Angry Much? Here's How to Use Logic to Cope

Michael Loren

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Photo by DIEGO SANCHEZ on Unsplash

“So, what’s wrong with me?” I asked my adorable but maddeningly intelligent therapist.

“It seems to me that you are dealing with a significant amount of anger,” she replied.

No duh, Sherlock.

Finally, a statement I could agree with — yes, I am a very angry person. As I would have said in middle school, “Duuuuuhhhhh.”

However, if you told this to any of my friends and acquaintances (other than my husband), they would be shocked. Michelle? The sweet, graceful-in-any-social-situation, supportive, and kooky soul? Noooooo.

Sometimes, the angriest people are the ones you would never expect.

I’d like to explain to you how I have helped mitigate my feelings of anger over the past few weeks in hopes that it might help those of you that either interact with angry people or who deal with your own internal pet banshee. (Mine’s name is Wanda).

Defining anger

I may be late to the party with this realization, but experts often refer to anger as a secondary emotion. When we get angry, we usually feel something else for a split second first. Creducation says that, “. . . we tend to resort to anger to protect ourselves from or cover up other vulnerable feelings. A primary feeling is what is felt immediately before we feel anger.”

So . . . anger isn’t really anger? Yep. I mean, it is what it is, but it’s like my son playing hide and seek under the laundry. Yes, there is a lumpy blanket on the couch, but it’s obscuring a giggling toddler. The most important part of that object combination is the kid — not the blanket. Why? You can move the blanket. The kid is a dynamic entity and is significantly closer to my heart than the blanket (though, I do own some fantastic blankets from West Elm).

In this example, anger is the blanket and, according to MAAT Shani Bell, the wriggling toddler underneath can be “deeper and less comfortable emotions like sadness, guilt, embarrassment, hurt, fear, etc.” My personal analogy is that when my anger spikes, I bust out my porcupine quills. However, my porcupine quills unfurl internally instead of externally (that issue is a whole other article in itself).

My ridiculously talented and endlessly patient therapist then asked me to tell her what was underneath Wanda-the-seething-banshee’s current tantrum. I paused. Then, I quietly uttered, “Hurt?”

“That sounds right,” she said.

Cycle of anger

Apparently, anger is cyclical. Something happens, you experience negative emotions related to this event, those negative emotions produce an emotional response, you take some kind of action, and then (sometimes) that action can either be or cause another triggering event.

https://img.particlenews.com/image.php?url=2B1A35_0YCjFe8r00Screenshot: Fuller Life Family Therapy

The screenshot above is from a parenting website, by the way. Which makes me mad. Why? Well, let’s dig into why. I searched for “cycle of anger” on my browser. The first thing that popped up was a parenting website. <Triggering event>

Seeing this information on a parenting website caused me to think, “OMG. Great. I’m apparently not enough of a grown-up to have learned how to handle my own emotions.” <Negative thought>. I then get angry. But, underneath that anger is shame that I am not the evolved human that I thought I was (and also my pride was pretty hurt as well). <Emotional response>.

My anger, hurt, and shame then cause my heart to beat a little faster and my hands to get a little shaky. <Physical symptoms>. Now, here we are at a crossroads. This part of the cycle of anger is an action. A reaction, per se, to the physical symptoms; an expulsion of energy — the negative energy created by this situation.

THIS IS WHERE I’M TRYING TO INCITE CHANGE.

Normally, I would take action in a negative way. I would write an angry email, yell at my husband, or mentally insult the people who created this anger cycle thing and pick apart the grammar in their writing.

Instead, I am beginning to choose to look at the logic of the situation. In this case, I am writing about it.

Learning to throw off the anger blanket

Some things are terrifying from afar, but when you look at them up close, they’re not so bad. I am beginning to learn that, rather than taking action when faced with my negative emotions and physical reactions to my anger (read hurt/fear/anything else vulnerable), the action I can take is analysis.

When I really take a look at what is under my blanket of anger, most of it doesn’t make logical sense. Yes, there are some ways people have hurt me for which my anger is completely justified. However, logically, hurting myself further by dwelling on my anger and hurt is like watching Artax sink into the Swamp of Sadness all over again (anybody else royally effed up by that scene in The Neverending Story?)

I’m not a psychiatrist, but I can tell you that when I take time to stop, recognize my angry states, look to see what is underneath the anger, and then think logically about the process that occurred to get me to my current state, my anger seems to dissipate.

I love hard facts and information and I’m not so great at the whole feelings thing, so taking time to lay out the connection between the external, the internal, and the game of telephone therein helps me choose to take a more positive action to mitigate my physical symptoms.

I’ve been doing some experimenting with what can help calm my beating heart and my compulsion to lash out, to criticize, and to hurt others. Know what it is? Reality television. Good old Real Housewives of Wherever, Million Dollar Listing Anywhere, and the perennial classic, Project Runway.

Wanda shrieks in her banshee voice that watching television is a waste of my time and that I should be conquering the world as I squish as many people under my Louboutins as possible. My quieter inner voice tells me that Bravo is helping me learn to be a more adjusted and healthier individual.

At the end of the day, again, I am NOT any kind of psychologist, therapist, or, for that matter, example. I am learning, though, day by day to be a better human and if this article has helped even one person, it has not been for naught.

I encourage you to, if you feel stuck under a blanket of anger, find someone to talk with. (Again, I’m the opposite of an expert in this field). My witty and wise blonde therapist-angel has literally changed my life in so many ways. And if you (like me) have anger over talking to someone about your anger . . . well, just know that you’re not alone. Once you get out from under the blanket, you can breathe a little bit easier.

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Professional writer and journalist with concentration in data analysis. I specialize in interpreting data to give you unbiased, understandable information related to the state of California.

Los Angeles, CA
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