If you know me, it’ll be no surprise to you that I get cross about things. Ranty, on occasion. Downright furious, too.
Being angry is, in essence, “I don’t want” + oomph.
Where geeks and gifted people are concerned, there’s a hell of a lot of oomph. Geek intensity makes sure of that.
Anger comes in many forms and guises.
There are the obvious shouty ones. Sniping sarcasm and digs. Ranting and raging.
And whining, oh good lord, whining, which is simply anger finding its way out through a very small gap in Mr or Mrs Nice’s nice facade.
There’s also the “I’m not angry about this, it’s just…” incessant going on and on about something in carefully level tones while declaring that you’re purely being “rational” or “non-emotional” about it, which is such a blatant cover for abject – and disowned – rage that it makes me cross just thinking about it.
Having dealt with a lot of anger through the years, I’ve come to know what it’s on about. What it wants. How it can help me.
Anger tells me what I want, and what I don’t want.
It tells me what I’ll tolerate, and what I won’t.
It shows me what I value and hold dear, I what I think is, quite frankly, bollocks.
Through anger, I’ve connected with my deeply held values of justice, fairness, honesty, and truth.
These are the values that burn so brightly underneath, fuelling my actions when I encounter injustice, unfairness, lies, and deceitfulness. Though to most people I probably just look and sound pissed off, there are a lot of solid values there. My job as an aspiringly-responsible-and-ethical adult is to bring these values more into focus and to drop the anger into the background (or just go and sound off about it in private until I’ve worked through the anger, know what’s driving it, and can resume communication from a more in-touch with myself and my values position).
There’s the anger of failed expectations too, when something that should do something, doesn’t in fact do that something. From minor irritation to outright rage that an object, solely designed and created to satisfy a single purpose, totally fails to do what it’s designed for.
Geek rage at inanimate objects can be formidable indeed (and unfortunately amusing to non-geeks who just don’t have the same depth of feeling for effectiveness, elegant solutions, and so forth; these same non-geeks may well respond unsympathetically to geek frustrations, further provoking and alienating us geeks…).
Then there’s the anger that’s the bodyguard for sadness. Sadness is “I’m separated from something I love.” Grief, too.
Anger protects me from the sadness; it blocks my feeling the sadness. But until I feel the sadness, the anger doesn’t go away.
If I handle only the anger, I’ll be handling the anger for a long, long time, and even then it won’t resolve.
When I stop and feel under the anger, I feel the sadness, I hear my heart, I pay attention, and it serves me far, far better than just being angry.
So next time you feel angry, stop and look underneath it. Find out what it wants to tell you. Ask yourself a few questions:
- What do I want that I’m not getting here?
- What do I not want, that I have?
- What values of mine are being trampled right now?
- What expectations do I have that aren’t being met?
And take some time to listen to the answers.