What makes you feel angry? What is anger? Do you ever feel angry?
I’ve never considered myself as someone who’s quick to anger. This has not always been the case though, as a much younger man, feelings of anger, were quite common.
“There are times nowadays when I feel like I’ve come full circle. As an older man, I’ve become quick to anger once again, however, there is a difference”
Previously I’ve become enraged and not really fully understood why. When I look back now, I can clearly remember times of anger. From drunken punch-ups in the street, to punching holes in hollow doors, I’ve certainly experienced it. Yet now, I become angry, at very specific things. The anger is controlled (I don’t punch holes in doors) and drink has absolutely nothing to do with it. I no longer do drugs.
To help explain my point, I can share with you an interesting experience I had with anger. It was about six or seven years ago driving home from the airport in the early hours of the morning. I’d just spent a disastrous week away in Croatia with a lady friend of mine.
On the drive I’d nearly fallen asleep several times through exhaustion. On reflection I now understand that I was exhausted through keeping my anger in check. Such was my rage at the time, I worried what might happen, if I let it out. It was important I keep it under control and it was exhausting me.
The lady in question had spent the last few days of the holiday giving me the cold shoulder. The reason for this I’ll explain later, suffice to say her behaviour was irrational and manipulative. In being quiet and aloof, I understood it for what it was: Manipulation. I’d been, and on the drive home, was still being manipulated, through her silence.
“In her state of suppressed anger, my lady friend, instead of having it out with me, so to speak, had decided the best policy, was silence”
To add to this she’d moved out of our hotel room to find a separate one of her own. For the last four days of the holiday it was as if I didn’t exist. The silence in the car on the drive home was just as palpable. I wasn’t going to allow myself to be manipulated and it was exhausting me. Going into a rage would have enabled her to take away my power. I would have been expressing her anger; her fear.
The whole incident, and reason for the ruined holiday, was a rather off the cuff comment I’d made, about her erratic and extreme reaction to wasps. There were wasps everywhere. Every time one was spotted, my companion would jump around swatting and ducking in a panicked, irrational manner. We couldn’t, at any point on the holiday, eat outside. Not good in a Croatian summer.
My intention all along had been to help put her fear into perspective. So to apologise, for drawing her attention to the irrationality of her behaviour, would have also taken my power. Power she needed to defend her irrational behaviour.
“There is no flaw in being afraid, yet sometimes the fear is irrational. Swat at a wasp, for example, and you’ve more chance of getting stung. Leave it alone and it will do the same. Simple”
Anyway, back to the drive home from the airport. I’ve never experienced fatigue in quite the same way before, or since, this incident. After thinking about this for some time, I now fully understand why. The energy I needed, to hold on to the rage I felt, at being manipulated, was so intense, it was draining me to the point of exhaustion. It’s energy was vast.
Nowadays I have a far better understanding of these things, and so realise, as soon as someone exhibits this kind of behaviour, all I need do, is make them aware of it. Once someone realises you know their game, they tend to give it up, or find another strategy to manipulate you with. What that other strategy might be, is a whole different matter, and subject for another post entirely.
And so, being quick to anger is fine, as long as we understand the reason behind it. When this is the case, we’re better able to direct it at a specific target, in order to protect ourselves and get our needs respected. In other words, and continuing with the example of my holiday, everything could have been quickly resolved, if I’d simply used my anger to confront the situation, head on.
This is the exact dialogue that I ought to have used:
“Your silence is manipulative and I understand your fear.”
Pinpoint anger, is the power to get your needs met. I needed energy to drive us home safely, not to repress my confused rage. Along with that need all I wanted was to drop her off at her flat and never see her again. If I’d crashed the car – something my lady friend had experienced with a previous boyfriend – it could have killed us both.
“Anger, may well be the power to save your life, and that of others”
Let’s hope for some happy summer holidays guys.