Revisiting The Red
Anger, jealousy, hate, violence. One look and a sweeping generalized notion won’t take long to be formed that these words share a cause and effect relationship. Since time immemorial, it’s been a practice to categorize emotions into black and white dichotomies, even the discourse surrounding it tends to compartmentalize, often missing the point that it is rather in our ways of expression, our reactions, and related consequences that emotion gets defined.
Unraveling the complexities of emotions, instead of straitjacketing them, would, I believe, open more space for a more productive dialogue.
But for us, 'happy' is 'positive' and 'aggression/anger' is 'negative'. We are taught at a young age itself to not be angry or sad or jealous. But to always have a happy and calm contour is a 'Nirvana-like' achievement and that seems like a Sisyphean task in the present times. Instead, it becomes pertinent that we bring forward a more nuanced and comprehensive understanding of the concept while stressing the need to learn to maneuver through these emotions in a productive and efficient way, to express and not suppress. What we don’t speak - we store and anger isn’t a wine that gets better with time. It is like a bakery product- bound to stale.
Anger is an immensely powerful emotion. A completely natural and healthy emotion. To normalize is to be able to climb the first step that is acceptance and providing space to express. How we put it to use is what will determine the future outcomes. In the discipline of Psychology, Anger is understood to have mainly three causes; Genetic, environmental, and of course, psychological. Mostly expressed either actively or passively.
As humans, we find it easier to be angry than hurt. We hide the sensitivity under the garb of anger, lest anybody should think we are weak. The usual first response to anything unfavorable/hurtful has, thus, become anger. It is now more like a learned behavior.
Several questions still continue to boggle our minds. What to do if someone is getting angry with you or if you’re feeling angry? How to understand that someone’s angry if that person doesn’t explicitly express it? Is it sensible to respond to anger with anger?
Here, we can take a leaf from psychological studies which enlist a few cues of anger to look out for, like, facial cues, voice cues, body language. Understanding these will definitely be a step forward in assessing the situation without creating further conflict. Moreover, it will help in arriving at a resolution in a more mature manner.
It is important to make the person feel that it is a safe space to express his/her hurt constructively and adopt an approach that is not abusive in nature. As much important as the expression is, the boundaries of the other person are not to be compromised and this, I believe, is a 'non-negotiable'.
It’s common wisdom to not make promises when happy and also, NOT make decisions when you’re angry. On the contrary, strategies such as delaying decision making in a state of rage, communicating one’s contentions, crush-eating ice cube, discussing allowed anger expressing techniques (very effective), taking time out to reflect and introspect; categorically from other person's point of view during an argument can go a long way in preserving one’s sanity as well as relationships.
Anger is perceived as a negative feeling as it does invite unwanted hostility, unpleasant behavioral anomalies. So it falls upon us to channelize our responses via vents that would allow the flow of energy in a non-damaging manner and thereby, being responsible for the consequences.