This is an interesting question that I was asked on Quora. At the time, it raised an issue I had not previously thought about.
Indeed, usually, people question how to reduce anger.
As I thought about it, there are people who claim that they do not get angry.
Indeed, I can think of at least three types of people who do not get angry.
- The person who, for whatever reason, never perceives any injustice in the world. As even the Dalai Lama has said that he gets angry, this type of person would be very rare.
- The person who does not recognize that they are angry. I will discuss this person in the next post.
- There is the person who gets angry but does not express it. I believe that this is the individual to whom this question applies.
Anger is one of the five basic emotions (mad, sad, glad, fear and disgust). Everyone develops these emotions. Some are present at birth and others develop over time. The message of anger is that we are facing a threat that we believe we can eliminate if we throw enough force at it.
The word threat is in italics because each of us defines and perceives situations as threatening in different ways.
The word force is in italics because some people overreact and become unnecessarily aggressive when angry, others use just enough force and assertively handle the situation, and still others do not use enough, or no, force to handle a genuine threat. (They know a threat exists but choose to do nothing.) This is called passive, or non-assertive behavior.
Looked at another way, anger is a self-protective mechanism that automatically turns on when you believe you need to take action to prevent some sort of harm from taking place and you have the capacity to take that action.
As I noted in my last post, anger is both a messenger and a motivator.
There are two components to anger which are relevant here…
1. the perception of threat
(This is the messenger component.)
2. the belief that you have the ability to overpower and eliminate the threat and the physical preparedness to take action
(This is the motivator component.)
If you perceive a threat that will harm you and which you can’t eliminate, you will feel fear NOT anger.
Getting back to the question…
Your anger will increase in direct proportion to…
1. the level of threat you perceive in a situation
(The more threat you perceive, the greater will be your anger if you believe you can do something about the threat.)
2. the extent to which you believe your values, goals, plans, finances, family,self-worth, etc are important enough to protect and defend
(You must believe that you are, important. If what you are, do, or believe have no value, there can be no threat and, therefore, no anger.)
3. the extent to which you believe you have the knowledge, skills, and ability to defend yourself against the threat you perceive.
If you want to increase your anger, you will need to examine two aspects of your life.
1. How important or significant do you believe your values, your possessions, your beliefs, your self-image, your friendships, your sense of right and wrong, etc are?
This question may expose you to issues involving self-doubt, low self-esteem, or personal self-worth you may not have been aware of. If this happens, you can seek professional help to sort out the issues that arise.
2. How capable do you believe you are to assertively handle challenges to your beliefs, your values, etc?
This question will alert you to any deficits you may have regarding interpersonal assertion and self-expression. These are specific skill sets which can be learned and there may be a need to get some outside advice/training specific to you and your situation.
When you believe you have something to defend and you have the skills to do what is necessary, your anger will be proportionate to the threat and will energize you to take action.
I welcome your comments.