Anger


I picked up various things from my father, some good, some bad. When I was younger, I wanted to eliminate every part of my father from my actions, thinking that even one part would turn me into him. I learned over the years that was a foolish idea, and that a bad thing can be turned good, if used properly.

An axe can chop wood to provide warmth, but the that same axe could murder your family, it all depends on the usage.

My father had utter devotion, but it was only to the church. I picked up that devotion from him, but I learned that what you devote yourself to can be harmful to those around you. So now I carefully examine what I devote myself to, and I do not devote myself utterly to one thing, but I try and spread it out. My family, my people, language, living a good life, being a good person, treating others well. These things I try to do to the best of my ability.

One thing I picked up from him was the possibility of great anger. When I was 15, my brother was teasing me, and I asked him to stop, then told him to stop, then I turned on him. The memory of this is one of the strangest I have, because at the time, I “blacked out”, and that was all I knew. Looking at this closely through the years, I recall that I “stepped back” away from myself. The anger I had built up over the years was so great, when let loose it took control of me. My arms swung, hitting him over and over, while I watched from the background unbelieving and shocked. When the anger I had built up had passed I regained control and stopped. The look on his face was something like utter shock. Luckily I did not hurt him other than a few bruises.

He told me later that I had a look on my face that was just like our father had when he would “go crazy” and start beating us.

That moment was a turning point for me. I decided with all the strength I had, I would never do that again, I was not going to become my father. So I set out to understand what triggered this act, and how to keep it from happening again.

What I learned, and this took many years and many confrontations, is that anger comes and goes. If you block that flow it will make a ball inside, like little mines, the more of these mines you have and the older they are, the more fragile and sensitive they get. In turn, your emotional state will react to this. If you are like me, and do not want to hurt another person, you will form a path through the mine field you walk every time you confront someone. If you are a person that doesn’t care if you hurt another person, you will get pushed into these mines because of words or actions you somehow relate to these mines, and these triggers will set off these mines, resulting in explosive anger.

A woman once described these to me as springs, and this would also be a very good description. A spring under tension, like a mouse trap.

I want to also clarify, that besides these mines, there are things that bring about a righteous anger. Things like a woman, child, or Elder being abused, disrespect of various forms, theft, murder, these things bring about an anger that seems directly related, in my view, to justice. If justice for these abhorrent acts is promised and fulfilled, that anger is satiated. If it is not, that anger will continue until justice is delivered, or you give up on justice being exacted.

Until that justice is delivered, anytime you are reminded of the injustice, the anger will return as fresh as the first time you experienced it. Unless you move away from requiring justice, the farther away you move from the requirement, the less the anger will be.

Now, back to the mines. These do not come from righteous anger, they come from misunderstandings, disallowance of differences, old grudges, etc., that you do not let go of, or work through.

These mines don’t care where their origins lie, or with whom, they will explode on anyone. It is each persons responsibility to keep this from happening.

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21 thoughts on “Anger

  1. Anakis

    Tali, excellent topic but one that is difficult to speak of; a broad topic that I’m sure has been discussed with Elders, and those of our own family, although one of those emotions that sometimes one keeps to themselves and never speaks of, and would rather avoid. Anger and pain go hand in hand.

    It took me many years to let go of the anger that originated from my relationship with my parents. Eventually, it sunk in, as they were who they were, they were not going to change, and they didn’t know any better. I began to understand the pain they experienced, from the previous generation, that prevented them from being loving parents.

    Unresolved anger will certainly produce triggers that sets off mines, and in turn affects our present relationships, whether a child, adolescent, or an adult. At this point in my life, I am thankful for the insight I have learned over the years. I am able to let issues, which now I don’t consider issues, roll off my back, and it’s not a major thing to deal with. Our spouse, partner, or our boss has had a bad day, and occasionally we become the target of their frustration. Other issues of injustice are well worth discussing and the stupidity of others is more of an annoyance, that can be dealt with through education and facts, rather than anger.

    • It is difficult to talk about, you are right, people don’t want to admit weakness, and giving in to anger is a weakness of sorts, it seems to me.

      It can also be a shameful thing, and I think losing your temper should be a shame, but I also don’t think it should be a prolonged one.

      I think anger can be like a mistake, if it is not repeated, and not excessive. It can be dismissed like a mistake, never to be brought up again. But if it is recurring, it has to be addressed, and taken care of.

      You are right that anger and pain go hand in hand. If the pain isn’t inflicted on another, it is inflicted on yourself. But like pain, anger can be a teacher. I don’t think it’s something that should be mandatory as a teacher, if you listen to those teaching you that fire is hot, and will cause pain, you will use caution, and approach it carefully, avoiding the need for pain. I think anger can be seen the same way, those older than us, that care for our well being, Elders especially, have learned to control the anger, and not let it control them.

      I am calm inside about my father now. He wasn’t a father when he had the chance to be, and so is not a father now, that was his choice. I gave him numerous chances, when i was a teenager, to build the bridge he burnt, and he didn’t put forth the effort. I removed him from my heart, and now there is no longing or turmoil. Only an accepted loss, like a loved one that has gone on. Before I did that, I had great sadness, longing, wishing, hoping, that he would be the man he should have been. Now, he is as much a stranger to me as if I had never known him, because truly, I never did.

      Some might read those words and think there is some sort of repression. But for those of you who may think that, you do not understand what I mean when I say “removed him from my heart”.

      It’s good that you have acquired the ducks oil, and it is not an easy thing to master. I am far from mastering it, but in many things I can let them slide off.

      One thing though I cannot let slide off, and is part of the reason for this post, is the second hand suffering.

      You hear all the time the negative effects of second hand smoke for children, but few talk about the second hand anger. For those who wonder what i mean, watch the children when their parent is angry. They don’t have to be angry at the child, or even take it out on the child. They can be on the phone with a friend, family member, bill collector, telemarketer, sitting on the couch, walking down the street, anywhere. The smaller a child is, the worse it effects them, because they haven’t adjusted and incorporated the acceptance of this feeling.

      Watch a child playing, and see when someone gets angry, especially when their voice reflects it, and watch how the little one wilts. Like a fawn in short grass, they make themselves as small as possible, and they do this inside as well.

      We shouldn’t take our anger out on someone else, they did not deserve it, they should not receive it. That to me is a great injustice.

  2. I think anger is obviously many things-but I also think it is
    an inherent mechanism much the same as fear that we talked
    about earlier in your blog about fear.
    They often walk hand in hand-and like fear, the nature of anger
    will be defined by the control or lack of control, what prompts it,
    and whether it is justified, or righteous ,as you say.
    I’ve seen people who as a behavior are habituated to anger,
    the first emotion, the first response-sometimes they can be talked
    through it other times they can’t.
    Even Christians with their turn the other cheek philosophy can not
    ignore the biblical references to Jesus in the Temple and the anger
    he displayed-nor can they deny the allowance that implies righteous
    anger has a place and a purpose as long as you don’t allow the sun
    to set on your anger, meaning to feed it.
    I’ve seen people like the love everybody crowd show unmistakeable
    anger and in the aftermath say it wasn’t really anger but annoyance-right,
    anger, annoyance equals kissing cousins and not much of a clean up.
    Anger is a part of the fight or flight that fear is, anger among other
    emotions is what addresses inequities and abuses-but all too often anger
    arises as a product of ego, and that is when it is singularly destructive.
    It’s one thing to become angry at an offense and another to nurture it
    and exist in a perpetual state of anger.
    Would the world be better off without anger? No doubt, but that would
    require the removal of every inequity, every single thing that could possibly
    create anger-I don’t see much likelihood of that occurring.
    So we are left with an emotion that either we can control or allow to take
    control.
    It was anger that led us to fight when the land was stolen, and anger that
    led us to fight when our children and women were killed-it is anger that prompts
    so many to rail against the abuse women and children face, and the conditions
    the nations face-without that anger we would have been dominated much
    quicker than we were, and probably be in a worse position than we are.
    Without that same anger brought about by inequities past and present we
    might well have never pursued a single court case. We would have never said
    “I’m a Human Being God damn it, my life has value” (Howard Beale)
    So I say anger isn’t a place to visit frequently or a place to reside in, but I
    also say it can and has served a purpose, and it is wisdom to know the when,
    where, and how of that.
    Slow to anger and quick to forgive should be the way we go about it.

    • Very well said.

      I would disagree on one point though. Life without the bad is a linear life, one demensional, without texture. If life was always good, we wouldn’t ever know it was, and so would have no appreciation for it, or work so hard to achieve it, and other things would suffer.

      Should we welcome suffering, no, of course not, but we should also not wish it gone, or think it shouldn’t be.

      • I agree, and within that context any who would do likewise are
        compelled to also agree that anger is a part of the fabric of life,
        an essential element defined by the degree and the circumstance,
        or the bad as you say, that arouses it.
        Suffering can be inflicted, self inflicted, or perhaps a “natural”
        occurrence as in disease-though the “naturalness” of disease
        is open to debate-it too is a part of the fabric of life, one we all will
        contend with to varying degrees in the course of our lives.
        Suffering can invoke anger, and I think rightfully so in some
        instances.
        Kahlil Gibran, a great poet, wrote that “the deeper sorrow carves
        into your being the greater the joy you may contain.” There is a
        profoundly abstract truth in this and one that implies that the nations
        are due a joy of epic proportions long in the making.
        It is up to us pursue that-to make lemonade of the lemons we’ve been
        given as they say- and though it may seem counter intuitive, an oxymoron,
        if a focused, directed, and controlled anger is one component among many
        that will assist in achieving that then so be it.
        No one should suffer to find joy, but having done so it is deserved.
        An excellent insight you have offered concerning what you characterize
        as second hand anger, and the effect it produces upon children-people
        rarely think in such terms, but they should- and too often there is a
        linearity to anger and behavior.

  3. Anakis

    Is anger an innate response in all human beings? It can’t be escaped, but we can tame it, live with it, and make it safe, even use it to productive ends. Great discussion here.

  4. Anakis- I believe anger is an innate response and point to an infant
    as an example who is surely angry in some measure about that mess
    in their diaper, the discomfort and “suffering” it imposes.
    It isn’t a learned behavior at that age but rather an innate one. I’ve
    seen children a year or two old become angry at the word no, or not
    being allowed access to something, even with the most loving of
    parents-where does that come from?
    Such things illustrate to me the importance of good parenting, of
    examples set and lessons taught.
    The increase in acts of violence and the growing chip on people’s
    shoulders speaks to me of a lack of good parenting-in too many cases
    we have emotionally immature parents raising what will be emotionally
    immature children.
    Too many dysfunctional homes among our own and elsewhere, there
    may be recognized influences that lead to this but for me it comes down
    to one thing-choices-unless a person suffers a mental disorder or is a
    complete sociopath they know right from wrong, and ultimately they choose
    the direction they take.
    The mute testimony of a single mother or father fighting to do the right
    thing, fighting to provide a provide a positive example speaks to this.
    The fact that a single person, much less the many who have, can overcome
    what appears to be insurmountable odds attests to the fact that they are
    not insurmountable and if one can, all can.
    Being a victim is not reason enough to fail to do so-it has become an excuse.
    We have the right of expectations from our children just as they do of us.
    In a very real sense it is an invest that will pay dividends down the road-
    invest wisely and all prosper-fail to and generational bankruptcy looms.
    Love a child, love your family, your people, and friends-all are sacred-and
    by all means love yourself, not as an obsession, but enough to do the right
    thing-to be the person you are innately capable of being.

    • Anger is innate, and excellent point about little ones getting angry. But I agree we have to set a good example for the little ones. Them seeing you get angry only when someone they love is hurt shows a good example.

      It seems to me, when you go on the defensive of a loved one, anger is there.

      I would agree too that it comes down to choices, and the strength behind those choices.

      I feel very strongly that we make troubles as difficult as we want them to be, to an extent.

      But, we are victims only as long as we choose to be. Sometimes it takes a lot of effort to overcome what has happened, but it is still our choice to put forth the effort, or remain the victim.

  5. Tali,

    Again brave post touching another challenging and infite to discuss topic, after fear ๐Ÿ™‚

    In anger matter I won’t speak much as I almost don’t remember how to feel dark side of it – took those few years to learm how to maintain it and make it constructive and creative as I don’t tame it – I transform it. Mostly into physical/ intelectual work or into dance/ walk with my dog…depends from mood and strength of emotions ๐Ÿ™‚

    Best way to embrace it in my opinion is to look at no one else but oneself in the mirror ( and obseve one’s face and body carefully and witout mercy or running away from looking into won eyes/ face) to see WHAT and WHY made us angry – as then very fast we can see how laughable and pitiful we are and we look when we getting angry (plus ugly, as expression of anger,hate, fear and other bad emotions usually makes us look very ugly and destroys our beauty which comes from inner peace, smile, excitement, compassion and trusting, hoping, being inspired and motivated to act and do Good).

    Well,”Evil is necessary to understand what good truly is,” Vernon Masayesva said long time ago… (http://westgatehouse.com/art147.html)

    I will just like to humbly remind story…to think about it and it’s point BEFORE we will get angry and express it/pass it onto others again…

    http://stonefeather.wordpress.com/2011/02/02/nails-in-the-fence/

    • Anger and fear go hand in hand also, just like anger and pain.

      I’m not going to say you are wrong, as I do not know, but I will advise caution thinking that you have entirely eliminated a bad thing. It’s been my experience that is a trick, and can lead us to thinking we don’t have to worry about it. Even a righteous anger held onto for a long time can be bad.

      A lot of stuff out there about the Hopi, some true some not. I’d reiterate that people should go to the source if they want to know about a tribe.

      • Oh no Tali –

        I never said and never thought that I entirely eliminated anything – I ACCEPT it what I wasn’t able to neutralize , embrace it and NOT eliminate, I feel it to understand what and why I feel, to see what’s wrong – but I transform it as much and as soon as I can into something “good at the end” result: ironic, sometimes malicious jokes, cleaning, dance, walk, run, household hard duties, gardening/ digging (with all fury and fierce of wrath) but i invest and place THAT bad energy, bad emotion into work or motion for GOOD.

        Instead of using shout, scream, abusive words, violence, tears, blackmail, manipulation, blame, insults.

        So I don’t feel wrath- I feel only anger which I can use for doing Good ๐Ÿ˜€
        And it’s that righteous anger all the time in motion ๐Ÿ™‚

        Never held, consciously directed and what I imagine as more evil than that what I just experienced – like dirty dishes or windows to clean and laundry to make. perfect battlefield to get tired and invest strength of anger to.
        Then it’s so very easier to direct pure righteous anger at those who deserve it – name them, challenge them, defeat them and protect others from their ill/ poisonous influence.

        That’s what I wanted to say.

        And I just reminded that’s good to read “St. Anger” lyrics from Metallica…

        http://www.sing365.com/music/lyric.nsf/St-Anger-lyrics-Metallica/DCDFFB5087325DA248256D3D00088376

        • Ahh, I understand now, sorry for the confusion.

          Those are really good ways to convert anger. Hard work has always helped me use up anger, pushing myself when I’m tired, bring up something that I am having an issue with, begin the anger, then forget the trouble, and get lost in the hard work.

          Really appreciate you bringing that up, thank you so much.

      • Yes, now you saw thing I wanted to show ๐Ÿ™‚
        That’s what I precisely meant .

        Begin the anger, BEING and anger – then forget the trouble and release emitions get lost in the hard work.

        Thanks for your time you spent reading my words and grateful and happy we speak about same thing and we see that – in spite of using different words and descriptions ๐Ÿ™‚

        • I also appreciate you pointing this out. Different descriptions, but saying the same thing. Many don’t see this in others, spouses especially, so many arguments come up over this, simple misunderstandings.

  6. I haven’t a single problem in stating that in defending a loved one, the people,
    a woman, or a child, anger at times can be part of the motivation, and I certainly
    won’t make an apology for that.
    But we all seem to be in agreement about the onus to control and not be
    controlled by it. I think the worst thing a child can see is the parents in conflict, I
    believe it creates an insecurity in them and spousal abuse has been clearly shown
    to lead to the same in children as they become adults-just as addictive behavior
    often does-and anger can be an addiction.
    Children are both sponges and mirrors-they absorb what they experience and
    reflect it back-there are exceptions to that, but they are exceptions and not the
    norm.
    Anger can be very subtle in the way it insinuates itself. Think about it honestly-have
    you ever been angry because you’re comp didn’t do what you want, or because you
    broke something, had to stand in line, got stuck at a traffic light, didn’t get a promotion
    you thought you deserved, cranked on a wrench and skinned up a knuckle?
    We can learn, condition, ourselves to avoid such petty reactions-much more difficult
    with larger issues that warrant it.
    I couldn’t help but think during the course of going through this topic and others in
    your blog of the well known “seven deadly sins” which are as follows:

    wrath, greed, sloth, pride, lust, envy, and gluttony.

    That led me to think of Gandhi and his comparable list as follows:

    Wealth without Work
    Pleasure without Conscience
    Science without Humanity
    Knowledge without Character
    Politics without Principle
    Commerce without Morality
    Worship without Sacrifice

    Of the two Gandhi’s resonates more with me-but the validity of both remain the same
    whether a religious connotation is attached to them or not. In one way or another all
    have been addressed in your blog and mine and speaks to a commonality of
    understanding people have-wrath as listed is as we all know about anger.
    But these things are in the end about choices-what we chose and what we don’t-
    hopefully we will be aware of the choices we make, the reasons we do so, and strive
    to make the correct ones.
    Again, a good blog, and hopefully one that will prompt a little self examination as we
    read it and a look at the skeletons in our closet.

    • Wow, Rezinate,

      Rezinate,
      Thanks so much, your comment here is perfectly and exactly what I was looking for today ๐Ÿ™‚

      Well also you gave great jigsaw – combine those both together as Name and Description.
      Thanks for great riddle. It so great to combine ALL teachings I already know – as they fit to each other as hand to glove …explaining a lot of misunderstandings among people and interpretations…

      Still trying to solve it tho ๐Ÿ˜€

    • To Gandhi I will dare to add Lao Tze teachings:

      Without Love โ€“ Lao Tze

      Duty without love creates annoyance.
      Truth without love creates criticism.
      Worthiness without love creates arrogance.
      Education without love creates contradiction.
      Justice without love creates hardness.
      Order without love creates pettiness.
      Knowledge without love creates dogmatism.
      Power without love creates violence.
      Honour without love creates pride.
      Faith without love creates fanaticism.

      ( letโ€™s add โ€“ Life without Love creates loveless lifelessness )

  7. I don’t think people generally are into the subject of anger as a topic
    of conversation-we have lives to live, decisions to make, jobs to
    do, homes and children to tend, a myriad of duties and pursuits
    that fill our days, but it is good we have chosen to here.

    It may sound to some as though as I am an advocate for anger, or an
    angry person-that isn’t the case-I enjoy a calm and peaceful environment
    where the loud outbursts are due to laughter and glee, where the hand
    that touches you is always soft and loving-but there are things to fight
    against, and in a very real sense anger serves a distinct purpose in that.

    In such a circumstance it can become both a shield and armor,as such
    it serves a good purpose-anger due to it’s frequency for some can become
    a dull knife, that in comparison can inflict more damage than a sharp one
    because it requires more force to wield it-children shouldn’t play with knives
    and adults shouldn’t play with dull ones for that very reason.

    • Think if anyone reads your words and sees an advocate for anger, they don’t understand what they are reading.

      Excellent point about the dull knife.

      • I wouldn’t say it better myself, Tali !

        “…if anyone reads your words and sees an advocate for anger, they donโ€™t understand what they are reading.” Fully agree with you. ๐Ÿ˜€

        From little curiosities about those…deadly sins mentioned here to start discussion to see BOTH sides of anger I would like to show a one description:

        DEADLY SIN WRATH:

        Greek แฝˆฯฮณฮฎ (orgฤ“) wrath.
        Latin – Ira (Wrath).

        WRATH (red)- IS ANGER associated with violence, violent reaction, or acting out.

  8. A quick post script: LaoTze, Gandhi, and others illustrates that wisdom
    and understanding are not the domain of any single people.

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