Over the last couple of years, I’ve been trying to lessen the presence of anger in my life. Yes, it sounds hokey when I say it like that, but I really don’t have any other language other than that to describe what I’m trying to do. I think it has more to do with our attitudes toward our emotions than it does with any inherent hokeyness of the sentiment; it sounds weird because we’re uncomfortable talking about the opposite of anger.
We’re comfortable talking about being surrounded by and embracing anger. We’re not embarrassed by talking about how angry we are at work, how frustrated we are with our spouses–we’re not uncomfortable making fun of our spouses and how shallow they are, or how shallow and useless the opposite sex in general–we talk smack about everything. We insult people constantly. Peace and love? Those things sound hokey.
I can’t say I’m over my anger, but I am starting to get a handle on it.
When I’m tired and stressed and down, it’s easier to be negative. When I don’t have the energy to deal with things, it’s easier to be angry and defensive. When I’m tired, negative things are more funny, although I haven’t ever gotten to the point where seeing people getting kicked in the crotch is hilarious. I’m starting to separate anger from “the way things are, the things I take for granted” to “well, that’s poisonous and will probably start a vicious cycle today.”
It’s meant that I’ve had to back away from some people; it doesn’t matter whether they’re right or wrong, because they drag me down for the rest of the day. I still love a good argument–but if it looks like the other party just wants to lash out rather than hash out differences, I have to back away. Do you argue to be right, or to present your ideas and learn new information? I don’t care whether you’re right or whether you’re on the same “side” as I am: if all you’re doing is ranting, I really ought to go. I try to wait out the short rants, because everyone has flareups, but if it starts to set me off, I’m better off walking away.
I’ve noticed that a lot of people are unthinkingly hateful, angry, spiteful, and judgmental–and will outright lie to back up their actions–and I know I’m still like that, too, but at least I can see myself doing it at the time, even if I can’t always talk myself out of it once I get started.
It’s a bit early for a New Year’s Resolution, but here’s where I’m going next: I’m going to start interrupting myself to give myself a chance to react positively to situations. “You don’t have the energy to deal with this. Why not put it off until later, when you do? Why not apologize for being cranky? Why not do X for a while to see if it help perk you up? Why not assume the other person has the best of intentions…they just can’t read your mind?”
I can’t say that I’m trying to switch from pessimism from optimism. I’d rather say that I’m trying to switch from saying, “Who filled this @#$%^& glass, anyway?” to “That was @#$%^& delicious! What’s next?” I’d rather be the old lady dancing naked on the table than muttering to herself in the corner, and lessening anger might get me out of the corner, but it won’t help me have any fun.