Monday, January 11, 2010

Battles

Recently, I read an article in the Independent on Sunday. It was an opinion piece by the author Tim Lott about anger. Given that my level of anger seemed to reach whole new levels at the end of last year (levels that have, fortunately, since decreased), I was interested to read his thoughts on the matter.

Tim Lott acknowledged that there are different types of anger and that there are a range of sources, but his view was the majority of the anger exhibited these days comes from a sense of “insult” or “negation”

But much anger in the modern experience is neither righteous nor artistic, nor does it arise from the threat of physical harm. The anger that occurs most commonly comes in reaction to a purely symbolic threat, in response to a sense of insult, or negation. This threads through every day, through every life.


Mr Lott basically sees the anger coming from people feeling as though their identity has been undermined or belittled, their sense of self being removed. Of course sometimes this is only in the person’s perception, rather than some overt (or actual) attempt to do this by others.

I thought this was a really interesting take on the matter and that if I were to look at those things that make me angry often I think it can be boiled down to that sense of being undermined or ignored or not seeming to be acknowledged in some way or my voice being ignored – think of that person who pushes in front of you on the tube as though you aren’t even there and the sense of anger that can swell up. Over the weekend there was another story of someone who died following a queue jumping incident. Of course, there are probably all sorts of things that we don’t know about what happened, but on the surface it looks like it fits with Tim Lott’s assessment.

So that’s the diagnosis, but it isn’t the solution, which I think is probably pretty hard to achieve. I guess the answer, at least in part, is about people trying to empathise more with others or letting it go when they are slighted or learning that what others think of us is not really all that important in many circumstance. It’s more about mutual respect than trying to make sure people show us “respect”. I think there are real things to reflect on about what Tim Lott said – around looking at situations that make us angry and asking what the source of that anger truly is. We can’t usually change other people, but we can change ourselves, and sometimes learning to deal with our own demons and sense of self in different, less destructive, ways could save many a battle.

6 comments:

anothercookiecrumbles said...

As a teenager, I was very hot tempered (terrible teens)! However, in last couple of years at school, and three years of University I had conquered it. Last year, though, was an all-time low. And this year, unfortunately, it seems to be continuing in that vein. I am seriously contemplating anger management therapy!! Inefficiency, incompetence, things not working, me being spacky, someone telling me off/dissing me for no fault of mine etc just triggers the sleeping demon - it's awful! Getting angry almost always means having to apologise, as well as being mortified. It honestly sucks!! Oh well, that's what Metallica is for! :)

Random Reflections said...

anothercookiecrumbles - I think there are an awful lot of people who could do with anger management therapy! As you get older you will probably find that you get more angry about more and more things so tackling it now would be a great idea. I hope you have a peaceful and non-confrontational day ahead.

Kahless said...

Does not our source of anger stem from the incident transporting us but to childhood and us feeling powerless?

Random Reflections said...

Kahless - very possibly. Although I guess it doesn't always have to be childhood, as I guess it could be a very negative experience from another time. I think a lot of it probably comes down to powerless though (for me at least).

Although, I wonder if for some people comes from a sense of entitlement, which in itself can be a negative thing.

Food for thought.

Sarah said...

Perceptive post, Random. I can empathise with what you suggest, but acting upon it would be the tricky part...

Random Reflections said...

Sarah - yes, I always rather fail on the delivery...