Mad as Hell!

They all left me behind. I don’t know where they went, but I was stuck finishing the packing. There were items of clothing, blankets, a DVD, and various other things that might have to be left behind. There were two baby shirts, still on the store hangers that someone had bought and left behind.

We had to leave quickly — I don’t remember why. There I was, trying to figure out what to take and what to leave. I only had two small canvas bags to put things in and I couldn’t take much because it would be too heavy to carry. I knew we had to walk where we were going.

I was left behind all alone to figure all this out.

Then I woke up — and boy was I mad!

Did you ever feel mad and you weren’t sure why? Why do we feel mad anyway? What is the purpose of ‘mad’?

Of all our emotions, anger is the most perplexing and hardest to deal with. Many of us have been taught, early in life, to suppress, ignore, and control our anger. The very word has negative implications.

What exactly is anger?

Paul Ekman, a leading researcher in emotional expression, describes anger as one of six basic emotions that are expressed by a defined constellation of facial gestures. The other five are sadness, happiness, surprise, fear, and discust. Ekman believes that the facial expressions that show these emotions are universal to all humans, despite gender, race, or age. If that is true then anger is built into how we function. It is built into our brain.

Marshall Rosenberg, in his book, The Surprising Purpose of Anger, says the emotion of anger arises when a basic need is not being met.

I have observed that people who refuse to feel anger often have difficulty making decisions or even deciding on a course of action. They seem to lack a strong sense of self-will.

I think that is what nature designed anger for. It tells us when we need to take action in our own self-interest.

Suppose you drop the word ‘anger’ with all its baggage. Suppose you were to say, “I am feeling a strong sense of self-will” or “I feel a strong need to take action.”

Does that sound so bad?

Less Than Helpful Advice

Next time you feel mad, ask what need am I not meeting? Then take action to meet that need.

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About almondhead

I am a mental health counselor in private practice. One of the focuses of my practice is helping people with fear, anxiety and their ugly stepsister, depression. I became a counselor after a long career in the technology world, so naturally, I think of the brain as an engineering problem. It can help to understand something about how the brain works. I decided to start this blog as a way to help other people learn about fear, anxiety and relationship. (All our problems are really about relationships.) You can also find me at: www.virtuallyfearless.com www.PsychologyToday.com www.theravive.com http://www.marriagefriendlytherapists.com/
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