do it. No personal responsibility, no integrity whatsoever. Well, you may not have control over your emotions, but you do have control over what you do with your emotions. We all do, but rarely do we see people exercising control over themselves. They just erupt like Mount Vesuvius and rain their rage down on everyone within spitting range.
After I left my ex, I was angry. I was angry about how I let him treat me. I was angry with him. I was angry with me. I was angry that he took my piano out of spite (he didn’t play but he didn’t want me to have it because he was angry that I was leaving him). But anger doesn’t help me. Anger eats you up. Unfortunately, it doesn’t spit you out; it devours you until your whole existence is one of chaos and turmoil.
I have been learning how to let go of anger. It hasn’t been an easy process. I’ve had to cut some things out of my life such as news reports and negative, angry people. Driving in Toronto used to be a real problem anger-wise for me – so instead of reacting to the stupid things people do, I sing at the top of my lungs in the car and let it go. I don’t have to take on someone else’s anger. I’ve talked to people who are in my life, who will always be in my life, and explained how their anger affects me.
I am an emotional sponge, something I am working on not being. I suck up negative emotions around me very easily. So now, I work on controlling whom I come in contact with. Yes, I have de-friended a couple of people on Facebook, who only seemed to spew and stew with anger. I don’t need this garbage in my life.
I meditate. I try to concentrate on the positive instead of the negative. I don’t always succeed but at least I am aware of my shortcomings and I work on my issues to understand why I’m feeling what I’m feeling. Walking around angry without knowing why you feel like crap is no way to live a life. And your body knows this – anger causes stress hormones to flood your system and you become prone to all sorts of health problems.
I think many of us are angry because of the pace of life these days. Between jobs, family and friends, we’re loaded down with more than we can handle. I think at least a partial solution to this problem is to simplify one’s life as much as possible. No, your kids do not have to be in some sort of organized activity seven days a week, requiring you to be licensed as a taxi driver. No, you don’t have to do everything yourself – you can ask for and require help. No, you don’t have to be perfect. No, you don’t have to have everything your way. No, you don’t have to walk around angry.
Even simple things, like your physical environment, are important. If your physical environment is messy, then it affects you emotionally. Try to pare down what you have. What do you really need? What are the things that are just getting in your way and bogging you down? Make a distinction between wants and needs. Yes, I would like to buy that cute pair of shoes and a few hundred dollars worth of books, but do I NEED to? No. I don’t need another pair of shoes, I don’t need more books and I don’t need more STUFF that I forget about as soon as I buy it.
And I definitely don’t want to go to the mall where there is temptation to buy stuff everywhere. Have you ever noticed that people in malls have this glazed look in their eyes? You know. The “I must buy something or die” look. They gaze longingly through shop windows at some item they’ll wear or use twice and then never look at again. Mall people are especially bad at Christmas because they get aggressive. They wait until the last possible moment and then desperately run around angry and upset. This is why I don’t go into malls between November 15th and January 15th – those people are crazy.
At any rate, anger is yours to deal with. You can let it eat you up or you learn how to deal with it constructively. Your choice. I’ve made mine.