Thursday, July 11, 2002

All the anger management stuff in blogland is extremely interesting to me. Mostly because it has frequently boiled down to people saying either that anger is "good" or "bad". This seems to me to miss the really important point: anger is so what are we going to do about it?

The thing is, we don't really have a choice about feeling anger or not, it's there, so why fuss about being a bad person for feeling anger? For feeling anything for that matter? There are no truly negative emotions, but there are most certainly negative behaviors. What is important is not what you feel, but what you do about it. Even hate can be positive as long as you recognize that it is hate, and as such is probably a slightly irrational emotion, and then direct the energy into a positive thing. Even if the positive thing is merely avoiding the person you hate so that you don't end up fighting with them.

There are emotions that have more of a tendency than others to lead to negative behaviors, and anger is one of them, but without anger, or fear, or contentedness (or the lack thereof) many of us would have trouble telling when something is wrong, or if they're being hurt. If I find I am inexplicably angry at something or someone I will try to figure out WHY I'm so angry: is it the specific situation, or is it that it reminds me of something else that angered or hurt me in the past? Usually it's a combination, and I can work from there.

There are a lot of people who will beat themselves up for having this or that emotion, saying it's not right to feel that way, that they're weak for having such feelings…but they're emotions. Ya know? From the subconscious? The Id? NOT DIRECTLY CONTROLLABLE BY THE CONCIOUS MIND.

That's another thing. "control yourself woman, don't let your emotions run you" When we talk about "controlling ourselves" we can't possibly control what we feel to the extent that seems required; it's actually controlling how we act on emotions that's important, and through controlling our actions we will end up with some small level of control over our emotions. I've found over and over again that it serves me better to question an unwelcome emotion and figure out what's causing it than to immediately attempt to quash it. Quashing it will only result in it popping back up in a less controllable manner later on. I am learning to listen to my emotions, because they are there for a reason. They are my early warning system that things might not be going as I think they are, my instincts.

We need only look at the many interesting neurobiological case studies where people have lost their ability to experience emotion, either through strokes or injury, to see that we were not designed to function without emotions. People with no emotional responses whatsoever, do not learn from their mistakes, because there is no negative feeling associated with things going wrong. They can lose their shirt gambling, then go out and to it again, because it didn't bother them the last time they were broke, even if they will state that they don't want to lose their money. It's exactly like someone who cannot feel physical pain, they will end up damaging themselves in the extreme because it doesn't hurt.

Pain. Happiness. Lust. Fear. Love. Anger. All of these are hardwired into our brains, you cannot separate emotions from logical thought, they are processed by the same thing, our brains. Our minds are made up of the combination of analytical information processing and emotional response, that is not something we have a choice about.

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