Blowing a Fuse


Photo by Jon Fingas

Anger is a very natural emotion. We have all experienced it, and though some people may be more mellow than others, you’re lying if you claim to never get angry. Depending on who you are, the frequency of your anger may vary from a once a month rant in your shower to taking up kickboxing as a cathartic hobby, but the fact still remains that no matter who you are, anger is something we all deal with. The question, though, is whether or not we should be expressing, or suppressing, these feelings.

Really, whether you are going to act on your anger needs to come down to evaluating how serious the situation at hand is. Now, we all love to be petty, and yes it may be slightly annoying to receive the wrong order at a drive-through, but what is the rational response to that? Throwing your incorrect order back in the drive-through window? Suing? Cursing out the employees into next Thursday? Or asking them respectively to fix your order? The answer here is, of course, obvious, as it is the one that not only gets you your correct order but also avoids degrading other people for a simple mistake. This situation may be a bit of a hyperbole, but you should be asking yourself the same questions here as with any other situation you’re considering acting out of anger, those questions being: “Is this an over-reaction?”,”Is this going to solve my problem?”, “Does this needlessly hurt other people?” and “How else could I deal with this situation?”.

According to Psychology Today, the two main reasons we get mad is out of fear, and the need to regain control. It sites being able to recognize these hidden motives in yourself as an effective way to deal with misplaced anger, so if you are someone with a short fuse, realize that self-awareness is half the battle.

But what about when anger is justified? Certainly, there are some scenarios that warrant being mad, how can you distinguish these situations from the petty ones?

Many of these come down to a lack of other options. When you are not being heard on a situation that you consider vitally important, you just have to scream. If you are being forced to something against your will, you have to lash out. If you want to change in this world, and nothing is being done, you become the change you want in the world. Most, if not all, human rights movements have been a product of rage against an unfair status quo, and where would we be today without those movements? To this day anger is inspiring change, as on March 24th people across the nation marched on the white house and their respective state capitol buildings for the #marchforourlives movement—a movement created in response to America’s gun legislation.

The big takeaway from all this is that anger’s usefulness comes down to the discretion it’s used with. The message I don’t want to convey is that anger is a purely negative thing, and should be bottled up. Instead, just take the time to make sure that the way you choose to express the more irritable side of yourself is done with consideration for those around you.