On justifiable temper tantrums….

For some time now, I’ve been thinking about anger…bitterness…these sorts of things.

Anger is probably the easiest emotion to feel, yet also probably the least productive. Why is that? Why is it so easy to feel angry? I’ve long believed that it’s easy because it’s secondary. There’s always another emotion lying just below anger. Whatever that is, it’s probably a lot harder to deal with, put a name on, or face that just being pissed off.

And while it feels good to get mad, to fly off in a fit of rage, it feels that much more out-of-control. Any time I’ve ever gone into full-blown rage (which is rare, but ugly), it’s like having an out-of-body experience. I feel like I’m watching a weird version of myself doing and saying things that the rational me would never do or say. What is THAT about? Anger essentially takes over me, thereby transferring whatever power and control I have to the person/situation/whatever that has sent me there.

According to Verne Kallejian, PhD, “Being irrationally angry solves nothing. You are just indulging yourself with a childish temper tantrum.” Oh, burn. As a grown-up, being called a child is nothing short of offensive. No one wants to be accused of immaturity or childishness. We’ve all heard stories of what parents do to their child in the midst of a tantrum. Some of them pick the child up like a football and exit immediately. Some point and laugh. Some spank. Whatever the consequence, it’s never pretty and almost always embarrassing (usually for the parent, but sometimes for the child).

As adults, we have slightly different and more mature coping mechanisms for when something makes us angry. But what if the provoking situation is SO unbelievable that the only available reaction is anger…rage…hatred…eventual bitterness? I have found myself in this very conundrum. And it’s a very lonely, solitary place. You cannot make another person feel anger for you. You can just be angry and hope that they’ll either sympathize or empathize and make some attempt at understanding. But when you’re angry, it’s all you. Only you. Only me.

I know I have to move past anger when I’m there. It feels good, momentarily anyway. It also makes me feel incredibly defensive. I’m not sure why. I shouldn’t really have to justify being angry that someone has so horribly wronged me or that something was done to me that’s nigh on unforgivable. Yes, there are moments when I’ve been unnecessarily pissed off. I’ve tripped up the stairs or the dogs have scratched my legs or my computer isn’t connecting to the internet quickly enough. None of these things warrant anger, much less excessive anger. But I fully believe that some situations both warrant and necessitate anger in its purest form. Righteous anger, I like to call it.

Anger is lonely. No one can pull you out of your anger but you. There’s a phrase I used to tell the girls I mentored many years ago: You have to want to want to change, then you have to want to change, then you change.

It’s that simple. Well, simple on paper anyway. Putting all that into action takes a bit more gumption. Especially when the “change” you want is just plain ol’ forgetfulness. I just want to forget what made me angry. I can’t pretend nothing happened, but if I could forget about it, it would be far less consuming. And I could blow-dry my hair in peace again.

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