If you are a fan of police shows, you will hear the phrase “put the gun DOWN!” at least once during the episode. Although this article is not about guns, it has to do with a similar issue with regard to feelings of anger. The attitudes of many people with whom we speak as well as the media coverage would suggest that there’s a good deal of anger operating in our world … anger that in many cases has turned into violent, senseless behavior.
First off, let me define the concept of anger. Simply put, anger is a feeling that we experience when someone says or does something that we wish they hadn’t said or done. It’s a natural, normal feeling that everyone experiences at one point in life or another. It can be very useful as a tool to change what needs changing in relationships on a one-on-one basis or even on a national scale. Anger can provide the incentive for people to take action on issues that are unjust or downright harmful. It can also be a stepping-stone to reestablishing balances within relationships if it is handled in an appropriate and rational manner. However, in our society today and in the world in general, it seems that anger has gotten out of control and beyond the limits of reparation.
This article cannot “fix” anything but it is meant to help people become aware of some of the positive elements as well as the pitfalls of dealing with anger in inappropriate ways. Instead of anger representing what might be array in a given relationship, many people tend to hold onto their anger … almost as a “badge of honor.” They tend to use their anger as a weapon to place others into a “lesser position” so that they can have more control over them. Their anger can create a sense of fear and a foreboding sense of doom in order to bring others to their knees so that they can exert control over t hem. As they hold onto their anger, they might also tend to use it to manipulate others into doing their bidding much like the carrot and the stick. Anger, for those who are experiencing a good deal of insecurity in intimate relationships, is also used as a defensive tool that prevents others from getting too close.
All of these examples are examples of learned behaviors that usually find their basis in early family patterns that continue on into adulthood. They may be well engrained to the extent that they may become an integral part of daily functioning to the point that they become “second nature” and not even viewed as being a problem. Of course, they do create problems and this one feeling … anger … is seen as being the basis for most divorces as well as global wars. Too often, it goes unchecked to the point that it becomes irreversible and, for many, once the anger and the damage is identified, it is too late to change the problems it has caused. Strangely enough, many relationships go on indefinitely with the destructive patterns that anger creates as if it is a commonly acceptable way of life.
There are inherent dangers in holding onto anger. One of the more common ones is the problem of internalized anger turning into depression. Obviously, as you read about those who commit suicide which is a violent, self-destructive act, you need to take note of how far their inward anger has taken them to the point of killing themselves. Usually notes that are left are resplendent with angry feelings which rendered the subject feeling helpless with no other choices, as they view it, but to take their own lives. Suicide is a very selfish act and one that renders those left behind with feelings that are devastating including the guilt over what they may have done or not done to explain the untimely and violent death of a loved one.
Another inherent danger of withholding anger is that the person doing so is unaware that the misfortunes in their lives may have a basis in the anger that they are carrying around with them. Instead, they may have the tendency to blame others or the circumstances that surround their disrupted and disruptive lives. Without any sense of realization and accountability, the pattern that is formed leads to a very unhappy and fruitless existence oftentimes leaving that person in a very lonely position because of the effects of that anger on others.
There is a close correlation between anger and conflict. In many ways, the conflict that occurs in relationships … all relationships … is a necessary factor in helping to redefine the relationship in order to bring it into a functional balance once again. Depending on how well the anger and resulting conflict are handled, the result can be a very positive one. However, many times, these elements are mishandled and mistaken as a negative force that doesn’t allow any sense of resolution. This is why mediators are vital in helping people resolve their differences so that they can come into a win-win result instead of a destructive end.
We’ve witnessed the outcome of whether the command “put the gun DOWN!” is heeded or not. If not, there is a shootout with both the innocent and the guilty paying the price. In addition, when the directive is attuned to, the possibility of some type of resolution to the problem can then be found. Which method do you tend to prefer?
Both as a consultant and author, Charles Bonasera’s story-telling have motivated people to change patterns and resolve problems in their lives. All of his books contain valuable, practical lessons that people can easily apply to bettering and managing their lifestyles. He has also written a myriad of articles which can be found on his website at www.charlesmbonasera.com.