This one’s mine. Other than talking about the illogical wrath of a deity, or when humorously speaking of enduring the anger of someone else, we don’t use this word. We prefer rage, resentment, fierce anger, vengeance, or a few other synonym-like words (pissed off). I will use the word anger because wrath is archaic. We get angry, not wrathful. I also dislike typing the silent “w,” and a rath is something else.
I could easily write a book about my own anger. If I included the whole enchilada of human nature, it would probably expand to three fat volumes, and be boring. Anger is an emotion. One foolishly considered bad or sinful. While it’s neither, it is dangerous. Anger is a legitimate and real emotion that we may each experience differently. Some people seem to be incredibly patient and tolerant, seemingly never experiencing anger. Others seem explosive, and are sent to (drum roll) Anger Management classes to learn how to behave. I like to call it Charm School.
An old friend of mine had to do that with his work later in life. We grew up together, and as I recall, my friend was exceptionally demonstrative when angry. It didn’t take much before he felt slighted, irritated, or offended. When we were teenagers, I either ignored him or put distance between us until he calmed down. Even later in life, I was still surprised that he could come unglued about things that I considered little more than a trivial nuisance. However, I also had my share of temper tantrums throughout life.
For most of my life, I had a sexist view of anger. I thought men experienced anger more frequently than women, and that acting out our anger was not only what men did, but it was semi-acceptable. I’ve since learned that my view was wrong (read this).
The point of view I had learned was that all other male emotions were unacceptable, and any emotional display was a sign of weakness. What this wrong opinion did for me was to allow me to exhibit angry behaviors regardless of what emotion I may have been feeling. I later learned that I not only had to get in touch with my emotions, I had to start identifying them: fear, shame, sadness, disgust, anxiety, guilt, and many more. I don’t blame society or culture. I take responsibility for my behavior, as should we all.
Another problem with anger is the difficulty of properly identifying it in either ourselves or others. Depression, anxiety, fear, and other emotions may manifest themselves, both inside and out, through behavior that could be considered anger. It’s confusing and figuring this out may take the help of a friend or counselor.
People lash out for a variety of reasons, and it may have little or nothing to do with being angry. I’ll leave it to the experts to follow this rabbit trail, but I suggest we try to pick out the different emotions we feel and deal with them for what they are. I posted about jealousy on Tuesday. Certainly, we feel some anger when we’re jealous. We need to recognize when more than one emotional thing is happening to us at a time. When I was beginning to work on this for myself, I would try to reflect on my feeling and not be pinging off the walls so much.
Then, a close family member accused me of being an “emotionless automoton” who had no feelings and didn’t care about others. I love the memes of a light switch for turning emotions on and off. She was confusing my trying to remain calm with lack of emotion. No such luck.
Politics, religion, sports, and money are four topics that can lead to anger during many seemingly innocuous discussions. If we have not experienced the feelings ourselves, we have certainly seen them acted out by others.
We are social (sociable or not) beings walking around in bodies transporting minds packed with emotional potential. We’re not Vulcans, like Mr. Spock (played by Leonard Nimoy) in the Star Trek series. Spock was of a mixed human-Vulcan heritage race that had mostly conquered his emotions and made them subject to his control. We are simply humans.
Ironically, the death of Spock occurs in the movie The Wrath of Khan, and some think that it’s the best scene in the movie. Forgive my digression; I’m a long time Star Trek, Spock, and Leonard Nimoy fan.
This concludes my series on The Seven Deadly Sins, or Morality. I plan a summation for next Tuesday’s post that may explain my take on this from a broader perspective.
Have a wonderful weekend.
Look both ways and mind the gaps – every day.