Seriously, Mr. President…WTF? (The Value of Getting Angry)

Jul 31, 2020 | Blog, Growth, Highly Sensitive People, Resilience, Self Improvement, Stress Management

By the way…how do you feel about religion?

I figured…since I was launching this thing about politics (which we all know we aren’t supposed to do), I might as well cover my bases and give religion a solid mention.

The irony is that I JUST wrote a blog about being discerning about reading the news. Well folks…you can watch as I stumble around trying to walk my own talk.

It started off just like any other. I woke up…I did my yoga…my meditation (like a proper sissy-la-la is supposed to…I gotta keep that stereotype of a HSP alive. You’re welcome, universe. I’m lookin out.)

But then I thought “hmmm…I wonder what’s going on in the world, today?” (I know, I know.). I expected to see the same ole same ole….(many) democrats are mad a Trump and blah blah blah…(many) conservatives think masks are a means by which the government is using to control the masses (because…obviously THAT makes sense).

Ohhhh but no. It went a step further. Trump, apparently, casually put out a mild hint that…you know…maybe we should just, like, delay the election since this whole Covid thing is such a problem. I mean…just sayin….

That was the last straw. No. Nope. Niet. Nine. Nah-uh. Fuck no. Hell no. Nah. I don’t care what dialect you prefer or how many times I have to say it, but no, in this case, unequivocaly means NO.

I don’t care whether you are a democrat, a republican, an independent, a libertarian, a socialist….I don’t care who you sleep with. I don’t care what crude jokes you make. I don’t care if your face is white, black or…in this case a truly odd shade of orange. What IS that about, anyway? But I digress. NONE of that stuff matters. I’ll shrug and say something like “get over it. So your candidate didn’t win. That’s how elections go. The country spoke. Move on. Get busy fixing problems or get busy avoiding the news. Either way, stop complaining.”

But when you, the President of the United States of America, have the audacity to say (not just say….tweet that (shrug) maybe we outta just throw out that little detail about a democracy? There was a line somewhere, Mr. President. You didn’t cross it. You leap-frogged over it. And then looked back, befuddled, and said “whaaaat?!? What are you so maaaad. Sheesh.”

He, of course, backtracked a smidge and said “No, no, no….I don’t want to delay it. I just think that mail-in ballots are fraudulent and will mean that if I lose ….it will have been a botched election” (and y’all said Democrats were sore losers. You’re preemptively behaving like a sore loser. You’re calling “cheater cheater” when we having even started playing the GAME yet. Poor form, my friend. VERY poor form)

(Also…fun fact…Trump voted via mail-in-ballot in at least three elections. Sooooooo)

Phew! Glad I got that off my chest.

I am sure you’re wondering, by now, why I would write about politics in a world that is saturated with enough of this information (especially after I just said we should all be discerning about taking in too much news).

The best I can tell you is because it pissed me off. And I have to say, I rarely get angry. The last time I got THIS angry, a man was spewing insults at me at a decibel most would have thought would have been a precursor to a solid punch. It takes a LOT to get me angry.

And getting comfortable with anger? That’s kinda sorta something I’m working on exploring. I don’t mean I’m LOOKING for reasons to get myself in a huff. I just mean…I have a tendency to avoid conflict. I like staying precariously perched on the fence. I make fewer enemies that way. But the cost of not being honest about my anger has been substantial. In insisting I don’t get angry, I’ma also, on some level, insisting I don’t have a stake in anything. It’s almost like I’m saying “I’m not valuable enough to take up space. I am not invested enough to draw a boundary. Why enforce a boundary on something I don’t care much about?

What I have discovered, though, is that I AM invested in some things. I care about my friends and family. When I thought my niece was threatened by a presumed enemy, I would have fought to the death for her. I would have manipulated, cajoled, snarled, ripped, scratched, clawed. I wouldn’t have thought twice about it.

More recently, I’ve started to turn that same ferocity on when it has been ME who was threatened. Like a cold hearted serpent, I slithered right out of a relationship that no longer was serving me. I made him angry. When I left Oregon, I hurt family members in my rush to go. I let down a number of my coworkers who had invested time and energy in keeping me in my role in California. I did it without feeling a smidge of regret. When I got into a conflict with a dear friend of mine, as much as I loved her (and love her still) I was no longer willing…no longer capable of dismissing my anger. Fuck that. I’m going to FEEL it (justified or not). In each case, I determined that no matter who is (or is not) lying down in the bed next to me….or in the next room…I sleep alone. So it is only me I need to reckon with.

So when I read that tiny little snippet and watched my rage come online….strange, visceral, potent, HOT rage…no way was I passing that opportunity up. This rarely comes online. I’m gonna LOOK at it.

And it turns out, rage has some very real benefits. In a blog article written by Moshe Ratson, MBA, MS, LMFT, he marks 16 different benefits of anger we should all tip our hats to. The include:

  • Anger promotes survival: In my case, that feels true down to the bone. When I’m angry, my whole system is lit up. CHARGED up, more like. It’s like feeling on the inside what I imagine volcanoes LOOK like externally when an explosion erupts. Hot. Untenable. Unmanageable. What was interesting, in this case, is that it got initiated by a political maneuver a man I’ve never met made through a social media outlet I rarely (if ever) use. Why? The only thing I can think is that despite my casual sense of “meh…countries are born…countries die…what gives” attitude I like to promote, I really do CARE about this country I live in. Because it’s my home. And I CARE about the principles it was founded on. To spit on it means the structure of my home is being attacked. And while nothing may come of it, it still feels like a legitimate threat. If the US constitution can be spit on like that? What comes next? Maybe nothing. But what IF?
  • Anger discharge’s is cathartic and calming: Writing this article, for example? VERY calming. It’s taking all my crap and channeling it in a way that allows me to feel a release.
  • Anger provides a sense of control: I don’t know if I ACTUALLY have control over ANYTHING. I can’t even control when I need to go to the bathroom. But it at least gives me the felt SENSE of empowerment. I feel like I can act. Without hesitation. What I imagine I’m going to DO just now, I don’t know. But that sensory experience is very tangible.
  • Anger energizes us: I’ll say! I’ve got enough heat in my body to electrify the whole of my house! But why would that be important?
  • Anger motivates us to solve problems: Ahhhh….now I see why that energy is so useful. It’s true. Trying to “fix” the problems of this country? That’s a buttload of work. But now I’m starting to think about ways I might be able to contribute to the solution. Who might I build bridges with? Is it just democrats who feel pissy? Or are there republicans who are feeling a bit unnerved by a man who thinks elections can be arbitrarily moved (news flash, republicans…if Trump can do it, so can any democrat who might follow him. Just sayin). I don’t want to just BEAT republicans and conservatives. I want to recruit them.
  • Anger makes us aware of injustice: A whole lotta yes, here. It’s not as though this is the first and only grievance I have against this guy. It’s just that now, he is throwing out the possibility that he may not only continue doing things I don’t like, but do it unconstitutionally. THAT means NO one is safe from chaos. Now THAT is a snowball theory worth its grain in salt.
  • Anger drives us toward our goals: And just what IS my goal? I want to feel proud of my country. I don’t much care which “side” comes up on top. I just want all parties to follow proper form. I want to feel like this is one area on the globe I don’t have to be afraid someone can just casually dismantle. And I don’t want that to necessarily look like democrats beating out republicans. I want it to look like democratic and republican citizens JOINING together on SOMETHING. ANYTHING!
  • Anger injects optimism: Oddly enough, I do feel a bit optimistic. I felt the same way when I was in my most recent dispute with a friend. I remember even saying to her “I’m glad this all happened. I’m glad we are fighting even now. Because it’s forcing us to be real with each other.” I feel that on some level, here. I feel like it’s possible, just MAYBE possible that all branches of government, and maybe even a solid majority of citizens will say to Trump “yeeeeeah. That’s enough. Somebody needs a nap. Go lie down and let the adults in the room take care of it from here.”
  • Anger protects our values and beliefs: It turns out, I do VALUE the principles of this country. When 9/11 happened, I wasn’t thrilled to think that Bush was our president. But you know what? He UNIFIED us in the days following that attack. Even then, teenager though I was, I could grasp the power of his speech immediately following the attack. He insisted no one should attack those within our borders who were Muslim. He said to all of us “we are one. And we are going to make them PAY for what we lost.” Despite all my doubts about him…despite all the policies he passed later that I was avidly against…I will ALWAYS remember his ability to do that. I value what our flag represents. We need to live up to it.
  • Anger increases cooperation: I don’t know if it has so far…but I sincerely hope it will moving forward. This country NEEDS cooperation. We need to stop seeing this whole thing as a game and see that at the end of the day…we are all on the SAME team. Maybe we can’t all agree on what means we use to get to the optimal ends we all hope to achieve…but can we at least agree that it’s worth playing by the rules?
  • Anger can improve negotiation outcomes: When I don’t defend myself or articulate what is at stake for me, people will walk all over me. They do that NOT because they are selfish assholes who don’t care about me (though…maybe some legitimately are). They do that because they didn’t know it mattered to me. In Todd Kashdan’s The Upside to Your Dark Side, he articulated that women who expressed solid anger to partners who engaged in behaviors they deemed oppressive or abusive…were far likely to see changes in their pattern’s behavior (that surprised the hell out of me). It turns out, if you don’t yell loud enough, people might think you simply are not serious.
  • Anger covers painful emotions: And what is the painful emotion I’m feeling? Vulnerable. Sad. Mournful. I’m mourning the loss of a country I thought was damn-near indestructible. Watching it start to crumble…that hurts. It’s a reminder of how small I am. It’s a reminder that life is precious, and you never really know what might be coming. And THAT is extremely uncomfortable.
  • Anger pushes us to reach a deeper self: As in the case, here…I didn’t want to squander my opportunity to investigate anger. I wanted to USE it. Sure, it got incited by the news. But you know what? Fine. It’s all data. I’m going to use it.
  • Anger can lead to self-improvement: It’s hard to change something you are not aware is a problem. Anger helps signal a problem.
  • Feeling anger enhances emotional intelligence: To be emotionally intelligent doesn’t mean you only ever feel happy or calm. To have emotional intelligence means you feel everything. In Permission to Feel by Marc Brackett, he talks about all the various forms our emotions can take, and how being willing to open up to the full spectrum of our emotions leads to more robust, resilient, authentic people. (Fingers crossed that includes me).

And right now? I’m mad as hell, and I’m not going to take it anymore.

What kinds of things make YOU angry? And what is your experience of anger? As an HSP, anger feels especially powerful to me. It’s why I tend to shy away from it. But what about you?