The Issue With Anger
One day I was on my phone when I should have been doing something else, and I was reading one of those advice columns where someone wrote in about her husband who apparently had an anger issue and wanted to know how she could support him. The supposed “expert” responded that she should leave her husband immediately, no questions asked. I couldn’t believe how this person could give such drastic advice without so much as having an actual conversation with this woman or her spouse and it struck me as another example of how our society does not know what to do with anger. We don’t know what to do with it, but we have a lot of it. The most recent plethora of mass shootings shows a population that is at a boiling point. In the Vedic world view, we are in a time of Pachaka Pitta, which means everything is really hot. Hot tempers, hot planet. Wars, forest fires, melting ice caps, these are all signs of increasing heat. The world needs a serious cooling down. Meditation cools the collective. When molecules get closer to absolute zero they become more organized, as they get hotter, there is more disorganization. In more scientific terms, entropy increases as temperature increases. Stress is like disordered consciousness. When we meditate, we are pulling the whole field back towards organization and unity. This is one of the reasons why meditation is not just an act of self-care but is the number one thing we all need to be doing to help with the mess we’re all in. So that’s the world but what about individuals? Anger is one of the ways people react to stress. Whether anger is your go-to when your nervous system becomes dysregulated has a lot to do with your type of physiology. Some people tend to get more depressed, some have anxiety and some have tempers. Just different sides of the same stressed out coin. However, because of the outward and at times explosive nature of anger, people who lean this way often can do a lot of damage and their reactions have a dramatic effect on those around them. It’s because of this that they are often more vilified for their behavior than say, someone who is curled up in their room in the dark with a bag of Oreos. Being painted as the “bad guy” only isolates the person and makes them even more dysregulated. And should they try and repress their anger to avoid the stigma, it could be even worse for their mental health. I personally don’t tend to feel angry when I’m stressed (unless it’s PMS time, in which case, look out) but I do have a partner who is very Pitta (which in Ayurveda means he has a fire-y personality and body). This also means he is very determined, very exacting, very passionate and has a very quick temper. When it’s hot outside, it’s even worse. I used to be horrified by his anger. Just like our society, I didn’t know what to do with all that raw expression. I couldn’t understand it, I took it personally. He said I treated him like an ogre when he was upset and he was right, that’s how I saw him. I would have said demon, but close enough. It wasn’t until I was pregnant with our little boy, and I would get these odd flashes of, the only way I could describe it was rage that I started to get it. I asked him, “what is this?” and he said, “welcome to testosterone.” I suddenly understood that he couldn’t help it any more than I could help it when I was depressed. (Some people say depression is repressed anger anyway so they’re really not so different). I believe we as a culture need to better understand anger, both in ourselves and out there in the world. We need to stop vilifying it and seeing it simply as the dysregulation of the nervous system caused by stress. It’s the fight of the fight or flight. We need to respond to those who are angry (especially if it's ourself) with love and understanding rather than blame and isolation to help diffuse the anger rather than adding fuel to it. And lastly, we need to just keep closing our eyes for twenty minutes twice a day to do our part for people everywhere. And the polar bears.