Anger can be a dangerous drug

Our society seems to be addicted to a drug – anger. Social media plays a part in this. What ends up on most of our feeds are stories and statements that are designed to elicit a response and the most powerful human emotion is anger. But social media isn’t the only culprit here. News programs, comedians, news sites, politicians, and more all add to our addiction.

Anger provides us with a warm feeling that let’s us know we are alive. The feeling of anger has the ability to cover other feelings – like pain and suffering. Anger gives us a boost of adrenaline. Anger can make us feel righteous. It can make us feel like we are fighting for truth and what is right, regardless of what that is. Anger gives us something basic to humanity – an enemy to scapegoat for whatever problem we observe or encounter. Anger is a form of deflection from dealing with our own problems and brokenness.

And anger is addicting.

That’s not a radical statement – I don’t think it is anyway. All I need to do is see what the latest angering thing is. This week it’s supposedly something about Big Bird promoting vaccinations or something like that. Don’t bother looking into it though – we’ll be onto the next rage soon enough.

Here’s a few ways to deal with anger:

  1. Notice yourself getting angry. You have to pay attention to what’s going on inside of you. If you don’t, then anger will just blind you and you are more likely to say or do something that you will later regret. Anger doesn’t work well with logic. It is raw emotion and only considers the present moment.
  2. Once you notice your own anger, ask yourself this – Why am I angry? And what am I angry about? Does this thing have anything to do with me directly? Is there something long term that is going on, or is this just something happening in the moment?
  3. What is it about the anger that is benefiting you? What are losing by being angry? This starts to shift you from the emotional reaction to a more holistic way of viewing things. Your anger may well be justified, but it’s hard to justify something when you aren’t thinking clearly. Or figure out how you will respond to the anger, rather than react. Reaction requires no critical thinking, just a reaction to an emotional state. Response requires some thought taking place to determine what you will say or do and why.
  4. Is what you are angry about something short term, or does it have larger implications? What proof do you have – not just conjecture or slippery slope arguments. What exactly can you point to show that there are long term implications about whatever is going on?
  5. How does the person/organization who is provoking your anger (an advertiser, news source, politician, etc) benefiting from your anger response? Are you being manipulated? How can you determine that.

Anger isn’t always a bad thing. Sometimes it is needed. I just don’t think the amount of anger that exists in our society is at a healthy level – especially as we go from one anger agent to the next, week after week, year after year.

Let’s take an example – the “war on Christmas.” You know this is coming, so let’s deal with it right now.

Do you get angry about this? What’s going on inside of you when you think about the “war on Christmas?”

Why are you angry? What exactly are you angry about? Is the “war on Christmas” actually impacting your ability to celebrate Christmas? In what tangible and measurable way? What exactly is Christmas about?

How are you benefiting from being angry over the “war on Christmas? What are you losing?

Is the “war on Christmas” having some kind of long term impact on society at large? If so, what is it? Give examples for yourself. Or is the “war on Christmas” something short term that will be forgotten once Christmas is over? Is this only a seasonal rage that pops up? Has anything of actual substance changed in recent years in relation to anyone and how they can celebrate Christmas?

Who is benefiting from your anger over the “war on Christmas?” And how?

So the question then becomes, what are you going to do? Are you going to continue to be angry over a “war on Christmas”? or are you going to not allow someone else to determine your emotional state related to Christmas, regardless of what they do or say?

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