I find anger particularly fascinating. If you observe your workplace, chances are that every once in a while someone breaks down in anger and creates a scene.
Most folks find these episodes intriguing for the gossip value but I see them as a treasure mine for getting an insight into the human mind. I observe people with anger issues really keenly because generally they are really nice human beings with an intriguing weakness. The amount of pain they inflict on themselves and others is beyond the realm of sanity and yet, if you think about it psychologically, the pain they inflict and the anger they demonstrate makes so much sense. This is a post on anger and why people with anger inflict so much pain on themselves.
Anger As The First Emotional Tool
Anger is by far one of the first emotions human beings experience when we are born. The infant is hungry, it doesn’t know how to ask for food because it hasn’t learned to speak yet. What’s the first thing the kid does when it wants food? Cry as loudly as it possibly can. Technically, the first anger tantrum the kid has thrown. And it’s incredibly effective.
Mother knows the kid is hungry, mother feeds the kid and the universe resumes it’s normal course in the mind of the kid. The kid just learned two things in this episode. The first thing is that it’s own discomfort means the end of the universe. His universe revolves around him. The second? That he can save his own universe by getting angry at others and throwing a tantrum.
As the kid grows little older asking for things he loves by throwing random tantrums becomes a habit. He subconsciously (much like he learns walking or talking) embeds anger as a tool to get things he wants and uses more of it. Chances are that you have seen kids throwing anger tantrum on the isles of stores.
Now the kid grows a little older. He is playing a game with his friends and he looses. What does he do? Rage quits. And by doing that, he conveniently escapes the humiliation of being made fun of, by simply getting angry, quitting and leaving the scene.
Next day no one remembers and he is on the field to play a new game. If they remember he can continue to feel really angry for a couple of days. That allows him to not interact with his friends till they finally forget. By being angry he is able to escape the humiliation of loosing.
Emotions As Tools For Survival And Cuteness.
The emotional tools that we learn as kids help us navigate this complex cultural world and help ensure our basic survival. As the kid grows older, the parents have a responsibility to ensure that the kid learns a host of emotional tools. Anger is just one of them.
Cuteness is one more and Humour is another. As you get into adolescence you also transition from cuteness to sexiness, healthy flirting and seduction. None of these acts or expressions of emotions are ‘bad’. In Fact, the mental health and overall success of a person depends on how many of these tools they have control over and can use effectively.
Cuteness: Kids and How Do You Start Them On Cuteness.
Look at this video for instance:
That’s the video of an Indian YouTuber who vlogs every day. And even though I am not a big fan of vlogs, I follow this vlog once in a while because it provides a solid insight into a lot of dynamics of how a healthy functional family works.
In the above video at 1:52, you see the father, teach his daughter the art of hard work to get something. At 3:25 you see him teach her cuteness just when she is about to throw a tantrum. She wants him to play a song on his phone. The father insists that she ask him in a polite tone and in the process of doing that he steers her away from anger and towards cuteness.
It’s a recurring theme in all his videos. As a result, he provides his daughter with multiple tools in her arsenal of emotions. Now she knows that hard work and cuteness are other ways of getting what you want. The entire channel is full of these videos where emotional tools are at display in the working of a healthy highly functional Indian family.
There is very little to no anger this dude showcases to the kid. When you shout at your kids to tell them not to shout, all they see is an adult shouting to get what he wants. Flying Beast does none of that. Just mature parenting.
None of this is deliberate. No one is planning this training and yet a healthy functional child evolves. The more emotions you train the children to leverage the more their chances of being successful and in the above video the kid is off to a really great start!
The Power Of Humour And Seduction
If you belong to a conservative family where the words like flirting and seduction have a negative connotation associated with it, your children will be at an disadvantage in life compared to families where it’s not.
I’m not talking about shameless reckless lustful flirting but every human beings needs to master the art of some healthy flirting and seduction. If you can’t laugh, flirt healthily or seduce people with your charm, chances are that your marriage is in trouble. And so are most of your other interpersonal relationships. If you come from a background where these words immediately sound a negative connotation in your head and you see them as bad words, you’ve lost half the emotional battle of life even before you started fighting.
Cuteness And Seduction: Is A Serious Art.
To start understanding the power and the basics of a simple word with a traditionally bad connotation take a look at this video:
The video is a little cheesy and a little over the top, but the fundamentals covered are all solid and the message is worth spreading.
Seduction is such a powerful tool between married couples too. Cleopatra used it to literally control and make Caesar fall in love with her and then subtly dominate him. Take a look at this video and see it to the end to know more:
Seema’s theory is that Cleopatra had full awareness that she was with a powerful man, Caesar. He could have anyone he wanted and yet Cleopatra was going to make him fall in love with her. Her tool of choice? Give him all the happiness in the world and wire his brain so that he associates her with happiness. Seema argues that the approach worked and because of it Cleopatra practically ruled the world.
Anger As An Excuse For Not Learning To Use Other Emotions!
The fundamental problem with anger as an emotional tool is that it is universal. Remember the kid who cried her way to get a candy when she was young? Now she is older. But She can still get angry and get her spouse take her on a vacation. If her spouse loves her, chances are, that her anger tantrum and some silent treatment will do the trick and she will soon be on a beach spending some quality time with her partner. Anger works, so why practice seduction?
Remember the kid who rage quit when he lost the game? He can still quit his job and run away at the first sign of discomfort or humiliation and because he is talented, chances are that he will find another job. Anger works, so why practice tolerance and experience pain?
Anger is so effective that once you start using it, you really don’t feel the need to learn any other emotion as a tool. No wonder we have women in prime time televisions shouting out remarks like, “I can’t smile just to get help or work done out of my spouse, I’m not a sl#t!” or men with remarks, “I can’t smile at him just because he is my boss, I am not a suck up”.
The reality? These dudes and gals are so effective at using anger they don’t feel the need to learn how to use any other emotion. Using other emotions is too much work for them. Their universal solution to all problems is to get angry. They are not bad people. Some of them are humans with a golden heart but a singular emotional tool in their toolkit.
The Problem With Anger Is that It Always Works!
Feeling humiliated at work? Rage quit your job. Too much work at home? Get angry at your spouse for not contributing and stop doing all work. Once you get used to using anger as tool, it gives you a license to do anything. Quit your job, stop executing your responsibility at work, stop doing chores at home, stop contributing financially towards your family even if you are the only earning member. Or just quit. You are angry! It’s all justified.
You forget that you can work hard and develop a friendship with your boss to overcome humiliation at work. It’s easy for you to disregard the fact that you can smile and ask or even seduce your spouse into contributing and helping you with chores. And you ignore the fact that a simple friendly smile can do so much more than a long winded anger tantrum.
Use anger long enough and you will forget that you have other tools at your disposal. If you have good decent people who love you all around you, your anger just works. It’s so effective that you don’t feel the need to practice using any other emotion.
The Bigger Problem With Anger Is That One Fine Morning, It Stops Working.
The amazing thing about human beings is that we are state of art mirroring machines. Monkey see, monkey do. We even have physical mirror neurons in our brain.
These neurons are the primary reason behind our rapid evolution. We are the only species where a person can imagine and almost experience what intercourse might feel like just by watching a movie of two people making love even if the person himself or herself has never experienced intercourse in his entire life. Mirror neurons give us this imagination, empathy, playfulness and allow us to evolve. Most importantly, they allow us get used to things.
We are constantly mirroring people we live with. Which means if you constantly keep getting angry at me, you are teaching me how to get angry at you. I may be a nice person but if you shout at me in the workplace a couple of times I will quickly learn how to retaliate. With anger.
When I retaliate with as much anger as you, suddenly anger is no longer an effective tool for you. And because you have no other tools at your disposal, you amplify the anger. That’s how you get an angry outburst at home. Or awkward scenes at workplaces, or kids who aren’t talking to their parents for days, or spouses who are giving silent treatments to their partners.
None of these are bad acts. Just painful. And a sign that most people today are using a singular emotion of anger (it goes under different names like ‘getting triggered’, ‘getting annoyed’, ‘getting irritated’) instead of a healthy assortment of emotions. And when others around them start mirroring their anger, they are confused, so they amplify their anger and end up causing a lot of pain to others and themselves.
Neuroplasticity and Learning To Write Using The Left Hand.
It took me years of observing people at workplaces and my personal life to realise that the pain people with anger inflict upon themselves isn’t deliberate. It’s not fake either. It genuinely hurts them. But they have no choice.
If a hammer is the only tool you have, everything you see looks like a nail. And when you realise everything is not a nail, you have two choices. Hit harder and hope it still drills in anyways. Or keep your hammer aside and get something else. Anger is like a hammer. It works so effectively that when it stops working and people morph from being the metaphorical nails you’ve been drilling so easily, into something else, it’s easier to hit harder than it is to find a different tool.
The other day I was reading that being ambidextrous is a great way to boost your brain. Learning how to write with left hand is hard but the process to start is simple. Stop using your right hand to write. Go cold turkey. Within a couple of weeks your brain rewires itself.
The human body is surprisingly plastic. There is scientific research and evidence showing that if you tie two your fingers together for a few days, such that you cannot move one independently, you can’t move them independently even after untying them. The brain wires itself to move them together and that wiring remains for days even after your fingers are untied. It is only then that your brain rewires and gives you permission to move them independently.
Learning to quit your anger is like learning to write using your left hand. Going cold turkey on anger is the simplest way to rewire your brain. “I got triggered”, “she instigated me” or “I couldn’t help it” are not valid excuses.
Variety Of Emotions Is The Spice Of Life.
Now that you have decided to go cold turkey on anger, you’ll be forced to try out other emotions. If you come from a conservative or traditional background, emotions like cuteness, flirting, seduction, smiling or even humour might feel ‘wrong’ to you.
But if you are really going to survive, thrive and grow in life, you will need a quiver full of emotions at your disposal. And you’ll have to learn the art of using each of them masterfully. Without losing your dignity and grace.
Try out the other emotions. Slowly. If you aren’t comfortable with humour start by cracking small jokes. Not comfortable with seduction? Try simple friendly smiles. Or causal flirting with your partner. The more you use these tools, the better you will get at using them gracefully.
Anger is not a useless emotion. Like any effective tool it has it’s uses. But most people overuse it. Humans are creatures who love variety and if anger is the only emotion you have to offer them you’re going to get boring pretty soon.
Spice up your life with a lot of different emotions and anger will take a back seat and give you a chance to live without pain. And what’s more? For the first time in your life, it will let you have experiences with emotions that you were a complete stranger to and show you how powerful some of these emotions are.
Being Mindful About Your Emotions.
What’s the range of emotions you are good at expressing? Which ones effectively work for you? When did you last smile and convince someone to do something for you using your smile, friendship, charm, flirtatiousness, playfulness, gratitude or humility? Or are you always falling back on authority and anger? I’ll leave you to think about these question and practice a little bit of mindfulness when it comes to anger.
Once you start being mindful about your emotions and start using a host of these in your life, there is a high chance that you’ll learn that anger has it’s use but is not very effective in most cases. A host of other emotions work so much better at getting things done without all the pain and trauma to yourself and to others. And that’s when you need to ask yourself the important question – Are you ready to reduce your dependence on anger as your primary tool of getting things done and give other emotions a try? Just a little something to think about.