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Archive for January, 2009

Anger…….

What does the word ‘anger’ conjure up? To most it is a wild dark and uncontrollable picture.

We do not like to face this picture for ‘fear’ of what it will unearth.

So are the words ‘anger’ and ‘fear’ both negative words which we do not want to face?

Anger and fear are both primary emotions like love and joy. We are made up of these primary emotions just as surely as we have physical features. Unfortunately for many years we have been subconsciously trained not to accept either emotion. Since these are primary emotions they are not emotions with which we can reason.

When we experience ‘fear’ our instinctive response is ‘flight’ or ‘fight’. These defense mechanisms help us to survive.

When we experience ‘anger’ we also feel pain. It is a pain which is felt at a very very deep subconscious level and it remains within us because we do not know how to express our anger and exhaust it.

Most of us respond to anger with a ‘fight’ response. If we dig deeper into this response, we realize what has really happened is that our true response to anger has been sidelined. We begin to ‘fear’ our own anger because society has conditioned us to do so. The instinctive response to fear is also the ‘fight’ response. By lashing out at someone or ‘revenge thoughts’ all we do is acknowledge our fear of anger. This leads to further frustration within ourselves and we get caught in the same vicious cycle of anger without really dealing with it.

How does one deal with anger? Anger is a sort of an unadulterated rage at our helplessness at being unable to deal with a situation. Many of us are in a state of ‘passive anger’ where the feeling of anger is masked by an unseemly calmness at dealing with life. Underneath that calmness is a burning fury of anger.

The first step to dealing with anger is to acknowledge it. The source of that anger is what is of primary importance. The source might be very trivial and may seem unjustified from a societal point of view. What we need to correct within ourselves is that anger is right and anger leads to pain. It is the Pain that we have to deal with ourselves. Anger does not mean giving pain to somebody else.

How does one acknowledge anger? This is a difficult question because anger surfaces at the smallest of pretext. Sometimes there is no pretext and there is just anger. Once we start recognizing that anger exists within us and is part and parcel of us, our mental make-up and all that we stand for then it becomes easier for us to acknowledge anger. The more we push anger away the more it turns to fear and the more is our ‘fight’ or ‘flight’ (passive aggressive) response.

Let’s look at anger visually from the moment of birth. A baby is born and cries. The primary emotion is ‘fear’ and ‘anger’ at being thrust out of the warm womb, though this is an act of nature. The baby acknowledges fear by flaying its arms and legs wildly but it doesn’t get anywhere. Then the baby acknowledges the anger by crying loudly. Why does the baby cry? The baby understands the pain coming from the anger and reacts with grief. The baby feels the helplessness of being thrust from its cosy womb by an act of nature. The baby instinctively understands that anger comes from its helplessness. The baby is in touch with both these emotions. Later the baby is held and fed. It feels joy and contentment when it is fed and love and happiness when it is held. As we grow up all these emotions mature and evolve just like our physical features do.

Normal homes encourage the ‘love’ and ‘joy’ process of evolution but deny the ‘anger’ fear’ process of evolution. We have left evolving and maturing these emotions far far behind. Suddenly one day we wake up and find that many things in life cannot be handled. That is because 50% of our emotional makeup has been left at the baby stage!!

How do we start acknowledging the 50% of ourselves that we have left behind?

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