Psychology for living: anger makes things worse

Gwen Randall-Young

Psychology for living

Life presents opportunities daily for us to get caught up in polarity, negativity and conflict. Whether it be something in our personal lives, our work situation, or a global issue, anger can be triggered. We may justify our anger based on the actions of others.

Some may say that another made them so mad, as though that person caused them to behave as they did.

This way of thinking allows the angry one to take no responsibility for their behaviors. It is important to clarify that we are talking about angry behaviors, not feelings.

Something can trigger our anger, but the way we respond is totally our own choice and responsibility.

If you do not agree with this, what would you say to a husband who beat his wife, and argued, “I wouldn’t have had to hit her if she hadn’t lipped me off.”

This is a knee-jerk, primitive response, and as a civilization, this has not served us. It is clearly time to evolve beyond this way of thinking.

Look at our world today. Never has there been so much divisiveness.

Individuals, families or groups may find that conflict becomes a central facet of existence. There is always something, or someone, to rage about, either silently or openly. However, true joy is impossible in an angry heart, and anger never brings peace.

Marshal Rosenberg, a global mediator, did not seek to get parties to agree about their interpretations of the situation. It was about ceasing the fighting, and then looking for options both could live with, despite their differences.

I remember spending hours building intricate sand castles at the beach. Soon the waves began lapping at the edge of the structure, and eventually washed it away. In the end, the beach was completely smooth, flat and pristine, with no sign of what had once been.

We are no more permanent than the sand castle. Time laps at the edge of our lives, and will ultimately wash away all signs of our existence. The same, eventually, will happen to our entire species.

Of what consequence will be our battles with individuals or nations? What will it all have been for?

As individuals, and as a species, we must ask ourselves how well we are utilizing our evolutionary potential. What separates us from other animals is our ability to think, plan and communicate with each other. Whenever we fight, we are at our most primitive.

Yes, there will be problems, disagreements and differing viewpoints in any situation. We must care enough to consider the other’s point of view, and work to create respectful relationships where we can work together to find solutions.

The time will come when we are all gone. There may be no memory of our existence on this earth. Somewhere however, our souls will carry the memory of how we lived here, and how we treated one another. Gwen Randall-Young is an author and award-winning psychologist. For permission to reprint this article, or to obtain books, CDs or MP3s, visit Follow Gwen on Facebook for inspiration.