ANGER

DEFINITION

Anger

A strong emotion; a feeling that is oriented toward some real or supposed grievance •

The state of being angry

I have never been what you would call, an “angry man,” but on reflection, I guess I used to get angry quite regularly. I can’t even remember what used to trigger it, but one minute I was calmly having a conversation, and the next second, whhhoooooosh! ANGER.

I normally calmed down straight away and probably apologised, or just stormed off. But recently, when thinking about anger, I started to look back at my life, to see what it was that was actually causing it. I guess the more stressed I got at work, or in my personal life, the easier it was to trigger, but it usually involved me not getting what I wanted, or when things didn’t go my way. Or is that the same thing?

Fortunately for me, my anger never turned physical, and was restricted to lots of shouting, banging of doors, and the occasional kicking of some inanimate object. I was never proud of my actions afterwards, but if people hadn’t provoked me, then I wouldn’t have got angry, would I?!

Provocation

1. Unfriendly behaviour that causes anger or resentment

2. Something that incites or provokes; a means of arousing or stirring to action

I don’t know if you’ve ever had noisy neighbours. I have. It was a couple in the flat below me, both in their thirties, and both with good jobs, but nearly every night they would be arguing. She would be screaming at him, he would be screaming at her, and things would inevitably be thrown; but if you saw them the next day on the way to work, you wouldn’t have thought they had been fighting. I never saw any bruises on either of them, and any time I spoke to them they never mentioned the fighting, nor apologised for making so much noise (even though they must have known I could hear them). But one day I decided to have it out with the guy, I wanted to know if everything was all right, and check that he wasn’t going to murder his wife!

Me: Hi, can I have a word with you for a minute?

Him: Sure, what about?

Me: (talking quietly) Well, it’s just that I keep hearing you two shouting and screaming at each other, and look, you’re both nice people, so I just wanted to know if everything is all right. I mean, I don’t want to interfere or anything (fortunately he didn’t look like the type of guy who was going to hit me for interfering).

Him: No. It’s ok, alan, come in; the wife’s out for the evening. (He looked weary) Sit down…

Me: I’m sorry, it’s just I don’t want to see anything bad happen to either of you, you seem like a nice couple.

Him: Thanks. Well we are, or we were. I don’t know if I should be telling you this, oh, what the heck you’re here now, and it’s good to have someone to talk to. For the last six months we have been having money worries, and it’s really starting to upset my wife.

Me: Well, we’ve all got money worries. I’m up to my eyeballs in debt at the moment. But it’s not something I get angry over.

Him: Yeah, well, she blames me. She says it’s all my fault, that I’m no good, and that I don’t earn enough money.

Me: I bet that hurts.

Him: Tell me about it. She just keeps going on, and on about how she should have married her ex-boyfriend, and how she should never have married a loser like me. And I kind of lose it.

Me: I’m sure. Well it’s not nice when people say hurtful things. Being short of money is no reason to try to hurt your feelings.

Him: I don’t want to get angry; she just keeps on pushing and pushing…

Me: So she provokes you?

Him: Yeah, and then sometimes, I can’t control myself and I hit her, but never in the face.

Me: Well, that’s not good, is it?

Him: No. But I can’t help it. She hits me as well. I have even woken up in the middle of the night and she has been hitting me, or biting and scratching me! Can you imagine that? Being woken up in the middle of the night by some lunatic biting you?

Me: So why don’t you split up if you are so angry at each other; or at least get some counselling?

Him: We love each other, and we don’t want to split up, but my wife says the only way we can be together is if I bring in more money; she says counselling just costs more money!

Me: Look, I am sure you can get free counselling somewhere. If you don’t, you’re going to kill each other by the sounds of it.

Him: But if she would only stop going on about me being a loser, I wouldn’t get so angry.

Me: Well, tell her that it hurts you, and to stop it.

Him: She knows it hurts me, that’s why she does it.

Me: Well don’t let her provoke you, take a deep breath and leave the room if you have to. Tell her you will talk to her like an adult when she calms down.

Him: Ok, I’ll try. I do love my wife you know.

Me: I’m sure. I’ve got to go. I’ll see you soon.

Three weeks later I arrived home late in the evening from a night out with colleagues from work, and was surprised to see a police car and an ambulance outside our building. At first I didn’t know what had happened, but then I saw my neighbour being led out by police. “Oh, no!” I thought, “what has he done?” He looked over as he was walking down the stairs of the apartment building to the waiting police car. “She just kept pushing me, she didn’t know when to stop,” he said, as he was passing. I was lost for words. I just wished I had been able to help both of them before it came to this.

Domestic violence

Violence or physical abuse directed toward your spouse or domestic partner; usually violence by men against women

It turned out that my neighbour had broken his wife’s jaw in three places and she had a fractured rib. She had fought back hard, but in the end his strength had overcome her.

“Oh well, another marriage down the drain,” I thought, “all because of anger. He could probably go to jail if she pressed charges, and their relationship could never be the same again.”

How often do we hear about stories of domestic violence in the media, where one partner (usually the male) has beaten up his wife because he was angry?

We never really know the causes of it, and we probably never will, because you see, there is never a real “cause;” anger is something that builds and builds until the pressure cooker explodes, and out it comes.

Partners may have “provoked” each other by saying, or doing things they know antagonise (provoke the hostility of) each other, but anger in itself is just a release. It is the real or imagined things we dislike, or are in opposition of our own thinking, that act as the building blocks.

Unfortunately, for the partner on the receiving end, it is very real and very scary, especially if it ends in physical violence. So what are we to do, if we are going to transcend this anger?

How can we live our lives differently so the sort of story I described stops happening? A lot of domestic violence is accompanied by alcohol, but just removing the alcohol doesn’t stop the anger from building up; all alcohol does is “loosen the tongue.”

Do you understand?

The anger will still be there tomorrow.

The workplace connection

I used to work for a company where my boss was always angry.

Everything I did was wrong. Things that weren’t even my fault were blamed on me.

I used to see his boss coming into his office in the morning, closing the door, and starting to shout at him about anything and everything. This time it was about customer orders not being fulfilled, due to glitches in the computer system we had installed in several companies. I could see he was apologising profusely, and then, as the door swung open and the big boss left, I was duly summoned.

“Sit down, alan!” he commanded, banging the door closed. “What the hell is going on? You promised me that there would be no more problems in the shipping system, do you know how stupid you’ve made me look? Do you?”

“Err no… I’m trying my best. It will be fixed soon. In fact I’ll go down to see the customer today,” I shakily replied.

“That’s not good enough! My boss wants to see results. He doesn’t want unhappy customers. Do you understand me?” he screamed. “Do you? Well get out there and get it fucking fixed. Now, get out of my office!”

Everyone was watching me, as I nervously left my boss’s office.

What was I going to do? I couldn’t think how to fix it, and he wanted it fixed now, or I was definitely going to get fired.

“Yeah, what are you lot looking at?” I shouted at my colleagues, and went to sit down and think.

In two seconds I shouted: “Andy, paul, mike, my office, now! Meeting.”

Everyone came to sit down, notepads at the ready. “What the fuck’s going on, mike? You told me you had fixed the code.” “Well, I thought I did alan; the changes we made must have affected something else,” he replied. “Well, what about you two?” I said to paul and andy. “You must have known that something like this was going to happen, how couldn’t you? It’s so obvious!” I shouted. “Well it wasn’t,” said Mike calmly. “We will look at the code again today, and if we have to, we will reverse out the changes and hopefully that will fix it.” “Oh my god. But then they will lose the new modifications they requested. What a fuck up! Get out all of you. You’re all fucking useless!”

I went outside to calm down and smoke a cigarette.

How could they do this to me? This is such an important contract. They must be doing it to make me look bad. I’ve never liked that mike, smarmy bastard. I’ll fucking show them. I’ll sack the lot of them if they get me into trouble with my boss again. What a fucking day…

I got in the car and was annoyed to find there was heavy traffic: “Come on, for fuck’s sake. Jesus. Get out the way. Come on… Come on… Yeah and you too mate. Fuck off. You fucking idiot. Jesus some drivers…” I got home…

“Hi alan, how was your day, honey?” my girlfriend asked me.

“I’ve had the worst fucking day…” “Oh that’s a shame, poor baby. I’ll run you a nice bath and pour you a glass of wine,” she said kindly. “Oh, that’s great, I really need it,” I replied. “Oh, just one thing, we got another bill from the gas and electric people, this time it’s a red one. Can you pay it tomorrow?”

Whoosh, and I felt the anger rise up in me like an electric current running through my whole body.

“Why can’t you fucking pay it, can’t you see how busy I am?” “But I just thought…” “Well, don’t!” I shouted. “I can’t believe you. I’m out at work all fucking day, and all you have to do is pay one lousy fucking bill!” I kept on. “But I’m out at work too, I don’t have much time either,” she said, almost crying. “Well, you don’t know what it means to work hard,” I shouted. “All you do is sit in your little office typing all day. Jesus, one fucking bill, and you can’t pay it. I can’t believe you’re hassling me about it as soon as I come in, you’re such an inconsiderate bitch!”

She was sobbing by now… “I hate you alan, all I wanted was for you to come home, have a nice bath, and relax, but now you can go to hell!”

“Yeah, you too. I’m going out.”

“Come on, we’re going out,” I said to the dog.

He was a big dog, and I have to admit, not very well trained, and during the whole walk he was pulling and pulling at the lead. “Stop it. STOP IT!” I shouted at him. “Come here, come here. Heel. Stupid dog,” and I hit him on the bottom hard. He yelped. “Now do as you’re told!” I growled. “Ah fuck this, I’m taking you home, and I’m going for a drink.”

I threw him inside and marched down to the local pub, where I saw some people I knew. “Hi, alan, how you doing?” “Fine, bit stressed, I’ll be much better after a pint.” And I was. I sat at the bar chatting away with strangers quite happily.

Because you can’t get angry at strangers can you? They might take offence. They might hit you. No. It’s best to play it safe and get angry with people who can’t hurt you, or are in a subordinate position. As I stumbled home, thinking about what I would say to my girlfriend if she started on me again, I resolved to come down really hard on those idiots from work…

Ok, so I have experienced a fair amount of anger in my life. I have been angry about everything from not earning enough money, to trains not coming on time, dropping food on my tie, being late for the cinema, nobody listening to me etc. If things didn’t work out the way I wanted them, I got angry. Even if I dropped a piece of toast on the floor I would swear and curse at the stupid toast. Everyone bore the brunt of my anger: My colleagues, my bosses, my dog, my parents, my girlfriends, and my friends. “Why is life not working out the way I wanted it to,” I kept asking myself. “Everyone seems to have it in for me.”

As time went on, I left the stressful work environment I had placed myself in, and went travelling; but things just didn’t improve. I was still angry at my new wife, because of things she said to me, my money situation, the bills, and moving to a new country. I decided to seek help.

My therapist said I had high core stress levels, and that once I had reduced them, the whole anger thing should go away. He was right, slowly but surely it did. He asked me how I would feel in certain situations, and how I would act, and then helped me change the way I thought about things.

I began to see that things didn’t matter as much as I thought they did, and through the development of awareness, I began to notice when I was getting angry and I would let it go.

Whenever I saw somebody getting angry in a pub, “Are you looking at my girlfriend? Do you want to fight about it…?” I would stand there and just look on incredulously. How could they not see, that all of this is imaginary (even if the situation is real)? What does it matter if someone is looking at someone else’s girlfriend? She’s not a possession. Inevitably there would be a fight, and shirts would be ripped, noses broken, blood pouring everywhere; and finally ejection from the pub, more fighting, followed by arrest. What a great night out! All caused because one man had a thought, which passed across his mind in a flash that someone was looking at his girlfriend; and if someone was looking at her, then he might take her away from him, or his girlfriend might find the someone more attractive… And whoosh… “Are you looking at my girlfriend?” It all seemed so silly to me now. But after I split up from my wife and left australia, I met a girl who showed me that anger is only a baby compared with rage.

Rage 1. A feeling of intense anger

2. A state of extreme anger

3. Behave violently, as if in state of a great anger

I always thought she was a passionate girl, and that her loud, animated talking was perhaps cultural. I even thought that it may be good to have a girlfriend who was emotional, at least that meant she was “alive,” so I was prepared to put up with her temper (a disposition to exhibit uncontrolled anger) from time to time.

I was staying with her and her family, while I was trying to write this book, and she “let” me write as often as I wanted, except in the evenings and the weekend. That was “our” time, she explained. I tried to point out to her I was never going to finish this book, unless I had no limitations on when I could write, but she didn’t see it that way: “What do you fucking think, man? That I’m here to cook all your fucking dinners? That I am here to clean the house and wash your clothes? I’m not your fucking servant!” As usual, I just listened, and let it go, but that just seemed to annoy her even more. “Look,” I said, “I’m not going to argue with you. I don’t want to fight, I just want to write my book.”

And that’s when something in the room changed. It was like someone turning up the temperature by 1000 degrees, and the violent energy in the room was terrifying. “You fucking mother fucker. You fucking bastard. Fucking, fucking bastard. I do everything for you, everything, and this is how you repay me?” I started to say something, but then was hit by a variety of objects flying at me. “How fucking dare you come to my country and stay with my parents, and show me no respect, you fucker! I give you a place to write and all I want to do is spend a little time with you, is that too much to ask?” Her eyes were blazing, her body twisted with rage. I was glad we weren’t near the knives in the kitchen. “All I want is for you to spend time with me. Do you understand? You miserable, selfish, fucking bastard.” I can’t remember how long it went on for, but it was too long for my liking. I just stood there, transfixed to the spot, and realised I had to leave her; and I did, shortly afterwards.

The problem was, all she did want was to spend time with me, because she liked being with me, and I was refusing to comply with her wishes. I wanted one thing (to write my book), and she wanted another (to spend time with me), but rather than either of us compromising, we both kept on our own paths until it was too late. She could no longer contain the energy she had in her mind, and she had to release the pressure.

Fortunately, I had learnt to let things go, or you can imagine the violent rage that two people could create.

Several months later I thought about the situation again, and I realised I had wanted to tell her. “I’ve had enough of your fucking shouting and screaming, it’s making me sick. I only came here to write my book, and when it’s finished, I never want to see you ever again!”

Transforming anger

So anger hadn’t left me. Perhaps I was just suppressing it, which I am told is a bad thing as well! I started to realise, that although I was no longer really angry in trivial situations, I was still angry; and this time I was angry at the world. I was angry that people didn’t care about each other. I was angry that they were angry at each other. I was angry at consumerism. I was angry at violence. I was angry at politicians. I was angry at war.

Suddenly it came to me. If I am angry at violence, then I must still be violence. If I am angry at war, then I am war. Do you understand? It didn’t matter that I was “justified” in being angry at man’s stupidity, because whilst I was still angry I was part of the stupidity of man! I tried to find out what was causing this, and I knew then that this was an absence of love. Not love as a man has for a woman, but love for all things, for all beings; unconditional love, universal love. A love that cannot be described in words, but is an energy that affects all around it. “But how would I become love?” I questioned.

Love is not describable, love is not something you can touch; it is something that exists throughout the universe. “I must be love. I am love.” I said. “That’s right,” said a voice in my head: “You are.” And I am. You are. We are all love, but the mind – which is thought – and emotions get in the way. Somehow they block the energy, and replace it with anger and rage, which are only human inventions. They do not exist, although the results do. We are love. Every single particle that makes up our fragile bodies contains love. It is not discoverable by the scientists, who see only electrons and protons; this is something far more fundamental.

This is the stuff we are made of. But every time we get angry or fly into a rage, we disturb the balance. Why else do you think you “feel” the violent energy? The mind can’t contain it any longer, and the energy fills the room affecting every person in it. But don’t take my word for it!

Observe yourself the next time you are angry or in a rage, or when someone else gets angry at you; and realise that you only have “to be,” to allow the balance to return. Language just gets in the way. Just be. Do not speak, but, instead, allow your whole being to fill up with the love that thought has been so desperately trying to block so it gets its own way. But thought is not you. Remember that.

Things that annoy me – I am love and I let go

Things that people say to me that I dislike – I am love and I let go

Situations that happen that I can’t control – I am love and I let go…

People that say things to upset me – I am love and I let go

Things I imagine people are saying about me – I am love and I let go

I don’t get what I want – I am love and I let go

I can’t convince you that I’m right – I am love and I let go …I let the thoughts wash over my mind, like waves lapping at the shore.

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