6/19/15

You Make me Angry

When I was an awkward teenager, many, many years ago, I had a self-revelation as I was yelling at one of my little brothers. I don't remember why I was mad at him (if you've had siblings-and I had five-you know there are myriad reasons to be mad at them, and I do know the definition of myriad). I remember how he was looking at me this particular time. He was fearful. I decided I had to do something to get my anger under control because my brother shouldn't fear me. It was a turning point for me and a meaningful experience. I focused my energy on keeping a calm head when I got upset. Soon, I would slide through difficult situations while shaking my head at other, hot-headed people who would fly off the handle. 

People who know me may be surprised by this story because I am a generally laid-back person.

Let me stress, I was not an angry child, or at least not abnormally angry. When you think about all the changes teenagers are going through (hormones, self-identity, etc.), I was pretty normal in my anger. In fact, everyone gets angry, upset, or otherwise twisted-up pretty often.

I hold two Masters degrees that have given me a deep understanding of humans and how they work. Unfortunately, the technical details of a dozen theories of counseling psychology and other fields gets in the way of understanding anger on a personal level, so I'm going to make it personal:

You make me angry.

Yes, you. 

One of the things I regularly hear from parents is that their child needs help with "anger issues." It's an interesting request. Anger is a natural emotion, just like happiness, but I've never been approached to help a child with "happiness issues."  Of course, I'm being pedantic. What a parent really seem to be requesting is that I help the child with controlling how they manage and show anger. I have tools to help with those, but this discussion is not about them, it is about you. And, as I said, you make me angry.

What is it that makes a person angry in the first place? You could go online and read lots of theories and long-winded explanations about anger, enough to make you give up on the research. Let me help, the main cause, the number one thing on the what-causes-anger list, is (sound the trumpets) unmet expectations. But I can take it a step further, it is the unmet expectations of other people that make us angry most of the time. 

Think of the last few times you were upset, when the issue or situation you were mad about kept swirling through your mind. I bet it wasn't a broken coffee pot that kept you up at night, it was something another human did. Sure you can be mad at yourself, but that is rare in comparison to being mad at others.

So, if it's not me that make me angry, it must be you.

I can think of no place this comes up more often than on Facebook. Now that I have a load of "friends" I don't really know, thanks to my being involved in authoring circles, I get to see lots of opinions I don't personally agree with. Several times I have started to call out people on posts I believe ill-informed. I never submit the comments...well, almost never. I get angry (you might say irritated, but that is a level of anger, too), I let the emotion have it's time, and I let it go faster than Elsa running away from Arendelle.

I think that's pretty healthy and I hope it is something more people start doing. Social media is devolving into petty spats over micro-issues and our culture is suffering for it.

Good news, I'm over it and I am no longer angry at you. Cheers.


Note: If you have a found this page and are looking for expert help with anger, please consider seeing a medical professional: doctor, therapist, psychiatrist, or psychologist. These people are trained to help in ways outstandingly better than getting your information from a blog post.



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