Have you noticed how angry people are these days? Everyone is huffing and puffing about something or the other. People are on such short fuses. Nearly everyone is walking around in varies stages of annoyance….frustration…pissed offness…and thinly veiled rage…muttering to themselves and just waiting for someone to rub them up the wrong way. I witnessed a women verbally rip a man a new anus for daring to ‘tut’ at her screaming child who was having a ‘meltdown’ in the middle of the supermarket. Then here was a guy at the bus station who complained about the fact that the brilliant automated tracking system that told people when the bus would arrive was a few seconds off. He complained to anyone who would listen. Innocent bystander were roped into this guy’s rant about the London transport. By the time the bus arrived…precisely 2.5 minutes late…everyone was in a self-induced huff activated by Mr Grumpy. Have you noticed how angry people love to share the anger?
Back in the day….anger was cool
Back in the day when we lived in caves we needed anger a lot. We needed it to appear bigger and stronger to our foe. To get angry is a natural response to danger and is part of our fight flight response mechanism and linked to our survival. Our bodies are super-efficient to deal with good old fashioned dangers like a sabre toothed tiger or matching off to war. Our bodies were not designed for dealing with small insidious issues like people cutting us up at the traffic lights… or the neighbour who only wants to play loud music at our bedtime …or the delivery guy that shows up after we’ve left home… or people who ask dumb questions …or do stupid things. When these things happen to us over and over again …day in day out… the body loses its sense of humour. Our bodies are charged with adrenaline expecting to go to war and all it gets to deal with is… a bus that is late or someone jumping in front of us in the supermarket.
That was then….but this is now
We are bombarded with things that have the potential to make us angry. Back in the day when stuff happened we had downtime to recover. Nowadays, life is so fast we don’t have the opportunity to recover. We have even lost the ability to recover. It is as if our bodies are under siege. We reel from one anger inducing event to another. We talk about angry stuff. We read angry stuff. We watch angry stuff. We get angry on behalf of other people. We pay people like Gordon Ramsey to entertain us with his breed of anger. What has anger got to do with cooking? We reward people for getting angry. If you want to make a name for yourself all you have to do is get on a reality show and bicker, complain, moan and be an around whinge bag…and you too can be a star!
Anger gets ugly…
Anger gets very ugly when we live in a world where there is little or no empathy, compassion and tolerance. We in the West have no right to be angry at all. When you look at the state of the world and how some people live today we got the best deal. Yet we complain “Oh there’s no Wi-Fi”…”the internet is down”…”the plane is delayed” “Oh the supermarket doesn’t stock my favourite brand of cereal anymore”… “Ahhh diddums’!” Complain, moan and bicker that’s what we do. There are people in foreign lands who would wish to have our so called problems. I remember running a presentation skills training course in South Africa. It was part of Bill Gates charity program. After taking the class through a few view pointer… I asked them to deliver a 5 minute presentation on an event in their lives. Well…every one of the students had harrowing stories to tell. Like seeing their parents taken away and killed. Being abandoned as children and having to live on the streets. Walking for hours to get clean water. All of them had a right to be angry, bitter and twisted but none of them were. That experience taught me not to complain. Ever.
And even uglier…when…
-People are quick to anger at the slightest inconvenience and it is the price we pay for living in a self-obsessed narcissistic world. When we get angry what we are demonstrating is that things are not going our way and at the heart of this anger is self- centeredness and conceit. Our egos are running the show and we expect the world most flow according to us.
-We have a deep sense of entitlement… the belief that we are inherently deserving of privileges and special treatment.
-We demonstrate a lack of tolerance of other people’s rights and opinions. If someone doesn’t agree with us we get the hump.
-We become so self-centred and egotistical that if the train is late or something doesn’t happen according to our wishes we take it personally and get in a huff. We have developed an over inflated sense of importance to think that the word is doing it to us.
-We are quick to get on our high horse without taking into account the facts or the feelings of the other person.
-We are so wrapped up in ourselves that we forget that the other person may be going through a tough time and may have absentmindedly strayed into our path without realising it. We seldom give people the benefit of the doubt anymore.
-We’ve all reverted to childhood. Like the chid in the supermarket we are having thinly disguised terrible two temper tantrums all over the place.
The voice of anger
At the end of it all when we resort to angry and vent any form of anger… we are saying more about our coping skills and the sorry state of our emotional intelligence than we saying about the situation. By being angry you are saying loud and clear “I am stress up to my eyeballs…I am over reacting…I am out of control…and I have descended into a temporary madness”. It is madness when you think about it. Because at the end of the day the person you are mad at has gone their merry way leaving you with indigestion and a bad headache. Getting all huffed up and puffed out makes you sick.
We have to ask ourselves if there isn’t any space for anger in our lives today. Why do we need to be angry? Why can’t we talk? Reason? Negotiate. Do we need to express anger as we did when we lived in cave and had hairy monster to fight? Perhaps it is time for us to redefine anger and bring it up to date and into the 21st century. We need to develop new tools to deal with modern life…
The mind-set necessary in an angry world is non anger. Non anger is developing the emotional intelligence necessary to deal with situation as they arise with the appropriate amount of skilfulness. Anger comes and if you are mindful it will go. Nothing that comes and goes should define you. If it does then you have become it….you have become Mr or Miss Grumpy
elegance, stylishness, poise, finesse, charm; deftness, fluidity of movement,
Courteous good will.
Synonyms: courtesy, courteousness, politeness, manners, good manners, civility, decorum, decency, propriety, breeding, respect, respectfulness; consideration, thought, thoughtfulness, tact, tactfulness, diplomacy, etiquette;
Synonyms: favour, approval, approbation, acceptance, commendation, esteem, regard, respect, preferment, liking, support, goodwill
The only emotion that can dissolve anger is grace and gratefulness. When you stop to look at where you are and what you have achieved you cannot be angry at the same time. Turn it around and count your blessing and that will stop anger in its tracks. Being appreciative of all that you have around you interrupts the anger/stress roller coaster ride. When you are grateful it allows you to be gracious and tolerant. The world doesn’t revolve around you. Sometimes the trains are late. Sometimes people say and do the stupidest, craziest, inconsiderable, unthinkable things. Sometimes people make mistakes…unintentionally …it’s just that shit has a habit of happening. Learn to be patient. When you are in a potentially angry situation just pause for a second and put yourself in the other person’s shoes…just for a second. The person that you are taking your life problems out on might be in a hell hole right now. The person you are balling out is someone just like you trying to make a living and trying to get by. None of us have been here before, there is no manual so we are going to bump and grind against each other. Practice empathy and compassion.
The next time you feel like ranting…don’t…choose to be kind!