Getting Angry

This morning I read the news and found myself getting angry. I was angry about COVID, violence, and other injustices. Frankly, I felt that the world was bit terrifying, dangerous, and out of control.

Guess what?

It is – and it has always been that way.

Every generation has faced its own terrifying, dangerous, and out of control version of the world. What makes today seem worse is that this is our time. This is our experience. We see our situation as unique, special, and like no other ever experienced – it’s partly autobiographical.

What makes our situation intriguing (beyond it being ours), is that we live in a highly interconnected world. A grandparent can have a FaceTime conversation with her grandchildren halfway around the world. That’s cool. It helps them stay connected. It’s part of what makes our world exciting.

It also can contribute to making our world seemingly more terrifying than ever. If something horrible happens anywhere in the world, it is immediately displayed on your smart phone and plastered across the television screen. Suddenly, your next trip is doomed, you shouldn’t go to public places, and you’d better be ticked off at ‘those’ people.

Researcher and author Brené Brown explains that the media focuses their energy on two discussion points. First, what should you be afraid of at any given moment. Second, who should you be mad at right now.

Anger isn’t inherently a bad thing. It just needs to be directed at the right thing. Aristotle said, “The man [sic] who is angry at the right things and with the right people, and further, as he ought, when he ought, and as long as he ought, is praised.”

There are three basic options in dealing with anger (or anger expression):

  1. Holding your anger in – typically not good for you because it leads to stress, anxiety, disengagement and depression.
  2. Letting it out – typically not good for those around you because they often receive the brunt of it.
  3. Controlling it – typically the best option as it allows you to calmly and rationally explore the situation and make smart decisions. JetBlue Airways’ former Chairman, Joel Peterson, recently told me that one of his mantras is, “I am not my emotions.”  The same should be true for all of us.

Getting angry is a natural and, at times, healthy reaction. If you are a thinking human being, there are many things in the world that you can be angry about. The question is: how do you channel it?

We recently lost a family friend to COVID. Like many of you, our holiday season is not going to be what we want it to be as circles will be kept small and we won’t be able to see many loved ones. Anger about COVID is understandable. This morning, I chose the ‘controlling it’ option and wrote down my thoughts in hopes that it would be helpful to you.

What are you choosing to do?

3 Comments

  1. John Hogan on December 2, 2020 at 12:00 pm

    Thanks for this Patrick. I am sorry about your friend, I have a friend suffering very badly from COVID currently. I too have felt anger at this situation we have found ourselves in. I have been reaching out to many contacts to engage and share thoughts and what we have been up to. This has really helped keep me balanced.

    • Patrick Leddin on December 2, 2020 at 1:39 pm

      Hi John – I truly hope that your friend has a full recovery. These are tough times. We need to help each other, take care of ourselves, and keep the important items top of mind.

  2. Sanjay Suman on December 2, 2020 at 5:14 pm

    Mindfulness can help.
    I am a recent convert to mindfulness and realise that I have a long way to go before I master the techniques I need, especially to control “emotions”.
    Typically the focus would be on creating a “pause” or a distance between one’s emotion and reflex response. The part of the brain responsible is the Amygdala and a great deal of practice is needed to prevent one’s emotions from stimulating this powerful region of the brain. I continue to work at it….

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