Switch on the TV or radio, go to a supermarket or socialise in public, and you can almost guarantee to encounter someone getting angry. We seem to have somehow morphed into a world enraged, whether it is about Brexit, traffic, extortionate rents or people being too self-absorbed. Anger has become the new black and has found its way into our daily lives, as commonplace as buying our fancy Columbian coffee in the trendy cafes in our high streets. It represents an emblem of modern-day society in our freedom to express our feelings however and whenever we like, particularly encouraged by the invasion of social media in our daily lives.
Long gone are the days of keeping opinions to ourselves, biting the bottom lip and putting up and shutting up about inequality and injustice. Now we seem to vent whenever and whatever we choose, complaining and challenging, without a care or thought of the impact on the recipient. It seems to have gone from one extreme of swallowing every inequity, to blurting out our feelings at every opportunity and losing the modicum of balance in between.
But, is there a place for anger in our society? Let’s face it. In anyone’s book, anger is a destructive force. Kept inside without expression it festers away and can be known to be the cornerstone of depression or serious health issues. Expressed, when appropriate and in the moment, it can help to reinforce our boundaries and provide assertiveness and motivation.
The danger is when it is prolonged. Anger unexpressed and held within provides manure for the destruction of our society, health and relationships. Feelings of unfairness anchor it firmly in place and injustices and inequalities manifest everywhere we look, blaming who and whatever crosses our paths. Anger also begets anger. It’s extremely hard not to retaliate with someone who is consumed with rage and directing it at us, particularly if we are already harbouring the same emotions.
We have to, therefore, take responsibility for the behaviours and reactions we convey and be aware of the impact we have on others in the process. Holding on to anger or injustice as a means to punish others or act as a badge to show the humiliation we once endured, can only ever punish us, which becomes self-defeating by its intention. Worst of all, punishing ourselves with anger out of guilt and blame is an utterly pointless exercise, serving no one.
To forgive the root cause of the anger, whether it is our behaviour or someone else’s, is the only way to free us from the power we still allow it to have over us. Letting go of anger brings freedom from whatever initiated the emotion originally and releases us from its control. If we want to see a world without it, we have to first of all create that internal environment within ourselves. What we see in the world begins and ends with us, as individuals first.
Printed in the Lymington Times and the New Milton Advertiser, February 2019