For me, confronting with anger head-on was not easy. Like a lot of us I was taught it was bad and was frightened of it.
Early in my 20’s I became like a hermit and spent a lot of time by myself (I guess things haven’t changed all that much since then). A lot of this was learned in my practice of solitude. I found that it was not uncommon for me to fly into rages. I tried for years to deny this emotion but couldn’t. Then, one day, I embraced it. I did what was not perceived as correct. It seemed to open a world up to me. I saw there was more to it than meets the eye.
As I confronted my anger I began to see that anger was not anger at all. It only appeared as ‘anger’ under certain conditions. There is a passion behind anger that is not anger but what I often called the ‘fury’. I have no specific name for it though. To me, it appeared more like an intense awareness and a reactivity to the situations of life. As such, it had a quality of a ‘guarding’ of life, a sense of self preservation. It’s this quality, really, that gives anger such power I think. In that sense, you need to go beyond anger to its source. I often compare it to a watchdog. He stands there eyes open, aware, and ready to react to the situation. But he’s not going around killing people. You wouldn’t want to attack him though as he’s poised and ready. In a way, isn’t that what the male is – a watchdog, protecting and guarding his family and country? It is for this reason that I consider this passion so highly. In many ways, it defines the male.
Most of what people call anger is that same emotion reacting to a specific situation. As a result, you have people cussing and swearing and all that. I always call this ‘reactive anger’. Uncontrolled, this can be disastrous.
The ‘fury’, on the other hand, is not reacting to a situation but is a general attitude, a stance in life. It’s more like a preparation for a situation than a reaction to one.
Way back in my 20’s I began to confront my anger by watching my ‘reactive anger’ and experiencing it and not hiding from it. In some cases, I let it overwhelm me. I should point out that this was all done in private and not in front of people.
After a period of time, I began to do what I call ‘practicing anger’. By this I mean that I actually get myself mad and infuriated. It no longer became ‘reactive’ (that is, reacting to a situation) but something I initiated – what I call ‘initiated anger’. After I began to do this my anger changed. I began to embrace it and began to see beyond the petty ‘reactive anger’ to something more, the great passion that lies behind it. It became a ‘passion’ (like a great energy) that was within me. My perception of life seemed to change. I’ve always said that my confrontation with my anger has grown me up more as a person than any single thing.
The passion behind anger has great qualities. Its appearance had some of these qualities:
– To me, it appears to be a remnant of living in the wild, of a perpetual awareness and a willingness to defend oneself. As such, it has great value and importance in life and in growth.
– It is an attitude, not an emotion that takes one over (not like what you see with ‘reactive anger’).
– It is like a great ‘passion’, an energy that seemed to run through my whole being.
– It’s a passion that must be found out by one self. It must be done without any help. Because of this you confront it face to face alone. It can be quite frightening.
– It seemed to extend into other emotions and seemed to blend into some.
– To me, this passion can be profound or religious-like at times.
– There is a great sense of awareness in life. In many ways, life is more alive and real. It is something to be experienced.
– There is a great sense of self and who I am. This makes sense as it is a passion based in the preservation and maintenance of oneself.
– There is a willingness to uphold and defend oneself. Not only this, this extends into defending the family and country. It even goes further and one is willing to defend what a person is. This requires a strong sense of self, who you are, and what you’re made up of. As a result, there becomes a tendency to have strong standards of how life should be led. This requires a strong sense of right and wrong. This also brings with it a strong sense of purpose and place in the world.
– Because there is awareness of the world and oneself as well as a sense of ones purpose there is a great sense of inner integrity and strength.
– There is a sense of responsibility in life, that we must do and be a certain way in life. This means there’s a tendency to have a sense of self control and restraint.
– It seems that there is an acceptance of life and where you stand.
– By embracing this passion, and not letting it get out of control, there is a sense of growth.
– Over time it seems there is a sense of dignity that develops.
Overall, I found anger to be beneficial in life and that there was nothing to fear about it. To live without it is to be only half a person.