Trigger Questions

Who was angry when you felt angry?

Trigger Question #137 — reading time: about 1.8 minutes

I am so angry I am anger personified!

. . .

Today, I will irritate you by repeating concepts you’ve heard many times. (Because we can all benefit from hearing these ideas again and again. Me included.)

Epictetus, a Greek Philosopher from eons ago, said, “What disturbs people’s minds is not events, but their judgement about events.” Or maybe he said, “It’s not what happens to you, but how you react to it that matters.” (Not sure which one. I wasn’t there then.)

Carl Gustav Jung, a Swiss psychiatrist and psychoanalyst from less than an eon ago, said, “It all depends on how we look at things, and not on how they are in themselves.”

Then along came Viktor Emil Frankl, an Austrian psychiatrist and Holocaust survivor, who summed it up best. He said, “The last of the human freedoms: to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.”

Are you angry yet with me for reminding you of what is obvious but difficult to live by? No, you are not angry. You feel anger.

We should stop saying, “I am angry!” when we mean, “I feel anger.” Why? Because we are not our anger.

If your attitude is to choose to be your anger, then you will react in anger. Which seldom ends well. But if you look at the situation differently so that you can choose your attitude to be “I feel angry,” then you can choose how to direct that feeling of anger.

It is difficult to change who we think we are. Which is why you should not think “I am angry.” It is much easier to change how we behave in response to our feelings. Which is why you should always think “I feel anger.”

Your feelings and emotions are, admit it, automatic. They bubble up uninvited. You can’t always choose them. But you can choose your reaction to them. You can choose your behavior.

Indeed, that choice, to choose how to react, is a very human freedom. So, be human. Don’t be your anger.

Welcome to my side of the nonsense divide.