Fueling the Flames of Anger
BY: Troy Murphy | September 2018
We encounter unpleasant and angering events often. The emotion is normal; but how we think about triggering events either fuels the anger or douses it, so we can act in tune with long-term intentions.
Brooding over perceived wrongs fuels the fire, trapping us within its wrath, preventing constructive action. Our thoughts expand, contract and mitigate the original feeling of experience—either for our benefit or detriment. We are emotional creatures. We will experience the unpleasantness of anger. Sometimes this rascal emotion motivates appropriate swift action, protecting our rights and the rights of others. Other times, however, we act in stupidity, destroying bonds that took years to build, and hurting the tender hearts that trust us with their safety.
Inevitably our egos get bruised as we bump into and negotiate with others. It’s the nature of life. Billions of people scurrying around this little planet with different goals, expectations, and purposes. There will be interactions where we cry, “foul.” Hurt calls us to action; we respond with force to defend—often with destructive ends not intended. But with caution (and time), the emotional demand for immediate action fades. The event triggering the emotion may still need addressing; but can be mindfully addressed constructively, with wisdom, and in-line with future goals.
"Hurt calls us to action; we respond with force to defend—often with destructive ends not intended."
Our sensitivity to hurt marks painful lessons for recall; our systems are protection oriented, making special note of dangers. Mulling over slights, we create meaning, labeling mundane actions with intent. What may have been an unintended overlook, becomes a purposeful attack. These self-created meanings fuel the fire, stoking destructive flames instead of self-disciplined dousing to cool the embers.
Actions of others occasionally hurt; but when we believe that action is purposeful, our anger swells and pushes for retaliation. Our minds are always active, filling in unknowns, creating dilemmas, and supporting theories. We get dragged in to thoughts of conspiracy without evidence. The car that cuts us off, the cross word from a spouse, the missed compliment in a staff meeting, usually are not planned attacks because we are not respected or liked. They are just the inevitable slights that each of us humans must occasionally process when living in this world populated by free-spirited individuals.
Taking a deep breath, step back and reframe the slight with other possible explanations. Usually, the catastrophe is no more than a passing event with little meaning. If we view hurtful behaviors in a more constructive way, entertaining alternate explanations, our thoughts soothe the intensity of the anger, giving space for a more constructive response.
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