It probably sounds like complete crap to you. Just that line. Anger is a really old friend of mine. We’ve known each other since my first encounter with sexual abuse at age 12. I got over the abuse. Anger stayed my friend. It became my protector of strength.
Then came physical abuse, emotional abuse, and spiritual abuse. Anger just got the best friend status. Anger was always a reaction or a way to feel some semblance of power in me, which I had continuously given away in exchange for approval, love, to not be lonely or avoid feeling a particular fear.
Like fear in cases of real life-threatening danger, anger also works. It changes our neurochemistry and biology. It makes us feel like we are back in control. Anger is therefore often about loss or gain of control, a way to protect or defend ourselves.
A situation occurs where you or the other, or both feel angry. Whoever is experiencing the anger is first feeling like a loss of control or power and energy of aggression or attack rises, which makes us want to take back the control or power. It is a form of self-preservation or even survival. There’s a sharp separation between you and this other person/situation that occurs (you vs. me) that puts you in a space where you first feel totally helpless or powerless, like being taken over by someone or something and then anger kicks in to self preserve or protect against that. And if accompanied by a prior already existing sense of unfairness or victimhood, the anger is bigger. Anger cannot exist unless we feel all this deep down within us and that too over and over again.
There is no outside person who ever did anything to us.
…Yes…NO ONE HAS EVER DONE ANYTHING TO YOU. This line may piss you off. But what the heck. I am willing to be your trigger right now.
Why do I say that? Wheel back to childhood for a moment. When we sang or danced in front of adults, we were encouraged and probably applauded. We learned that we need to be and do certain things to get approval. If accompanied by a tyrannical or autocratic form of parenting where we had to listen to others because they said so, our own emotions and feelings had to be pushed down and buried deep down somewhere, inaccessible for a long time to come (helplessness and powerlessness). We could nor do nor say much. So we listened and obeyed. We did whatever we needed to do to get approval. Then growing up, we did it for people we made friends with.
So an angry person is basically = unheard, needs unmet, powerless, helpless, fearful (of loneliness/abandonment/rejection/belonging) + sense of unfairness and crying.
So when I say no one has ever done anything to you, it is because we choose to be all this. We didn’t know better, but we still chose it anyway. For approval, love, appreciation and a sense of belonging. We did not ever want to experience rejection and abandonment, and in some cases rightly so as it would have meant survival.
When we think that someone has angered me, it’s more like I feel helpless and out of control yet again with this person, as I am allowing myself to choose that again. This person is merely a trigger. Not the cause.
If you change the status of a person being a cause of your anger to a trigger of your anger, you also realize that a lot has been already brimming just under the surface, just waiting for the right temperature, chemistry, environment and person to explode/implode.
Anger isn’t bad. It is a symptom of something much deeper, much bigger. The next time you meet an angry person, take a deep breath, know they are in deep deep pain and anguish.
Listen to them. Don’t interrupt. Maybe it’s the first time someone is gifting them the space to vent. Be that gift.
Also, be the gift of being a trigger to people. To let their anger explode. Don’t not say something because you need their approval. If push comes to shove, say what you need to say. Let them run amok or go berserk. It’s ok. If they leave, let them. This too is a form of love. The highest level that one can be. Through caring and compassion.