The benefits of anger

I don’t think I have an anger problem. Maybe I do. I’m not sure. I like to think I get angry about as much as anyone else. Although I’d prefer to think I never get angry, but that would be a total lie and would 100% indicate an anger problem.

Today was not a great day. Starting from a bird pooping on my hat before work, to a long day at work, to butting heads with someone, to apologizing because I felt like an ass about it, to finally getting off work after an 11 hour shift.

It was a long day. It was a rough day. It was not my finest.

Not a lot makes me “feel like an ass.” Really, the only thing I can think of is “acting like an ass.” And as far as I can tell, there are two types of people in the world: “Those who feel like an ass after acting like an ass” and “Those who act like an ass and feel nothing.” And while I’d rather not act like an ass at all, of those two choices, I’d much prefer the first. The second just seems delusional.

But after I was doing with my assery, then struggling to eat during lunch, then apologizing, I got to writing ideas.

My original plan for this post was to write about “things I learned from retail.” But the more I got to writing my thoughts, the more I realized how much the post was going to be fueled by anger.

And I hate anger. It’s the worst human emotion. There’s no upside to anger, other than the fact that it proves you are at least somewhat human.

But there are things that come from anger. Lots of things, including:

1) Heart attacks. In Michael Crichton’s book Travels, he talks about his time in medical school, and one part in particular stands out to me: Heart attacks. Crichton describes talking to heart attack patients, and developing the habit of asking “Why did you have a heart attack?” And the answer was never things like “I eat too much meat.” or  “I don’t exercise.” Instead, the reasons are usually connected to things like stress or anger, like yelling at someone for screwing something up.

2) Clouded judgement. The fact that I almost wrote an angry post is proof of that. It would have even been worse if I had written it and had posted it. Even right now, thinking back about that anger is making me want to rant about it. And ranting–in any capacity–is not a healthy way to handle emotion. It only serves to amplify it.

3) Bad habits. I tend to eat when I feel overly emotional. Not necessarily immediately during the feeling, but often in the aftermath. I’m sure if I took an evaluation, I’d find I’m a stress eater. It would shock me more to discover I’m not. And anger leads to stress, all the time.

4) Strained relationships. People have limits. They’re also resilient. Everyone can handle a certain amount of frustration, but eventually there will be a falling out. And the best way to handle a strained relationship is to avoid it in the first place. Whether it’s work, family, a significant other, or random guy you know from a place, it’s always best to cherish relationships and not strain them through unneeded anger.

5) Shouting matches. These don’t always come from two people physically yelling at each other. Sometimes, they do. Other times, two people may be in disagreement and they argue in a hushed tone. Or maybe they’re two strangers online with differing opinions and they both feel the need to become aggressive on social media. Shouting matches and arguments tend to never solve anything, except for the amplification of anger and frustration.

6) Opinions. Some opinions are fine. Everyone has opinions. But people rarely voice their opinions in a respectful manner. Especially when it’s a hot-button issue or the person is already angry. Anger takes our opinions and turns us into a warrior, ready to fight to the death to defend our stance. And there are hills worth dying on, but none of them are angry ones.

7) Apathy. After a fit of frustration, I just have a hard time caring about anything. It sucks. Unless I offend someone, this is my least favorite result from a bout of anger. General apathy can mess with your job, friends, and life as a whole. It can change anger into sadness or depression or stress and sometimes it’s a hole that’s hard to dig out of. Like with shouting matches, the easiest way to deal with apathy is to avoid anger in the first place.

I’ve always been an emotional person. I was frequently teased in high school for it. I’d go find a place an cry for a while. I still do that from time to time. But anger was always an emotion that rarely came on it’s own. I’ve learned over time that the more I write, and the more I try to live life better, the less anger and aggression sneaks up.

Everything is a learning experience, and taking something away from screw-ups is how we can prevent them from happening again.