Last Sunday, I was being driven back to the train station after visiting some friends, my bag full of roast to take home.
On the way we hit some traffic. It is London after all!
We started talking about the different responses traffic brings out in people:
I start cooing the other drivers, my friend sings out of boredom, but my other friend talks of intense anger management issues, screaming and shouting at the cars.
This got us thinking, anger is nothing more than being stuck perpetually in our fight response!
“How much more grievous are the
consequences of anger than the causes of it.”
– Marcus Aurelius
Anger by itself is just a feeling, not an action.
Personally, I have found anger incredibly healing.
Everyone encounters trauma in their life, and in my case anger was not beneficial when growing up. Talking back got me in trouble, whereas disassociating kept me safe.
Rediscovering anger has therefore given me back agency.
If anger and confronting danger however is what protecting you in traumatic times, you might be much more inclined towards it.
And sometimes, practical tips like these will not be enough to heal your soul from it.
“My mother’s psychologist says I have an overactive anger switch, but people just keep pissing me off.”
– Meg Cabot
Anger once felt but not expressed will fester inside of us, coming out in drops.
In the moment, we won’t understand that our feelings are real, but not valid.
We will so strongly resent the driver in front of us, our partner, the person in the news, that we cannot see how we’re overreacting.
Our anger is old, only the apparent cause is new (and irrelevant really).
If you are feeling stuck in a fight or flight response, reverse engineering might help you.
“Sensitive people usually love deeply and hate deeply.
They don’t know any other way to live than by extremes because their emotional thermostat is broken.”
– Shannon L. Alder
This quote describes a romantic notion of the empath, but in my experience self-declared empaths are usually codependent and/or have boundary issues (counting myself amongst them).
If you find yourself quick to get angry or feel deep love, you will constantly be living in one self-imposed crisis after another.
Life will be dramatic instead of stable.
Safety might even bore us if we equated it with danger in the past!
So solving superficial issues like taking the bike to avoid sitting in traffic is not going to solve the actual cause that we’re trying to mask with our outbursts.
While my own anger issues are so much better, I still find them creeping out in form of impatience with others during meetings. I also am quick to cut people out once I have made up my mind, and sometimes I wonder if I’m letting anger run the show.
How do you deal with occasional, unhealthy anger?