"Anger Management" is not "Anger Elimination." Though often perceived negatively, anger is not always a bad emotion -- particularly when it is managed correctly. Anger can be quite useful. When you choose to work with anger in the right context, you can have a greater effect than if had you selected a calmer response. The key words in that last sentence are "choose" and "right context." This week's virtue is anger and the near enemy to be addressed is rage.
Where Does Anger Come From?
In a very noble way, anger is often a very appropriate response to mistreatment, injustice, and abuse. In these cases, it functions as a call for you to act and gives you the inner push necessary to not remain silent -- to not let someone's bad behavior go unchecked. Anger can also be less noble when it is in response to having your insecurities poked or getting your ego hurt. Anger can arise from envy, jealousy, and a host of other negative states.
If your verbal expression skills are poor and don't work well during conflict, anger often emerges in those situations due to the frustration experienced. The inability to communicate emotions effectively and anger are linked. Anger is one of the more complex emotions to understand and it can often be difficult for you to understand the "why" part of your anger.
"I know I'm angry but why am I angry and is it really for the reason I think it is?" are good questions to ask yourself.
Rage is Out-of-Control Anger
When anger is not controlled, it is called rage. Rage destroys lives. It destroys relationships. It physically and/or emotionally damages other people. Rage is never appropriate, healthy, or helpful. It can't be used in any positive way. Anger is a controlled burn. Rage is a forest fire.
If you are someone working on your anger, you know this distinction quite well.
The Wisdom of Choice
There are moments when anger is healthy and helpful but only when it is under control -- only when it hasn't become rage. There are moments when you do actually need to yell for your voice to be heard and for people to take you seriously. There are moments when you may need to walk out the door of a relationship and never look back. Anger can be healthy in these cases and is an important emotion to master for these reasons.
When you are triggered, anger may naturally arise. Emotional intelligence is the ability to then choose to use that anger to resolve your situation or to then choose to let it go if using anger wouldn't be healthy or helpful to the situation at hand. We will talk more about how to consciously make this choice in the week's ahead.
For now, know the difference between anger and rage. Learn to see anger as a choice and a tool to be used -- rather than just as a default or uncontrollable response.
Mondays – Near Enemies
Many virtues have a near enemy. These near enemies masquerade as the actual skill and are often unhealthy or unhelpful in the long term. Near enemies create a false separation. A true virtue creates a closeness to others or even your best self
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