Wednesday, 8 January 2014

I have a thought.

Ha. Today I have a THOUGHT for you.

It concerns rage.

After yesterday’s blah, I discovered today that I was suffering from fury. It crept up on me early, as I listened to a gentleman on Thought for the Day (which makes me pretty cross most mornings) talk about having a ‘vegetarian lifestyle’. The very word lifestyle makes me spit, but a vegetarian one makes my head spin off. What can it mean?

Then, as I was having a most uncharacteristic argument with the red mare, who decided she did not want to move from her nice friend and her nice field and her nice breakfast, I found another pocket of fury. This one was to do with a certain human not behaving in a way I would like that human to behave. This is not a pretty reflection on my character. I like to think I am all each to each, and NOT CONTROLLING AT ALL, and perfectly shimmering with tolerance and liberalism and laissez-faire. In fact, I quite often think, horridly, that this person should do this, or that person bloody well could do that. Then I have to read myself lectures in my head about the horrors of judgement and I feel very small and rather less than the person I would wish to be.

The mare finally consented to move, and as I walked out with her, I attempted to get all this into some kind of order in my head. As I contemplated the particular human who had made me so cross, I told myself that A. getting furious about the perceived lack of doing what I wanted had no utility and B. that it was a lowering reflection on all the things I like to believe I hold dear. It was also rank hypocrisy, since I loathe it when people tell me how I should be living or behaving or functioning in the world.

On the other hand, rage must go somewhere. The human had done something careless and mildly hurtful, as humans often do. It was not big enough to warrant major confrontation, but it had lacerated my spirits. The problem was that the resentment at the slight hurt had ballooned into a general anger at half that poor person’s choices in life. (Could do this; should do that. That was the really ugly and uncalled-for part.)

My question is, my thought is: where does one put these sudden squalls of fury, the ones that don’t really do you or anyone else any good? I think that anger is a correct response in some situations – in the face of bigotry, hatred, idiot politicians, avaricious bankers, dangerous drivers, out of control regimes – but a lot of the time it is not appropriate and mostly to do with one. Sometimes, when I get cross it is warranted. Sometimes, it is all about my own self and not about the other person at all.

But one can’t simply stuff it down into the internal cupboard of doom or one gets ulcers and drinks too much.

Where is the correct place for it?

My rider is: I think anger is especially hard for women. Even now, in the age of the power female and the ladette, or whatever the Daily Fail calls them now, there is still a whiff of sugar and spice and all things nice. We ladies are not really supposed to be cross. Gentleman can parlay rage into entire careers – Peter Hitchens and Jeremy Clarkson are paid to be livid. I’m not sure there is an equivalent female version. (Actually, Melanie Phillips is absolutely furious, almost all of the time, but I do not think she would ever be offered a gig on Top Gear.)

I do often have a sense of failure when I fly into rages, as if I am undermining my own biological imperative, even though I don’t really believe in a biological imperative, which makes me even crosser and more confused. I find anger uncomfortable and sometimes frightening. I want to think the best of things and of people and to be at ease in the world. So when the snapping monster of ire uncurls itself within me, my instinct is to run away.

Today, I’m sitting with it. I’m breathing. I’m sharing with the group.

Too much?


Today’s pictures:

Are actually from today:

Skies over HorseBack:

8 Jan 1

Sweetly muddy and furry foal, especially for my friend The Television Producer, who always cheers me up, even from five hundred miles away:

8 Jan 2

Herself, on our morning walk, looking as if she never had a mulish moment in her whole wide life. (The Dear Readers now know the sorry truth. But then, nobody’s perfect, not even my old duchess.):

8 Jan 4

Some trees:

8 Jan 5


  1. I find (when I stop myself & dig a little) that most of the things that make me angry (other than what I consider the "righteous" ones like intolerance, injustice, cruelty...) are actually things I'm not happy about in myself. Right now I'm having a to & fro online with an incredibly arrogant, pompous, patronizing person over an artist's work. I had the "gall" to suggest that appreciation of art, like many other things in life, was subjective, and that this person's take on it (which amounted to a savaging not only of the artist but also of anyone who disagreed with him) was simply his opinion NOT fact. Well. I've been told off up one side & down the other. To return to my point, however, I think why I let this "get" to me at all is, sigh, because I can be arrogant and patronizing and pontificate -- all characteristics I really don't like in myself.
    Shorter story: I have a good friend who used to drive me bonkers (unbeknownst to her) because she did something exactly like my mother. Then I straightened out myself (& the "thing") with my mother (unbeknownst to HER) and, voila, neither friend nor mother changed but my irritation with both instantly disappeared.
    Sometimes (although not always) I think this is where a considerable amount of my "rage" originates.
    Hoping this makes some sense...

  2. I also have a problem with rage. I can get incandescent. But also incoherent and tearful. At age 43, one would think I would have come up with a mechanism for dealing with rage, but I was never allowed to be angry as a child, so somehow that "stiff upper lip" thing has carried over into adulthood, and I hide my rage until it explodes inappropriately. For me, it ends up being an end of a frustration loop, a feeling of not being good enough, smart enough, likeable enough. Feeling stuck in my own life.

    1. Oh, I so understand this. I have found lately (to everyone's relief, probably) that I seem to be able to find a way of being kinder to myself when I initially feel the fury. And that seems to dissipate the turmoil that follows to calm me down… others may disagree. :)

  3. I love and admire your (and the dear readers') honesty in talking about the thorny subject of anger.. I am allergic to angry outbursts (particularly if directed at inanimate objects or defenceless beings) although have to admit that I am occasionally prone to such behaviour myself! I think that it is often anxiety or fear that lie at the heart of it. And agree that sometimes it's the very behaviour we dislike in ourselves that provokes the greatest ire against others. Why is he/she so lazy/rude/stubborn/inconsiderate etc etc.. then one looks at oneself and realises one shouldn't be throwing stones in glass houses!

  4. Such interesting comments. I do believe that are made to feel we should be sugar and spice. Smiles and smoothing. But there is nothing better than a good old stomp provided there is no aggression aim at an actual person. It can be very cathartic. I once went on a course where they said it was important to let it all out. At work, go into the loos, stomp around a bit and pull off at the toilet roll, a sheet for each frustration. Strange but true and sort of works.

  5. Quick anger is an energy, the result of physiological changes - from perceived or actual threat to self. The chemicals produced take hours to leave the system, so needing to release is just that. I think other anger, slow burn, so to speak, masks another feeling - often pain or hurt and when or why it overwhelms we cannot always know... Awareness of emotions as they arise and timely release has really reduced my proneness to anger. I was a real emotional withholder as a child and anger would follow on - feelings come out somehow.

  6. If you can (and I know that for some it is impossible or undesirable), why not go for a run? It provides time and space to think things through, and somehow the physical exercise straightens out knots in the mind as well as the body.

  7. The sudden blaze of anger? Its why having your own room/office is such a good thing - you can wallow in rage until it wears off...I am amazed that more murders are not committed in open-plan offices.

  8. I lost my temper with an old friend (over 30 years of friendship). Another friend and I were talking about politics and enjoying ourselves immensely when my old friend said: enough of politics, can we change the subject?

    I saw red and said much that was angry and intemperate. Immediate regret and apology on my part. We are still civil, but it is not the same - I now feel constrained in this friend's company and she, I suspect, is still hurt by my words.

    And yes, where does anger go? I chide myself for losing perspective and a sense of humour, and as Pat above said, I was angry with her for the same qualities in myself.

    I keep thinking of the poem by William Blake:

    "I was angry with my friend:
    I told my wrath, my wrath did end.
    I was angry with my foe:
    I told it not, my wrath did grow."

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  10. Not too much. I deal with the same problem; thank you for expressing it so well.

    I wonder at the complicated nature of it. I want to believe that dealing with anger/rage at things other than traffic jams and venal politicians is really about becoming the person I want to be. But as you bring up, how much of it is that old, inbred gender imperative? Damn, man or woman, seems to me that it is better to be more in tune with life than raging against it. If you determine ways to deal with it, please write again about it.


  11. I had to return to this, as I am in the midst of something with my mother (30 years after teenagehood some patterns persist!). On this occasion, I let the wounding thing, wound, sharp and brief. I felt it and acknowledged it and said so briefly and without anger. It all moved on quickly as if the emotion police (a squad related to Tania's perspective police) had arrived on the scene and asked all the potential for anger and festering resentment to move on, nothing to see here.

    I find, so much that removing the right and wrong of a thing and replacing it with, as Pat said 'opinion' or 'perspective' or 'experience' helps so much. Harder to do with matters of morals and ethics but definitely useful for everyday interactions. After all, much of what is right or wrong is subjective. We'd rather that people were not thoughtless, or selfish, or derelict, or irresponsible, or judgemental, or testy etc. etc. but being people, sometimes we are.

    I exclude the application of this in cases of injustice, ideology and cruelty. Those things make me angry, but hopefully the energy can be used to do something.


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