What Are We So Angry About?


Maybe it is because I was feeling a bit hot headed myself this past week, but I seem to be noticing how many people are angry. I don’t necessarily mean that people are yelling or screaming, but that they have an air of bitterness, coldness or rudeness about them. What is everyone so angry about?

I asked myself this question a number of times lately because I have been getting frustrated, more often than normal. Usually that means I have been stretching my time too thin, wishing to be in one place, while stuck in another or disappointed that I didn’t allow myself more time, yet again, to navigate the vehicle buried in snow, the slippery roads or my ‘to do’ list that is longer than our grocery list after a vacation.

When we’re angry, it is often because there is a gap, sometimes rather large, between our expectations and our reality. That gap can be daunting at times and when it happens over and over again, we can feel like pulling our hair out!

There is a phrase that I love to repeat, when I am ready to pounce (because everything seems to be going wrong). That phrase is: ‘Try Me!’ I was driving one particularly frustrating morning and a vehicle was about to pull out, right in front of me. ‘Try me’ I belted into thin air… as I gave a stern glare to the driver, while passing.

‘Try me’ makes me feel confident and assertive. When my teeth are clenched and my fists are squeezed and my face is beet red, I know that the gap between my reality and my expectations is widening by the second. ‘Try me’ allows me to vent some stress and put up a red flag, to anyone around me, that I am right on the edge and ready to blow!

That morning, my plans had been disrupted by an honest mistake and miscommunication in scheduling, which caused me to rush out the door in my pyjama bottoms and a big hat, to go unlock a door and open a business, on my one day scheduled away from work. Our plans to do an early Valentine’s Day celebration, because my husband was working on the actual day, were derailed in an instant.

The poor co-worker, who had to face me that morning look like she had seen a ghost, as I was in no mood for chit chat. Besides the fact that I hadn’t even brushed my hair or teeth, I am guessing I looked rather peeved. “Please ensure that these checklists are completed today and tomorrow”, I sternly stated, as I handed her the laminated instructions. I then turned quickly, walked back out to my vehicle, gritted my teeth all the way home and stumbled into the house, like a dog who had been wondering lost for days.

My husband had already finished his first cup of coffee, the romantic mood of the morning was ruined and I proceeded to burst into tears and fall hopelessly into his arms. I just wanted one day off, without having to think about business or work or messages or phones. I just wanted one day of rest, where we could escape for the night, for a romantic getaway for two. I just wanted to feel like a normal human being, for one day, without responsibilities and lists and pending tasks, which ring endlessly on my phone.

After a good cry, a warm shower and a snack in my belly, we packed and headed out for a wonderful 24 hour adventure that consisted of a leisurely lunch, browsing and shopping for ‘nothing in particular’, at adorable and quaint gift shops, followed by an all you can eat crab leg dinner, a night at a charming hotel and a delicious breakfast, overlooking the waterfront. It was exactly what we needed and it was enough to feel like a real ‘day off’ and a romantic celebration.

In the long run, anger is something that most of us experience at some time, especially if we are the type to pile too much on our plate. The good news is that anger is hopefully only temporary, especially when we can express our feelings in a healthy way, problem solve and then move forward.

When anger bites at you and causes you to feel out of sorts (like when you can’t find your keys while rushing out the door), I hope that you find your own catch phrase to warn those around you, talk about what is bugging you, come up with action steps to resolve the issue and get in a good cry. Tears are quite cleansing actually!

“Anger is like flowing water; there’s nothing wrong with it as long as you let it flow. Hate is like stagnant water; anger that you denied yourself the freedom to feel, the freedom to flow; water that you gathered in one place and left to forget. Stagnant water becomes dirty, stinky, disease-ridden, poisonous, deadly; that is your hate. On flowing water travels little paper boats; paper boats of forgiveness. Allow yourself to feel anger, allow your waters to flow, along with all the paper boats of forgiveness. Be human.” ~ C. Joy Bell