…if you are a friend of mine, in any form, I’d really appreciate if you would actually read this – it’s actually pretty important to that relationship; if not, no worries, It is somewhat long.
So, most of you who have known me for any length of time, in person, know that I have, to put it mildly, a bad temper. You probably also know that I have done significant work with a professional therapist to mitigate and control that anger, and that I’ve been largely successful in doing so. However nothing along those lines is ever perfect, so I want to share some of my history and current-day thoughts about my own anger with my friends out there.
FIrst, the sources. For me, anger comes from two main places: frustration and things that I see as injustice. Fear used to be a part of that mix for me, but as I’ve aged and matured, that reaction has completely changed (and it’s not particularly relevant here, so I won’t mention it further). Frustration-based anger is something that I think everybody has, and it is, for me, the generally easier to deal with; generally, frustrating situations, even those that pile one each other, aren’t anyone’s fault. I don’t have a target vent the anger at, and usually (especially if it’s based on mistakes that I’m making/have made) can redirect the reaction from anger to humor, at which point, the anger, and often the frustration, fades. It took me a long time to learn how to do this – I’ve lost friends and potential friends due to this; people who see the anger and for whatever reason cannot or will not deal with it (nor should they be required to). I’m a largish person, with, I’m told, an intimidating air; if I am visibly angry it’s not unreasonable for some people to be physically afraid of me, especially if they don’t know me well (I used to think it unreasonable; I’ve recently been convinced otherwise). The other major source of anger for me is what I see as injustice. My responses to these sorts of things are usually a bit different than the response I have from frustration. Since the injustices are often at a remove, I often make commentary to friends and acquaintances. When I’m not careful, as I can be when especially worked up, I sometimes say some truly awful stuff.
And that’s the point of this blog post.
Those things I sometimes say are pretty bad and, despite the fact that I don’t mean them literally, they can make me look like a dangerous, out of control thug. Or at the least, a mean-tempered asshole. Neither of these things are, in my opinion, true about me. Now, to stop dancing around the issue, the things that I’ve recently said are stuff like “…if I meet that guy, I’m gonna put him in the hospital.” “He needs to have the facts explained to him, with a baseball bat.” and other things, equally bad or worse. Now, I generally am aware of how bad this stuff sounds – and I have been trying to moderate how I express my extreme revulsion towards some people. I don’t do this often any longer, but I still do do it. The thing is, I don’t mean this stuff literally, at all. The impulse to say them is, I think, at least partly buried in the cultural morass I grew up in, in Southern California in the 70’s and in Northern Cal in the 80’s. I absorbed a lot of the “guys are always tough & talk shit” culture, even the parts I didn’t agree with – and this kind of talk was and is still perfectly acceptable in that part of Guy Culture. Another part of that are likely my feelings of trying to appear powerful/tough as a teenager and young man (most of which was posturing to avoid getting bullied, and in many cases worked). None of these things are excuses of course – they are merely reasons. As far as what I actually do other than talk when I’m expressing anger, pretty much that’s it. At this point in my life I’m pretty much incapable of actually starting a physical altercation – I can’t do it because I know it probably won’t help, and that it’s almost always an ethically incorrect response for me, and that I’ll likely end up in jail and probably a hospital (like most people, I’m not all that good at fighting, really). I might do better in self-defense, but I haven’t had to worry about that for more than half my life at this point.
I am working on not engaging in this set of behaviors any more, but it’s hard sometimes. If any of you hear me say anything like the above, and you feel okay doing so, please do mention it – because I won’t always be aware that it’s happening; anger can be a strong and very seductive emotion. It will help in a given situation.
Thanks for reading. Feedback and criticism are always appreciated.