Burning Mad

I get angry. Not all the time. But often enough to make me unhappy about it. And more often these days than I’d like, though I guess I shouldn’t be surprised with all the stress going on in my life at the moment.

I don’t know whether to worry about this.

I’ve never hit my wife. I don’t get into brawls. I’ve only rarely destroyed items in my house (and the last time I did was several years ago when my mom called and told me her cancer had returned). I’ve never put my fist through a wall, door or window (though I have hit a few doors in my time). I know how to keep my Id in check, mostly.

But I have been known to swear, scream and ruthelessly pummel or twist objects that don’t break. I have a stack of old CD-ROMs I don’t need so that I can snap one in half when I need to.

I’m not worried that I’ll lose control. But I quite frankly don’t like being angry. I don’t like that there are things in my life that can quickly push me to anger (from Windows Vista to client work to family members). Anger makes my muscles bunch up and hurt. Anger make me weary with the effort to restrain it or expend it. Anger wastes my time.

I know in my heart that when these times arise, I should give my anger over to God. I should pray.

But at the same time, there are frequently times that I think, “Damn it, I earned this anger! I’m right to be pissed. Why do I have to give it up and be nice?”

As one can imagine, this causes some stress, being pulled in two different directions like that. I feel guilty or weak or lazy because I feel the anger. But at the same time, to be forced to let go of it sometimes makes me feel like I’m surrendering a righteous cause or giving in for expediency.

If you’re waiting for me to provide an answer for myself, don’t hold your breath. If you are thinking I’ll have some pithy response or answer to this problem for myself or for anyone who feels like I do sometimes, you’ll be disappointed.

I don’t even have a Bible passage to throw out right now to inspire anyone or illuminate that problem by peeking at it through God’s eyes.

No, I’m just ranting right now. And, I suppose, wondering if I’m alone in this (which I doubt) or whether anyone else has a pithy bit of advice or a winning strategy. If so, let me know. As always, the comment area is open 24/7, and there are no lines or cover charges.


6 Responses to “Burning Mad”

  1. September 19, 2008 at 8:20 am

    I have an kitchen timer (4 bucks @ Wal-Mart), I use in a discipline My pastor calls “centering prayer”. This is a term of convenience. Its basically a form of meditation. I set it to give a gentle beep at 20 minutes. My goal, in that time is to think of nothing (impossible!). Think of it as a spiritual isometric exercise, mentally straining against the immovable object, which in this case is the flesh.
    The flesh doesn’t want to think of nothing. The flesh doesn’t want to sit motionless without a television, or music in the background. The flesh doesn’t want to sit with my eyes closed unless it about getting to sleep. The flesh doesn’t want me to have control of self.
    Your little tantrums, are a game day, if you will. When anger (or any stimulus/temptation for sin) show up on game day, we lose the contest, often. Why is this? Could it be our poor performance on game day is due to the fact that game day is the only time we get any practice? I think so.
    Centering Prayer is the regular workout. The practice sessions for the event when your self-control must be exercised. The building of your “let it go muscles”, your spiritual stamina.
    I imagine you will improve over time regardless. You are, it seems to me from your writing, a self aware man, capable of introspection. Though I have not met you IRL, I would guess that you are probably a man of character. This can be a subtle handicap, much like great intelligence can handicap a brilliant child when it comes to acquiring good study habits.
    Anyway, I gotta go. hope I haven’t been an ass, or sounded too soap boxy. Good morning!

  2. 2 Deacon Blue
    September 19, 2008 at 9:49 am

    No, you weren’t an ass, Chris. Nor do I see any soapy bubbles in the air. Thanks for sharing both the strategy and the theory.

  3. September 19, 2008 at 6:05 pm

    You should get Windows Mojave. I heard it’s fantastic.

  4. 4 Deacon Blue
    September 19, 2008 at 10:12 pm

    Oh, man…I hadn’t heard about the “Mojave Experiment.” But I just gave myself an education via Google. What a sad marketing gimmick that was to try to convince folks Vista is “cool.” Geez, I want Windows XP back so bad…

  5. 5 Black Diaspora
    September 20, 2008 at 1:30 am

    The Infinity Observer:

    I have the answer Deac to a bad temper, but it won’t work unless you work it–that is, work with it consistently.

    Chris is right about being aware, but not in a judgmental way, where you pass judgment on yourself and the act–how horrible I am; that was a bad thing; my God, how I awful I feel.

    Rather, step back (and here’s the secret!) and become aware–not just aware, but “aware that you’re aware”. Do that the next time you’re expressing anger. Step back and become of aware of what you’re saying, and how you’re acting.

    In short, become the observer. Observe your behavior: I’m yelling really loud; I crushed that disk with a lot of force; my body is tightening up; my blood pressure is probably a little too high right now; what is this doing to my digestive system?

    Observe your state of mind, and your physical reaction to what you’re doing.

    You’re probably thinking, if I could become that aware while I’m expressing anger, I probably wouldn’t be expressing anger.

    And you would be right.

    We go through life hypnotized, which is defined in part as “focusing a subject’s attention,” although we’re warned to live in the moment, for the moment. I don’t seek this as an ideal. Focusing from time to time has its purpose and value, too.

    Remember that picture where the guy is shown in a hall of mirrors, where he’s looking at the back of his head ad infinitum, well, he’s the observer observing the observer, observing the observer to infinity.

    You only have to take one step back to become the “Infinity Observer.” In that hall of mirrors, the observer, no matter how many times he steps back to observe, sees the same thing over and over, the back of the head of himself as observer.

    We spend most of our lives in our head. We spend most of our lives hypnotized, focusing our attention inwardly, unaware of our surroundings unless our surroundings impinge on our thoughts.

    You can prepare yourself to handle that next emotional outburst, by becoming aware of the shifts, actually forcing them so that you become aware that you are shifting from a state of focus to one of awareness.

    So practice daily the art of being aware. Stop the hypnosis (the excessive focusing), by stepping out of focus periodically (diffusing your mind and thoughts) and being the observer, and being aware that you’re aware.

    Whitley Strieber, the writer, has built up a whole meditation practicum around being aware of the body. By practicing being aware, you’ll be prepared to use this new tool the next time you catch yourself yielding to anger, or when conditions appear which usually trigger that response.

  6. 6 Deacon Blue
    September 20, 2008 at 3:36 pm

    That’s deep, Black Diaspora. No shit. Interesting approach and angle to the problem.

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Deacon Blue is the blogging persona of editor and writer Jeffrey Bouley. The opinions of Jeff himself on this blog, and those expressed as Deacon Blue, in NO WAY should be construed as the opinions of anyone with whom he has worked, currently works, or will work with in the future. They are personal opinions and views, and are sometimes, frankly, expressed in more outrageous terms than I truly feel most days.

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