Anger – It’s in the news, on the roads, it can often seem unescapable. Many perceive anger as a basic human instinct, a protection mechanism instilled in our reptilian brain. When the majority of the time, anger derives from simple misunderstandings or perceived slights. When would you want to know that anger is a choice?
What is it that the first thing we do when we feel angry?
We have to have a reason for being angry, and we have to justify our anger. Then we have to keep finding more supporting evidence for that anger and that is a story.
Immediately we are going to find a way of keeping ourselves angry. Because there’s something inside of us that we want to feel like the other person harmed us or intended to harm us.
Can anybody actually control your emotions?
Someone could do things that potentially could make you respond with anger but I might equally respond without anger. It’s a choice. I get to choose whether I’m angry or I’m not.
It’s always a choice and when we choose to be angry we find reasons to justify why our story to ourselves is true. When in almost all cases, it’s not true at all. It’s a made up lie, it’s a deception that we trick ourselves into.
It has to do with ego, has to do with animal ego of survival. We go back to the amygdala, the reptilian brain where it’s fight, flight, or freeze. A protection mechanism, to make sure that we’re not going to be hurt again but that hurt is just a story.
Almost all cases I’ve seen, it’s a different story. Somebody intended something totally different but we were either tired or something was triggered from a past experience. You see road rage all the time, “They cut me off, they took my place. They just went through, behind all these cars. Who do they think they are?” But that’s also saying, who do we think we are?
I’ve found that the cure for anger is forgiveness. And it starts with forgiving ourselves for the story we told. And then we forgive other people. There are several studies out there that show that holding anger, that negative emotion is really bad for our health.
The stress affects our thyroid or adrenal gland, body temperature, all kinds of things. And it manifests into disease. It creates even more acid in our body and our blood needs to be alkaline.
So why, if it’s bad for us, do people cling so hard to anger?
Put simply, the ego needs to be right. Success is a comparison of me versus somebody else. I won the race, I am earning more money, on and on. Success in my definition is a comparison of I’m better than that. That’s ego, that’s animal, that’s scarcity.
Fulfilment is happiness. Fulfilment, I think is really about connection to other people and about growth. Learning lessons, improving ourselves, increasing our knowledge, our capacity to connect other people. Those connecting and loving, that’s when I think we’re all happiest.
The act of being angry, is the act of standing apart and saying we’re different and we’re opposed. Anger is a comparative isolation. Versus our spirit part of us, which is about community, connection and learning.
If we deal with anger as soon as possible rather than letting it manifest itself, things can resolve more quickly. But how do we admit we’re wrong? Where do we find the strength to choose differently? Stay tuned for Part 2 of this 3-part discussion.