Anger

I have been thinking a lot lately about anger. What do you do when you get angry? What’s the point of getting angry? Does it have a purpose? Is there any way of dealing with anger that doesn’t simply stir up more of the same?

Apparently psychologists agree that we have six basic emotions: joy, sadness, anger, fear, surprise and disgust. (I read that in a New Scientist article about how some studies are showing evidence for several more to add to that primary palette: confusion and elation amongst others.)

I guess it’s not all that difficult to think of the uses each emotion would have had in our survival.
Of the six basic emotions, anger is perhaps the one that we’re least comfortable to express.

It’s tough to know what to do with anger. Joy shared is multiplied; sadness or fear shared seems to dissipate. Surprise is so transient that it’s hardly something that you’d ever stew over, and even disgust is relatively momentary. (My most recent experience of disgust occurred when I stepped accidentally and barefoot on a slug on my kitchen floor. The resounding ‘pop’ and sensation of exploding slime still elicits enough disgust to make me want to scrub my feet and the floor now three weeks later. Urghhh!!!)

But … anger. Sharing it never seems to help anything, certainly not at the moment it erupts. Pretending it doesn’t exist is even worse though – then it seems to work like a pressure cooker, building up until eventually you blow your top. (Yes, that’s you, all you road rage culprits, swearing and tugging at your hair and pulling signs at someone going just a few kilometres too slowly next to you so that you can’t pull in front of that irritating Opel Corsa and zip in front of the irritating minibus taxi and … save a whole seven minutes on your way home. Seven minutes, I say. Seven minutes. Or five. Or even ten. Just doesn’t seem worth it.)

So – anger. What makes you angry? What do you do with anger when you get it? Can you remember it after it’s gone? Just wondering.

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About Lisa

I live in South Africa with my husband and two small children, doing things, thinking about things and sometimes writing about them.
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2 Responses to Anger

  1. Adam says:

    I am surprised that ‘shame’ is not on the list.

  2. Lisa says:

    Interesting question.
    The five additional contenders were:
    – elevation
    – gratitude
    – interest
    – pride
    – confusion.
    From the article:
    Pride … differs from the Big Six in being a “self-conscious” emotion. Like shame, guilt and embarrassment, it requires a sense of self and the ability to self-evaluate. “In order to experience pride,” [Jessica] Tracy [of the University of British Columbia] says, “I need to think about who I am, who I want to be and how the event that’s just happened reflects on me and my ambitions.” Nevertheless, she believes there is a strong case for thinking of pride as a basic emotion.

    You may need to be a subscriber to access the article, but I heartily recommend a subscription:
    http://www.newscientist.com/article/mg20527431.300-five-emotions-you-never-knew-you-had.html?page=1

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