We seem to have evolved into an angry and hateful culture. The anger is directed at our government, big business, organized religion, media, and even our own families. We’ve been disgusted, appalled, horrified, and disturbed by how institutions and powerful entities have handled problems and conflicts. The anger may come from feelings of betrayal/deceit, loss of control, or from tremendous fear regarding the direction and future of our society. The incredible changes in the world that have occurred in the last 15 years as it relates to terrorism, the advancement of the internet, and the change in cultural norms have impacted us in a huge way. Whatever the root of our anger, it is good to remember that anger is a secondary emotion and fear, hurt, and sadness often lay under the outward anger. Our fears related to the future of our country and its leadership greatly contribute to the current, simmering anger.
Unfortunately our anger has not been channeled for the good or resulted in positive change. People tend to be more cynical, negative, critical, pessimistic, and downright apathetic these days. We are more polarized as a nation and can’t seem to work together for the common good. In addition, we have gotten caught up in the blame game avoiding taking responsibility at all costs.
So what can we do with our anger? How can we use it for good? It all starts with our immediate family which we have the most control and influence over. If we can consistently be kind, supportive, and compassionate with the people we’re around the most, chances are they’ll respond favorably. So much of our communication is in our delivery. Using profanity, yelling, putting others down, or being overly critical and harsh only perpetuates anger. Instead, find the positive in others and lift them up. Practice smiling more often, even with strangers, and asking them how their day is going. Don’t be in such a rush, let others go ahead of you, and spread good will. In short, practice patience with others.
Of course, many people have strong opinions about what should be done with issues outside their own families. Most would rather voice their negative thoughts than take any action. Some might say, “I can’t do anything about it,” which is just not true. We can write letters, make phone calls, vote, volunteer, express a message on social media, and ultimately express ourselves. Why would we chose to do this even if the outcome doesn’t change? Because taking action helps reduce the anger and gives us some sense of control. Another important way to manage our anger is to let go of the things we have no control over and accept our limits. The serenity prayer summarizes this point best, “God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; courage to change the things I can; and the wisdom to know the difference.” Don’t allow your anger to imprison you; free yourself from your anger.