Truth Bomb Tuesday: Is your anger hiding something from you?
Why are people so angry all the time?
Doesn’t it feel like the world has become an angrier place, people yelling at each other over the internet all the time?
And now Australia has become famous for those women who a dust-up in Woolies over toilet paper.
But I have a theory.
My theory is that anger is running interference – it’s an emotion that stops us from feeling the feelings we don’t actually want to feel.
For example, I had a friend who’s husband left her for another woman. That was almost twenty years ago, but she’s been angry ever since.
She was done wrong by, sure. Her anger is totally justifiable. But the anger just doesn’t serve any useful function anymore.
My feeling is that she subconsciously keeps herself angry so she never has to feel sad.
So long as her anger stays front and centre, then she can never go into the grief and sadness that is waiting for her.
Anger is running interference. It’s protecting her from emotions that she thinks are too painful to deal with.
Or what about people shouting at each other on the internet? It never ceases to amaze me that people can get drawn into slanging matches with strangers they’ve never met.
My theory is that if people are feeling angry, then they don’t have to feel the overwhelming and humbling confusion that comes from living in insanely complex world.
Anger is running interference again.
Or what about the angry hypocrite? The person just above the poverty-line who gets angry at other poor people who steal soap from motels, or bludge a few extra dollars off Centrelink.
They’re not getting angry at the rich and well-to-do. They’re not raging at multinational companies posting a billion dollars in profit and paying zero tax. Their anger is reserved solely for other poor people.
Is their anger just a way of blocking their shame?
Anger is a safe emotion.
It’s a safe emotion because it’s publicly acceptable – walk down the street with an angry scowl on your face and it’s totally normal. And it’s a safe emotion because an angry person isn’t vulnerable. They’re actually pretty scary.
But if you’re sad or confused or in grief – then you’re vulnerable. And no one likes feeling vulnerable.
And so anger is a safe emotion – we feel comfortable going there. And when we go there, we can crowd out the other emotions that are just too painful or too scary to feel.
And so maybe, beneath the angry exterior – behind the scenes of our digital slanging matches, the dust-up in Woolies – there is actually an ‘epidemic of fragile’.
Maybe the reality is that we are just all confused, sad, fragile and overwhelmed.
If only we could see how much we have in common…