Thoughts & Things

The angry human being

May 4, 2020

Among all human emotions, anger may be easily counted among the most disliked ones. Anger or angry people are not much desirable in our lives. Nevertheless, anger remains a part and parcel of our lives which often does more harm than good. Reckless use of anger can upset relationships, damage emotional health and can even make us commit heinous crimes.  On the other hand, every society needs a fair dose of anger to prevent it from plunging into apathy and to invigorate itself towards radical changes and greater causes.  If you are an angry boss, or an angry parent or an angry partner it’s a bit difficult to win people around you. How do we deal with anger and what it does to us?  

The angry human being

Considering our familiarity with anger in all its forms, we may not need any formal definition for that. We encounter it multiple times in our lives every day.  Anger usually is an expression to get something done or an easy way to express our displeasure or frustration at something.   Many of us feel that anger may be the best way to get things done.  Most of the time we think that people just don’t act unless we show anger.  Some people consider anger as the most important sign that we are alive. Accordingly, if you do not get angry with an atrocious thing, there is something wrong with you. With anger remaining so widely prevalent in our lives,  we also realise that anger is largely considered as a  negative emotion which people wish to control but fail to do.  There is a lot of truth in this.  It was a moment of uncontrollable anger which made many people commit crimes which they would not have committed otherwise.  Trace the roots of many family break ups and you will see a partner who could never control his/her anger. Many children who live with short-tempered parents develop serious psychological issues.  In short, we may find that anger management may be a very important requirement to restore sanity in our personal,  family and public life. Can we find suitable alternatives to anger in our personal and family life? How do we deal with this emotion which most of us are prone to?   Can properly cultivated anger help man to become a more decisive and self-assertive individual?  

Managing anger

For those who cannot control their anger, the three main trouble spots are their relations with their family members, life partner and colleagues. Out of these, the family becomes the most delicate one, as uncontrolled anger can play havoc with one’s personal life and can even sabotage relationships.   These are also two places where far better alternatives are available to sort out things as compared to anger.   All those who use unlimited anger in family and marital relationships must ask themselves this important question. Was anger the only choice available? Could I have talked it out without a shout or throwing tantrums? Is my angry nature turning my children or spouse away from me? Is there a way to create an atmosphere where everyone in my family can approach me freely and open up themselves.   Remember that in most cases, angry parents make it difficult for their children to approach them freely.  In many such instances, children tend to conceal things when they realise that the surest reaction to their mistake is an angry outburst from their parents. This is not to say that children do not need discipline or correction at a young age.  However, if we really care, in most cases, mutual understanding and conversation can solve problems far better than anger. An atmosphere of pathological anger at home has serious implications for the psychological growth of a child. There are cases where such children tend to grow very timid and shy.

  The case is the same with spouses also. Look at the instances where unnecessary anger led to quarrels between partners.  If only one partner could control it, it would not have led to a painful separation in many cases.  Anger is not required when all that is needed is a willingness to listen to each other.  Often anger shows our inability to think calmly and understand each other. When our arguments dry up we resort to anger and shouting. These days our television studios are the best examples for our extreme inability to have a sane dialogue on something.  There is a saying that the best thing you can do when you are angry is nothing. Excessive anger numb our minds and we may find it difficult to distinguish between the rational and irrational or right and wrong.   How many times do we regret saying something in a fit of anger? The first step towards controlling one’s anger is to understand that one is prone to that.  The way to approach anger is not by suppressing or denying it but to acknowledge that in most such situations we also have an option to listen, talk and keep silence for a while.  Many a time, accepting a mistake or seeking an apology if that is required, will heal everything than all the anger we are keen to employ.

What is applicable at home is largely applicable in our workplaces too. Fear or submission is no alternative to carefully nurtured trust of the employees. There may be occasional requirements to use anger effectively. However, usually angry bosses, tend to vitiate the office atmosphere.  As in the case of family,  bosses who are accessible, who never lose their tempers and who can understand their employees create a better ambience in workplaces.

Anger, revolt  and the society

“Those who do not show anger at things that ought to arouse anger are regarded as fools” (Aristotle) Every society needs its share of anger to create a just and fair society. All of us live in unequal and imperfect societies where all kinds of injustice and oppression prevail. How much a society tolerate such injustice is an important question.   Often great changes are brought out by people who were impatient with the status quo and who were angry at the lack of liberty and justice for vast sections of people.  It is not much of obedience but disobedience and rebellion which reformed societies. This is a never-ending battle. We have numerous regimes in the world led by all kinds of despots who make life hell for its own people. We also find that even many democracies plunge into autocracies by hijacking people’s mandate and suppressing all forms of dissent. In many such democracies, except elections which are also heavily rigged, there are no other signs of a functioning democracy.   Only a properly organised public anger can make a difference there. However, the sad thing is that in many such situations, the apathy and helplessness of the general public are becoming the greatest enablers for such rulers. We just don’t have people who are angry and organised enough to challenge such regimes when it becomes too oppressive and intolerable.   

In short, we have a situation where people harbour so much anger towards each other and spoil their precious relationships.  On the other hand, we also have a reality where citizens are not sufficiently angry at the stupidity, inequality and injustice in the society they live in. This needs a correction. Remember that the right amount of anger for the right cause will heal civilisations and the ability to control anger in personal lives will make us saner and more fit to lead mature lives.

A short piece of writing like this can only discuss very few aspects of a huge emotion like anger. Undoubtedly, an understanding of the aggressive nature of man which helped him to survive at a specific time in his evolutionary history is very important to appreciate the characteristics of our anger. It is also important that the story of anger may be different for someone who abhors all forms of aggression and one who makes an intelligent use of the same. Some of you would have definitely encountered people who despite having a short temper, remains open, expressive and accommodative to others. We may also have examples where very peaceful guys remaining indifferent to all. It is also a fact that the very idea of aggression and its use is changing in society. Unlike a remote past, you rarely need aggression to get many things done today. This has an impact on the uses of anger also. The main purpose of this writing was to invite the attention of readers to this very important emotion which we need to understand and manage carefully for the betterment of all.

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