Today’s post is another in the ongoing series on anger. It comes to us from my friend, Tim Gallen. Tim, in his own words is:
“a writer, truth-seeker, and legend in his own mind. He loves good stories, good words, and good beer. He shares his random thoughts on life at his blog, The Daily Gallen. Follow him on Twitter @tim_gallen, or stalk him on Facebok. He won’t mind.
Angry with myself
I’m a pretty easygoing guy. I tend to go with the flow and embrace the situation.
But, please, don’t misjudge my easygoing character.
I can get angry. Really angry.
I have screamed, howled, and cursed. I have thrown things, I have punched pillows and walls. I have embraced my anger.
But, for me these external manifestations are rare exceptions. Usually, I internalize my anger, keep it inside.
I get angry a lot, actually. I get angry at the idiots who don’t know how to drive. I get angry at the idiots in my neighborhood who don’t clean up after their dogs or who let their yards become so overgrown they look like untamed jungles.
I get angry at the idiots who play their music loud and others who have a party that is way too loud and goes well into the night while I’m trying to sleep.
I get angry at the idiots who post moronic, ignorant comments all across the Internet, thinking the anonymity gives them a right to be cruel and stupid.
I get angry at the idiots who think it’s OK to treat other people like dirt, or people who do nothing but play the victim, blaming anything and anybody – the government, their parents, their employer, etc. – for their present situation in life.
I get angry at my friends sometimes, too. Angry at their lives that seem so much more fulfilling and rich than mine. Better-paying (or at least cooler-sounding) jobs, fancier cars, exotic vacations, and other trinkets of success that make me grind my teeth out of anger, frustration, and, yes, even jealousy.
But the idiot I am most angry with is myself.
While I am no stranger to the traditional manifestation of anger – elevated volume, downcast eyebrows, snearing countenance – my self-anger hardly ever manifests in this way. Rather than yell and scream at myself, I avoid the things I say I want to do, wallowing in a pool of self-pity and despair. I screwed up again, I’m so angry, but I’m going to mope rather than take a different action.
This was very much the case when I wrestled with depression over the past two years. I’d wager that when most people think of depression, they equate it to sadness, a deep melancholy from which any type of emotion is hard to come by. Well, other than sadness.
But depression isn’t only about sadness. It’s about doubt. It’s about fear. It’s about anger.
When you’re depressed, anger comes easily. You lash out at the world, like an injured animal. After all, you are injured.
Depression can result in shaking fists and howling at the moon in anger. Or, in my case, myself. And God.
I’d scream at Him when I drove to work, accusing Him of abandonment, forgetting about me in the pit of despair that seemed too deep to climb out of.
But I didn’t let myself off the hook, either. In fact, convinced I was on my own, I grew angry at myself. How could I have allowed myself to get to such a state? Why couldn’t I make change that I knew was necessary to climb out of the pit?
I still do this at times.
While I don’t believe myself depressed any longer, I still get angry with myself far too often. When I mess up, fail, or spend time doing something other than being productive, I mentally berate myself. I turn in on myself and give up.
But you know what? While I’ve still a ways to go, I’m trying to give myself some grace, as well as remember: like other reactions, anger is a choice.
What I’ve learned about anger is that it’s OK, but like every reaction to the world, it’s a choice. People spend billions of dollars a year trying to be happy, but happiness isn’t something you can buy – either at the mall or the pharmacy. Rather, it is a choice. A choice between smiling or frowning. A choice between laughing or growling. A choice between feeling the spring breeze on your face and a harsh, bitter wind. A choice between appreciating and acknowledging the beauty of the world and believing it does not exist.
Anger is the same way.
Sometimes, I still give into anger and frustration. I am human, after all. But in those moments I try to remind myself that I am making a choice, one I can change later, once the novelty or feel-good effects wear off. Even before then. If I choose.