I used to have a lot of anger problems. A lot of it had to do with depression, which for me, caused irritability and angry outbursts. I'm not so prone to anger any more but I continue to think about anger and its potential to creep up on me and interfere with my new-found (relative) freedom from it.
I think one reason for the abatement of anger in my life is that I'm in a very good relationship: one where I can be myself and still feel I deserve the love and attention I get, even when I'm far from perfect. Another reason is the maturation process. In terms of feeling peace and acceptance, getting older agrees with me.
Where I continue to struggle is in my reactions to people when they express anger, especially when it seems misplaced and misguided. To me. If I see little reason in the anger and negativity beyond that which I can change; even in myself, I then feel a strong need to eschew that person and cut them out of my life; at least to an extent that is possible. I've done that with a relative; with whom I have to stay somewhat in touch but with whom I no longer engage in bitter struggles with myself over. The other came more recently. I decided that what I'd gained from the relationship was so old and stagnant, that it didn't merit the time and attention I would need to give the person to try to understand their anger and negativity. I've asked myself if this was selfish. And I'm still trying to answer that question.
One of the things I've discovered in attempting to answer that question is that the anger displayed toward me personally by others, which goes beyond what I can do myself to turn it around, just causes me to become angry back. It's all too much a reminder of how angry and defensive I can become in the face of what I consider to be unfounded anger on the part of others. That isn't to say that anger hasn't been directed at me personally in the recent past which has gone ignored. It has and sometimes with just cause. In those cases, where I value and love the person, I'm working on seeing their point of view on what makes them angry at me and I try to change that, if I can. Sometimes it takes several conversations and strong emotions and a lot of work. But it's worth it, for the other person and for me.
But I have to admit that otherwise, I avoid angry, negative, defensive people whenever possible. I wonder if I'm depriving myself of lessons potentially learned or if I'm preserving my energies for those struggles that are really worth it.
We all become angry, frustrated, irritable and defensive at times. Mostly toward the ones we love and care about the most. I understand that and I'm trying to learn from it. Is it selfish of me to avoid those other, peripheral angry people? Or is this protective mechanism a good thing for me.? I have tended to conclude the latter most of the time. But I go back and forth. Avoiding the angry has worked for me. I admit that it's worked for me because I honestly lack the emotional energy to take it on. If it's one thing about depression that has stayed with me and no amount of peace or happiness or medication can take away, it's a limited amount of emotional energy. I don't mean the happy kind, as I'm sure you might guess. I mean the negative, complex, exhausting kind. Again, it's the people I love I try to save this emotional energy for. Even then, sometimes it's difficult to rise to the occasion as well as I'd like to. Sometimes I even fail miserably. I'm working on it.
I'm mostly concerned about how unavoidable, peripheral people affect my attitude toward anger and toward myself. For example, at work. I work with one person on my team who presents a lot of challenges for me. I can't avoid her, so how do I deal, right? She doesn't overtly express anger but instead engages in what some would and have called passive-aggresive actions. I have tried to ignore them, I have tried to talk to her about it (without referring to her as such) and have gotten nowhere. It causes me to worry about my own responses,which are mostly directed inward. I have so little to go on as to why I cause this person to be so angry with me, as she refuses to be forthcoming about anything that I can change. I can only guess and say it's her problem but it doesn't make the situation any easier on a day-to-day basis. It sucks so much energy out of me to deal with her. And deal I must - as in, next week when school starts again.
What role does anger play in the quest for self-awareness and inner peace? What do my reactions to anger say about me? How do I avoid defining my life as a series of emotional struggles? Or should I just accept it as such; both personally and as part of the human condition?
I have more questions than answers, as usual. Though I have far more of a clue than I did years ago in even asking these questions. For that I'm grateful.
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