You Won’t Like Me When I’m Angry

Tonight, we’re going to talk about our feelings.

No, seriously.

You can work to swallow them, hide them, or even pretend that they don’t exist. But feelings are a part of us, and without them, we’d all be Cybermen.

(Personally, I like to sing to in the car to expel my emotions. Performing a concert live where no one can hear me sing the wrong words and notes makes me feel like Beyonce, and we all know that no one can hurt the queen’s feelings.)

It was during one of these solos inside of my car that I realized something about one specific emotion: anger. Anger is unlike any other feeling because it is so fleeting. It transforms too quickly to envy, fear, sadness, or even apathy. We don’t really experience anger all that often, at least not in its purest form.

But when we do experience anger, and here’s where my revelation comes in, we are not angry in the way that we have made ourselves believe. Have you ever realized that when you are angry at someone or something it’s because they didn’t do what you expected them to do instead of being angry at them for what they did? Isn’t anger then simply surprise and confusion?

Think about it. When you were younger and you did something wrong, oh say, stuff a lot of tissues in the porcelain throne to see what would happen (like I did), you can probably remember that your parents were pretty angry. Or at least, you could probably guess that they would be very angry if you did such a thing. Why? Because you did permanent damage to the toilet? Maybe. But they could buy another one. Because you purposefully tried to break something? I guess, but you were just a kid.

No, it was because you weren’t acting as your parents were expecting you to act. I don’t know why, but most parents simply assume that their children will wear halos and do what they are told. And everything we know, from fairy tales to television shows, tells us that this is not true. So, kid goofs off, parents get angry, kid gets punished, kid promises never to do it again (with variable results).

Think of another situation. What about when you forget to buy something for your anniversary with your partner? Why does he or she get angry, you ask? Not because they really wanted a present, and not even because this is probably the fifth time you forgot. (Although, yes, it is probably the fifth time you forgot and that sucks for the other person.)  But the reason they are probably angry is because you are not acting as they’d expect you to act. 

Consider one more scenario. You have a best friend. You develop feelings for him or her. Then, when you build up the nerve to tell this person, he or she tells you that they are not interested, but they would like to stay friends. You, in turn, are angry. So, you declare yourself eternally in the “friend zone” (which does not exist) and proceed with whatever course of action that scorned lovers take. But really, you guessed it, you are only angry with your best friend because he or she did not act as you expected. This causes feelings of mistrust and hurt, and that’s understandable. But it isn’t your best friend’s fault for being honest with you.

Essentially, you need to evaluate the situation the next time that you find yourself angry at someone or something. Most often, you will find that you are angry because things didn’t go the way that you were expecting them to. And if you are going to be angry about that, then you are going to be angry for the rest of your life.

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