"From this hour I ordain myself loos'd of limits and imaginary lines, going where I list, my own master total and absolute, Listening to others, considering well what they say, Pausing, searching, receiving, contemplating, Gently, but with undeniable will, divesting myself of the holds that would hold me."
Walt Whitman (1819-92)
"When I look back now over my life and call to mind what I might have had simply for taking and did not take, my heart is like to break."
Akhenaton (d. c.1354 BC)
And now, the current weather, from some random person we pulled off the street:
Tuesday, June 22, 2004
rage Function: noun
Etymology: Middle English, from Old French, from Late Latin rabia, from Latin rabies rage, madness, from rabere to be mad; akin to Sanskrit rabhas violence
1 a : violent and uncontrolled anger b : a fit of violent wrath c archaic : INSANITY
2 : violent action (as of wind or sea)
3 : an intense feeling : PASSION
4 : a mood swing, sometimes
Today, I am reasonably calm. That wasn't always the case.
Even now, there is a lot of stress flying around and I have to make an effort to stay this way. Some of the other people here are not quite as successful at it, to say the least.
Anger and frustration brings out the worst in those who can't handle it. And in those such as myself, when our mood cycles and fires up our emotional intensity to heights or depths undreamed of by ordinary people, we can explode like a cherry bomb in a tissue box.
I just visited Deneice's blog, one that I visit regularly, and she had an interesting list of what she referred to as "whacko beliefs" about anger:
1. I am bad if I am angry
2. Being angry means being out of control
3. It is MY fault so I have no reason to be angry
4. Nice people don't get angry
5. Bad things happen when people get angry
6. The consequences will be worse if I show my anger
You know, when I look at these some of them are actually more true than she thinks.
1. I am bad if I am angry. This statement suffers, I think, from a lack of clarity. Being angry isn't bad, even God gets angry. yielding to our anger, in many cases, may cause actions that are damaging and not well thought out. That is bad.
2. Being angry means being out of control. Again, the same as above. Being angry is not out of control. Yielding to it and flying off the handle is. But sometimes, it's OK and correct to be angry.
3. It is MY fault so I have no reason to be angry. Well, when you have a broken thinker like mine, this thought occurs more than I would like. And sometimes it is true. If it is, then I need to stop being angry and go fix something. If not, then I need to accept reality and go from there. Of course, that ain't always easy, is it?
4. Nice people don't get angry. Well, that depends on where you sit them. Sit them in a frustrating environment or next to a blathering idiot, they will get angry. Give them a problem beyond their control, they will get angry. Insult them, they will get angry. That's only human.
5. Bad things happen when people get angry Not always. Sometimes, channeling anger can produce some really, really good results. Where would we be today if the patriots had not gotten angry in Boston and dumped all the tea into the harbor? It all depends on what one is angry at and how one reacts to it. On the flip side, of course, is 9/11.
6. The consequences will be worse if I show my anger Yes and no. If I am angry at a person unreasonably, this might in fact be true. If this person is initiating a confrontation with me, there are situations where showing anger could in fact help.
Now, like I said earlier, I am not always calm. Sometimes I get so mad it feels like a white hot liquid coursing through my veins and I can almost watch the sweat pop out on my furrowed brow (given a mirror, of course.) I think that at times we all experience anger like that.
Then again, like I said, I got a broken thinker, so I may be making an assumption there. (Come to think of it, I shattered my college class ring during a sudden outburst of anger right before I was diagnosed and treated. I'll bet not many people could do that to a class ring.)
On the other hand, people with untreated bipolar disorder have been known to become extremely violent and have rages that are incomprehensible in their intensity. There is a reason that the word "mad" has two meanings.
I know one young lady who weighed a bit over 100lbs, and before she was treated she would regularly ruin sheetrock and electronic equipment in her home. Some are worse, harming not only themselves but others, wrecking property and vehicles, and even killing people.
Brain chemicals can do some nasty things.
On the other hand, if a person tries to "bottle up" their anger, this causes tremendous stress on them both mentally and physically. Statistics show that people with bipolar disorder, after allowing for the suicides, live an average of seven years less than average. This is entirely due to the stress of the illness, trying to cope with emotions that have their volume control on full blast all the time.
We get heart conditions, strokes, high blood pressure, diabetes, suppressed immune systems, the list goes on and on. That probably explains why I am a 45 year old diabetic who had to have a cardiac stent at 39.
But at the moment, I got pills. Pills are good.
Perhaps the secret is not necessarily in never being angry, but in saving our anger for situations that really justify it. Perhaps if we concentrate our anger on real problems that we can address, we could make ourselves far happier in the long run.
Perhaps I should be angry at...what? My weight? That might work, driving me to a weight machine to work out. Things like that.
Yeah, that could be good.
Anger is a signal, and one worth listening to.
Harriet Lerner, The Dance of Anger, 1985