So, I know you have a long day ahead of you. And the fact you are reading this means that you are looking for something. For the next few articles ( or until I want to write something else), we are going to focus on a word or phrase, and we are going to break that word down and into something digestible. You are going to internalize this word, utilizing it as fuel when your energy is low, or when you feel overwhelmed.
This is not to just to increase your vocabulary, but to strengthen your self -awareness, and encourage positive paradigm shifts. So you ready? Of course you are!
When was the last time you were angry? I mean, really, really angry.
You probably getting angry just thinking about it huh?
Well, obviously you are familiar with the emotion. Remember in kindergarten when they asked you to point out the angry face and it was always the one painted red and looked like he had a bone to pick with the artist that put him there?
But what about the word? What does anger actually mean? “The emotion anger, also known as wrath, or rage, is an intense emotional state. It involves strong uncomfortable and hostile response to a perceived provocation, hurt, or threat.”*
That word ‘perceived’ is important. We will get back to that.
Another important definition: “the inability to process emotions or life experiences.”
This is anger. And it hasn’t changed much from its original Old Norse origins, angra; “ to annoy, provoke, to irritate.” A generation down the line ( give or take), and we see the Middle Dutch enghe, the suffixed form of root angh- get this- “ tight, painfully constricted.”
When was the last time you were angry or rather, “tight and painfully constricted?”….
I have a personal definition for you, one that may resonate with you. Anger is what happens when we cannot satisfy provocation or threat with any readily available solutions. Our perception (I told you we would get back to it) of the threat doesn’t seem to have any answers. The important thing here is that your anger is tied directly to your perception.
So maybe the emphasis shouldn’t be on controlling your anger…but changing your perception. Seems easier said than done. Here are two questions to consider:
Is this a threat to me?
Is this a threat to someone I love?
Anger is not a bad word. In fact, anger sharpens our focus, raises our adrenaline, and allows us to respond to threats in real time. The problem (usually) is how we define threats.
LeBron James being better than Michael Jordan makes some people MAD. If you are over 40, you might be slightly triggered now. But why? We are talking about two men who bounced a rubber sphere and tossed in through a metal circle.
WHY are you mad? What do you think is being threaten?
Could it be that your identity is to closely tied to things that really don’t matter? Or that you see being wrong as a personal attack? (LeBron is better by the way).
So the provocation is understandable. You grew up with Michael Jordan. You have memories tied to his championships. But then you see LeBron’s stats…and it’s hard to satisfy your thinking Michael Jordan is the best with the facts at hand. Michael Jordan doesn’t need to be the best to be your favorite player. Or does he?
So now you feel attacked. What you really did was take something and made it personal. But what if you reminded yourself that these are two millionaires who could care less about your feelings, one way or the other? When I throw THAT fact in the debate, people tend to sober up. The sudden change in perspective (usually) quiets the misplaced passion.
Next time when you’re feeling angry, see if you can change your perception before you blow up. Where is the threat? If you can’t find it, don’t try to justify.
Here is the thing. It is OK to NOT be angry! No need to take irritation to a ten. Don’t get me wrong, I do believe that a person can’t control their emotions. We feel how we feel.
However, you do have control over your perception. What is a threat exactly?
Why are you angry?
Whatever is the first thing that came to me in that moment is usually the wrong answer, or an incomplete one. Identify the threat. Train yourself to not let emotions be the deciding factor. Emotions are self-centered by nature. They should not be trusted to determine interactions.
It’s ok to be angry. Maturity demands that you check your perception before caving in to your wrath.
*Parker Hall, 2008, Anger, Rage and Relationship: An Empathic Approach to Anger Management