One of the reasons I love to help people with their anger, is that this emotion is the quickest and sneakiest of physical manifestations in our lives. Life is a jungle. Any one of us can be snared by a challenge or trap without notice. The insurance company can drop a mortgage-payer without any clear reason. This can be fixed. It’s not easy to do, but with enough phone calls and research, some form of insurance can be implemented. I’ve been there.
A family member can go off the rails and complicate a reunion. Maybe he’s had too much to drink and he has a bone to pick with the world. Maybe there are three or four people standing around who just happen to be in the wrong place at the wrong time and they each get to take the brunt of his rants. At least you can see him coming. It’s not a pretty picture, but the incident can be rectified.
In most cases, a disaster or hardship does come in visible form and can be figured out in one way or another. In some respects, the hurt takes time to get through. We can usually see in physical form what to deal with. A broken bone is x-rayed. An illness can be analyzed and the details about it can be put on paper. A dangerous spouse can be avoided. Even if this situation can’t be rectified immediately, it is explainable.
Anger takes control with insidious speed. It hacks a person’s decision-making abilities and gets away with a tremendous amount of wasteful damage. Anger can hang on long after there is any reason for its brief purpose. The person inflicted with the symptoms will even invite it back through revenge fantasies and other types of mindful replay of an earlier incident or expectation. This emotion lives longer than any challenge or hardship without intervention.
Why? Because anger is an emotion, which is part of being a person. Emotions are natural. We cannot do without anger, sadness or fear anymore than we can do without blood circulation or breathing.
Also, we are culturally inclined to look at sickness, violence and natural disasters as something to stop and prevent. Kids are taught in schools on how to stay healthy and safe. I think this is pretty cool. But what I notice as a psychotherapist is that unlike anger, the events and afflictions mentioned above are more categorized as outside forces. Illness, disaster and violence are alien to what we consider normal and part of everyday life.
Anger can be controlled, but it is not a subject of daily curriculum. People are dumbfounded when this emotion manifests in themselves or in others. It is a quick influence of behavior and most of us assume that it has to continue until some other event makes the angry person calm down or be satisfied. Some people even make drastic changes like relocating or quitting a job. And all the while, it is only misinformation and the lack of self-advocacy skills that lead them to the dead-end.