An Examination Of Anger
An Examination Of Anger
“Ultimately, if I am enraged, it doesn’t hurt the other human as much as it hurts me.”
What is anger? To some, it is an excess of energy running through the body. To some, it is fuel to add to the fire of productivity. To some, it is just an emotion, and to others, it is the only emotion. I’m no stranger to the heat of anger; I once believed that I was born evil, that I contained all the world’s anger, but now I realize my boy Borrelia burgdorferi had eaten away at so many of my neurons that anger is often the only way my brain is capable of dealing with the world around me.
The way my brain attempts to work is as follows: I can be in a great mood, feeling as though the Universe Herself is sat in the palm of my hand, and then some insignificant little thing will happen. A rude human will say something stupid, or I’ll fail at doing something one too many times, or maybe I didn’t get enough sleep the night prior, or maybe my left shoe is tied just a little bit tighter than the right one; the point is, I can go from an angel to a pseudo-murderous asshole in zero seconds flat. It’s out of my control, and it weighs on me quite heavily.
Lately I’ve been searching for answers, or at the very least for help in controlling this seemingly unavoidable rage, and I stumbled upon a video of a short talk given by Abraham Twerski. In this talk, he breaks the cycle of anger down into three parts: the feeling, the reaction, and the gripping of the feeling after it would have normally passed. I found these ideas to be very profound, so I decided to write out a meditation based on them.
Here we go.
The first stage of anger is feeling the literal feeling of anger – in his talk, Twerski appropriately names this stage Anger. In our hearts, human beings are wild animals; we’re hairless apes who, in my opinion, spend our entire lives attempting to hide this plain and simple fact not only from each other, but from ourselves, and we don’t do a very good job of it at all. When we get provoked, we feel a primal, animalistic anger, and no matter how hard we try to bottle it up and push it down into the depths of our subconscious, it shows. There’s really nothing we can do about this, either; if you’re out there doing your thing, whatever your thing might be, and somebody gets in your way somehow, you’re going to feel some type of animosity towards them.
Feeling anger, feeling the natural reaction when an especially high-piled platter of bullshit is dropped in front of you? That’s unavoidable. However, you can make moves to force your brain to not pump the anger chemicals through your system, one such move being taking things into perspective.
Twerski uses a lesson taught to him by his father to explain how to accomplish this goal; when someone did something that made him mad, his father would simply say What he did was so foolish, if only he knew how foolish it was what he did, he wouldn’t have done it. I feel sorry for the human for being such a fool. This statement, when you actually realize it from thought into action, transforms your anger into pity, into sorrow for your fellow human being. Pity and anger don’t quite occupy the same end of the emotional spectrum, and they certainly don’t go together either. How can you be mad at a human for whom you feel sorrow? You can’t; when it really comes down to it, you can either hate the human for being a stupid prick, or you can feel bad for them for having to live with such a closed mind. For me, just saying to myself how bad I feel for the inspiration of my anger at the given moment doesn’t quite cut it; I usually need to sit and meditate or run a few miles for the anger to truly fade, but honestly? At the end of the day, everyone is different, and living with anger in your soul can only bring you pain. Do what you have to do to let it go.
The second stage, called Rage, describes how one reacts to feeling anger. Plain and simply, one must do their best to control their reaction, the end goal being to not allow your reaction to affect the environment around you, animate nor inanimate. Admittedly, I am now a lot better at controlling my rage than I used to be; I’ve punched a few holes in my walls, blown up on friends, burned bridges, the whole nine yards. I don’t do these things anymore – the worst I do now is raise my voice to levels at which I feel pain in my throat – but I’m still learning control. Rage is just part of the human experience, part of being alive on planet Earth, even.
I once had a cat [read: adopted son] named Milkshake who harbored quite a temper when he put his mind to it. Usually I could pick him up and toss him around in a playful fashion and it would be fine, we would have fun. But when there were too many loud noises going on or when he hadn’t had enough to eat or didn’t get enough sleep, or sometimes when he just wasn’t in the mood, Milkshake got angry with me and reacted with rage, the rage of sharp teeth and razor claws piercing into the flesh of man; the little bugger did some real damage, let me tell you.
The thing is, though, Milkshake (as far as I could tell) didn’t have the mental capacity to control his rage, he had no choice but to react. Well, I thought that, until I caught the dude opening the door to the closet where we kept his food; regardless, we are human beings, we have one of the most evolutionarily advanced brains in the Universe, as far as we can tell; we are capable of controlling our reactions and emotions in the moment, and for that sole reason, we must. Gaining this control is not something that happens overnight, over the course of weeks or even months, but over the course of years, in some cases over the course of a lifetime. It’s one of the most tenuous things a human can do.
That being said, just because something is hard to do does NOT mean one should not do it. If anything, that should be a hint telling you that you should do it, but I digress.
The third stage is called Resentment. This stage is the holding onto the feeling of anger after all the bullshit has passed. After you’re done feeling that rush through your system, after you’ve properly reacted in some sort of way, you still blame the other human for making you mad, for being such a prick. And who can blame you? If they made you that mad, they probably are a prick, and they probably don’t care that they made you feel so awful. Resentment isn’t healthy though, it only makes things worse, only breeds more anger in your system until the day comes where you forget what it’s like to feel anything besides that dreadful anger.
In the video, Twerski recounted a lesson he learned from Alcoholics Anonymous, and I would like to quote his quoting of said lesson: “Hanging onto resentment is like letting somebody live inside your head without paying any rent.” My watching of this random video was not the first time I’ve heard this quote, and I doubt this is your first time being exposed to it either, but it still rings true. While it seems like a very kind thing to do, allowing someone to occupy your thoughts for free, you still have to pay a cost, and that cost will only get more expensive the longer you pay it.
Similar to controlling your reaction, letting go of resentment is one of the most difficult things for a human to accomplish. One can so easily lie to oneself about how one is feeling, and usually the lie is good enough to be believable. You can sit there and tell yourself and everyone around you how you don’t care, how the other human is a stupid prick and how you’re just so above that shit, but if you still feel the anger inside, well, you are still angry. In my experience, both meditation and running for miles on end (or a combination of the two, if you can fathom such a thing) are powerful tools in the letting go of resentment, but one needs a very open mind for meditation to work. One must find their method, for it does exist – one just needs to be willing to change oneself for the better first.
Lastly, there’s a phenomenon Twerski brings up that struck home with me: feeling guilty for feeling anger. Like I stated previously, anger is just a human reaction, an animal reaction. Unless you operate at an Alan Watts level of Zen, you’re going to encounter anger – you simply don’t have a choice. That’s precisely why feeling anger doesn’t matter. What matters is how you react to the anger.
Nobody is perfect, no matter how perfect they think they are, and everybody has bad days. To assist in controlling anger, Twerski suggests keeping an anger journal of some sort. Write down what happened and how you reacted, and then at the end of every day, go back and read it, asking yourself Was that really the best I could have done? This is how you learn from your experiences, how you grow as a being: by examining yourself and making changes based on what you don’t like.
An example I think everyone can relate to: getting mad at parents over stupid shit. Not every time it happens, mind you, but the next time Mother pretends she doesn’t hear what you said when you speak directly in her ear or the next time your father stares unblinkingly at the TV as you try to talk to him, you might get pissed off. It surely won’t be the first time you’ve felt anger towards your parents for behaving in a certain way. I used to feel guilty about getting angry with my parents, but in reality, they’re just like me: human beings trying to do their best in a world that harbors a seemingly self-destructive society. Feeling bad for feeling bad is no way to stop feeling bad, and as obvious as that might sound on paper, some humans never realize it.
No one is thinking clearly when they’re provoked into anger, they’re under too much pressure – pressure to react, pressure to assert themselves over the provoker, pressure to not feel this way as soon as possible. And this is okay. What is not okay is holding onto the anger for what really amounts to nothing more than egoism. If you’re angry at someone, talk to them about it, try to resolve your differences. Even go out of your way to make up for it, for no other reason than it being the right thing to do; even Milkshake would go out of his way to cuddle with me after he slung his claws and the fur flew. If a cat can have the sense to do something like that, surely a human can too.
Anger may be a mandatory part of life, but rage and resentment are nothing more than malignant cells just begging to be amputated. All you need to do is find the right knife.
To be trapped in a cage,
maned like a lion with an untamed temper,
simple words vicious enough to make you cry,
if I try.
And try I do;
you fucking buffoons better tie me to a rocket
and shoot me to the moon
and hope, nay, pray that some aliens don’t stop me
and try to save my life,
because I’ll slaughter them all for not intervening sooner.
A spectral beam shooter
controlled by the ship’s computer,
tempting to push the but’.
I swear to god,
I refuse to stop,
this fucking world’s getting blown up.
fear a poem,
my symbols on this paper,
it swallows up the spark.
Solitude, a cold winter day.
Watching a leaf flit through the air
over a pit where the last smoldering ember
I spit as the blood leaves my hands.
An icy grip comes over my being;
feelings flee as a once bright soul
chooses to sit alone in the cold.
To be accepted rather than misunderstood,
to be placed on a pedestal
for the good I try to accomplish
while instead the others fear my expression,
cold like stone and
, carved from a block of wood.
Snowstorm, snowstorm, a white cloud blocks the sky.
I peer out my window,
what appears before my eyes?
The dry ground,
no branches bent low under the snow.
No blanketing of blankness, no reason not to go.
Snowstorm, snowstorm, work is slow today.
An hour in the first flake falls,
I still don’t feel awake.
The radio plays the six same songs
every single day,
while we sit watching the snow fall,
wishing to be away.
Snowstorm, snowstorm, crystals turn to rain.
It pours down from the heavens;
clouds form inside my brain.
Pouting faces work ‘til five,
slush plowed the same as snow by Queen Bee.
This fucking job is driving me insane.
Left out in the cold,
getting that old shoulder like a boulder rolling into the sea
off the Cliffs of Dover.
It gets old, so what am I supposed to do?
Blackballed and opposed by my own fuckin’ high school.
Appalled, un-paid, de-ranked because of…
wait, they never told me.
Allegedly they hold themselves to a higher pedigree
all the while staying cliqued up like a fuckin’ baby seat.
In the North, South or West,
one would have to strap on a vest,
but not in the East.
Just eat the moldy wheat baked into your bread
while you fake up a character livin’ only in your head.
Wake up, take a gander at the man in the mirror
inside your manor on the hill, pop some pills
and fill out your goddamn day planner by hand,
or by a minor that you pay
like forty-nine‘r fifty cents a day
to slave away chasin’ paper they won’t be taking
to their graves.
You punk pricks need your own parade
to get it through your thick skulls, it’s all a big charade.
Now fuck your pig wives and sip your Hateorade.
I’m over this like a dove,
wings whiter than snow that it uses to fly above
the lowly Cliffs of Dover.
One In The Chamber
Every single time in my life I’ve sensed some danger
and was pushed towards it anyway;
that’s one in the chamber.
Give the benefit of the doubt, just ignore all their anger,
you should help them out anyway;
that’s one in the chamber.
Every human who calls me friend, beeping me like a pager
to treat me as a means to an end;
that’s one in the chamber.
Every human who fancies themselves some kinda trainer,
ordering me like I’m an animal;
that’s one in the chamber.
When humans act holy then shift like a shape changer,
wearing a mask like it’s their face;
that’s one in the chamber.
Humanity’s been lost, traded for comfort and Haegar.
The magazine’s full now,
all the slugs in their chambers.
I’ve felt this way forever but bottled it like container;
I’m not pulling any triggers,
this is just a piece of paper.
It’s pretty cold out here and there’s snow in my shoes.
I’m confused, screaming at the sky,
“The fuck’m’I supposed to do?”
from sitting inside a box all day,
trapped with my thoughts and now the cold’s
soaking through my socks.
But yet I walk,
through the slush along a muddy path in the dark,
texting with a voice and feeling lost
inside my own heart.
But my hands are numb.
It’s hard to type when I cannot feel my thumbs
and all that’s on my mind is the urge
to shoot a gun.
But I keep pluggin’ along,
dragging my sluggish feet as frozen raindrops fall
and dilute my view of the screen.
The more I peer into the light, the darker the world seems.
And now my legs are cold,
the snow’s melting through my jeans.
There lies a certain beauty
in days like today
when the sky is cast over
with serene shades of gray.
The forest drips of winter,
sheets of ice clasped ‘round branches and leaves.
the ghosts of what lie beneath.
They melt in little drops, pattering my head.
I’m reminded with a chill that,
though dark, lifeless, stiffer than dread,
the elders are not dead.
Nay, merely dormant,
waiting with great anticipation to fall like water
off the edge of a waterfall.
To the Earth they cascade; what then?
It is too soon to tell.
The trees stand wrapped within their ghostly shells.
Stalagmites of ice stand proudly before the cave.
lost in eternal slumber,
Bleaker than night,
shaggier than a bear and thinner than the wing of a bat,
it casts fear in a gust of wind
that takes nothing but the hat from your head.
Its bread and butter dwells in the mutters of lost souls,
the young and the old who came before
cast astray from the light of day.
The ground is soak,
puddles of tears shed by wanderers.
They freeze in towers,
teeth and fangs,
standing at the mouth of the cave.
I Forgot I Wrote This
Another day spent in darkness feeling all alone…
time to conjure misery into another poem.
Make the feelings go away for at least another day
until they return with baggage
and let me know they’ll stay.
Pushing me out of the way and setting up a shop,
chopping down my trees
they plant seeds for crop.
Really what I’m doing here is crying for attention,
because the others are scared away
by my “psychotic tension.”
It was never my intention to end up like this,
I swear it’s just what’s happened.
I ran fingers through my hair and felt bone cave in,
and I’ve been different ever since.
Or maybe they hear keywords
and decide that I am finished.
I was always that guy who just sat there quietly
when the rest ran their mouths
trying to figure out me.
Instead of saying Hi or asking me What’s up?
they drank the spoiled Kool-Aid juice
someone poured into their cups.
But like I said,
I’m just writing this starving for attention.
It’s easier to talk my shit and stir up false contention…
Keep In Touch
Keep in touch.
Hearing those words used to put me in a huff.
Like, what the fuck is stopping you from keeping in fucking touch?
Like, what, are you too busy building up a fucking bluff
just so I can lift you up from outside your fuckin’ rut?
Then I realized, that attitude stinks worse than a butt.
The others aren’t malicious, their lives just fuckin’ suck.
They’ve lived the groundhog’s day so many times they’re fuckin’ stuck
placing bets on a lottery, hoping for a stroke or luck.
If that’s true, then all my sub-peers must be stupid as fuck.
Trading their paper for other paper, it all amounts to…
Disappointment, plus another brew poured inside your gut.
I say, livin’ on a prayer must be pretty fuckin’ tough.
But then I realized, this world is pretty fuckin’ rough.
The humans do their best, but they’re running out of trust.
The parasitic Gov’ offers hand in silver glove demanding piece,
then sends our boys to war, brings ‘em back unable to sleep.
And you’ve got kids to feed, an ass you’ve gotta bust,
‘cause it’s the only way you know how to clean off all the rust.
I hope to leave this place one day,
and when I do, we’ll discuss
how much I enjoy your presence,
and my hope that you…
Keep in touch.
This has been part II of the book A Lyme-Brained Rhyme Game. Here is everything you need to know about it:
A Lyme-Brained Rhyme Game
- A satirical poetry anthology about an author returning to his roots and evolving
- Book stats:
– 150 pages
– 26,692 words
– Spiral: The Highest One Writing | Arc: III
– Series: W-63 | Entry: 3
– Revision Date: June 11, 2021
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