Take Anger, for example
Monday, June 25, 2012 at 1:38PM
Elena Taurke in Feelings, Feelings, Method

When you get angry, do you feel a rush of energy?   Or is it more like anxiety and constriction?  Do you berate yourself for having the feeling?  Do you berate others for causing it?  Do you fear what will happen if you act on it?

Of all the emotions, anger is the most complicated because it gives rise to both impulse and inhibition at once.  All emotions signal a command to action:  Are you anxious?   Then run!  Now! ).  

The problem with anger is that not only are we really not allowed to murder people, but we've been told since day 1 (ok, maybe 121, but still, pretty early) that if we are angry, we are bad and wrong and...crazy...also ugly....and...well, maybe it's just me but it's a rare duck that really surfs with anger.   With all those nasty descriptions, it would certainly seem like a better idea to not get angry.  But we do anyway, right?  So we try to hold it in.

So, then when we were 20something maybe we got the idea that we should let it all out.  We went around telling people the truth about the way I feel.  Except that the way you feel is likely to be some unsupported opinion that will make the other guy feel really lousy, so he says something nasty right back atcha, and by then it's too late to realize that you didn't really exactly mean it.   And did you ever try those bonka bats, or screaming into a pillow, or ripping up a phone book?  Did it help?  

So, what to do?  Maybe nothing.  Consider meditation, but even if you don't, notice that the  feeling rises and then fades if you don't do anything about it.  The trick is that mostly we do something; in fact, we reinforce it with our thinking.  As soon as we think we are bad to be angry, our helpful mind will find reasons the other guy is much worse.  But that seems unfair, so we attack ourselves some more.  Now we're depressed.  

Try nothing again.  Notice the range of feeling.  Be specific.  Be curious.  Notice the thoughts that spin with each sensation.  

After enough of this, see what is left over.   Now you have the clarity to understand what conditions are giving rise to anger.  Now, change the condition.  Take effective action.  Thank anger for being your teacher.

Article originally appeared on PsychoZen (http://www.psychozen.org/).
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