It occurred to me that often people hold onto behavior because it is helpful for them. So I started to think of all the ways that people benefit from being Angry and it seems like I should share it. Hope you enjoy it.
It doesn’t require listening. When people are angry with you they don’t listen. I don’t think this is just a consequence of their anger, but also a reason for it. People feel justified in not listening when they are angry, but what if they are using anger in order to not listen?
- It provides an excuse for immature behavior. When people are angry they are not getting what they want. So rather than just accept that the world doesn’t give them what they want, they throw a temper tantrum and then say “I had a right to be angry.” Yes, everyone has a right to be angry, but often anger is not helpful when you are a mature adult.
- It is easier to be angry than to solve the issue. I think another benefit people have from being angry is that they don’t have to solve the issue. Many times people would rather get angry about something, than look at themselves and consider what role they have in contributing to the situation. With anger, we can place the blame “in the world” rather than on ourselves.
- It distracts us from unpleasant truths. When we get angry at someone or ourselves, it often is to protect us from unpleasant truths. Do we get angry that someone cut us off in traffic, or rather our feelings of feeling vulnerable and unsafe? Rather than acknowledge our feelings, we steamroll over them and look to assign blame to someone else. Many times our anger prevents us from experiencing the reality of what is going on inside ourselves.
- It makes us feel “right” and justified in our worldview. So many times I have been yelled at because I did not conform to someone else’s view of the world. I try as much as possible not to judge and treat people like I believe they should act. Much of our anger is directed at how we believe the world should be. It should be “fair” and “justice” and many things. It is nice if the world was that way, but when it isn’t, we can work to improve things instead of being angry.
- We feel good in feeling mad. We feel good in feeling mad. This is not a crazy statement, but rather feeling angry is a socially acceptable way of expressing our frustration in the world. When we “vent” we feel like we will be happier. Often, however, when we dwell on our anger we feel more unhappy and venting does not always abate and give us the opportunity to forgive. I am not going to tell you how to live your life, but just consider that forgiveness is a very powerful antidote to anger.
- We feel hurt in ways we can’t verbalize so we take it out on the person in our hearing. Many times I have been hurt by whoever wanted to kick me like a puppy. I did not do anything to justify their anger, but they felt safe in expressing anger to me because they knew I would not retaliate. Many times people who are kind and loving towards others receive anger that they don’t deserve. We all have someone get angry with us randomly, and too often we do this to others.
- We look to anger to make us feel powerful. Strange that many people feel anger makes them powerful. It makes people not trust you and pushes them away if they are healthy. Many people in abusive situations say anger is “love” and plenty of parents say that too. They say crap like “I wouldn’t be upset if I didn’t love you.” Bulls*. You can love someone and be patient and calm with them and help them to understand their mistakes.
- We think anger gives us carte blanche to express ourselves. Too often people think that anger means you can say whatever you want. Sure you can always say whatever you want, but it will damage a relationship. You can be honest and tell the truth as you see it, but your feelings are not reality. You may feel someone is disrespecting you, but that is only your perception of it, and may not be the case. Many times we assume things based on other people’s behavior and jump to conclusions. Rather than approach them in a spirit of understanding and sincere questioning, we come at them in anger. This is never a good way to solve problems with someone you love.
- We think what happens in anger can be forgiven. Yes, there are some really super people who can truly forgive others. They don’t hold it against you and they realize you were under stress. I rarely have met these people. Most people tend to hold onto what you said and did in anger, and even if they forgive you, they add that knowledge to their opinion of you. I do not want to be known as someone who is an asshole in anger. You can be respectful and honest with your feelings and still not threaten or use anger in dangerous ways.