Part One in a series of four posts on anger and the economy. Part Two was published Monday, March 2.
There’s a lot to be angry about these days.
➢ My retirement fund is gone because of the greed of others.
➢ I lost my job while my boss gets a bonus.
➢ I’ve saved all my life, lived within my means and yet the irresponsible guy in default gets bailed out!
In the blogosphere lately I’ve noticed the number of angry comments from readers responding to blog posts meant to sooth and uplift people traumatized by the economy. “How dare you make light of what I’m feeling!” sums up the reactions.
Here’s the truth: Anger is a good, natural, healthy reaction to anything that can, or has, hurt us. But anger is also a difficult, often frightening, emotion – especially when it is overwhelming. ‘Mad’ can mean ‘insane’ as well as ‘furious.’
Most of us know what out of control anger feels and looks like: Adrenaline pumps, building up physical and mental stress. Unchecked we are driven to let loose, pacing, moving, slamming doors, wanting to hit something. Voices become loud and our language blistering and hurtful. Violence is a threat if not a reality. Enraged we are disconnected from our frontal lobes, where judgment and reason lie; the more primitive parts of our brain take over.
Poorly processed anger can literally make you sick. It can cause high blood pressure, cardiac disease and other ailments. In a desperate effort to control it, anger can lead to alcohol and drug abuse.
Then there are those of us who need to be encouraged to express anger.
When I was laid off, together with about forty other hospital workers, the rage I felt was indescribable. Rather than express it (I couldn’t figure out how without going postal) I questioned my own competence. Ignoring the evidence, I convinced myself I did something wrong to be fired. The result was depression that lasted long past getting another job.
Turned inward, anger can fester into depression or anxiety. Anger denied has a nasty way of finding expression despite our best effort to suppress it, indirectly in passive-aggressive behavior, cynicism, sarcasm or cold, silent hostility.
Do we have a right to be angry? Yes. Always. Even if you can’t figure out why you’re angry, the emotion has no right or wrong. It just is.
With so much to be mad about today, can we be angry and not have it develop into bitterness or depression or have it turn against those whose support we need most? Yes. With determined focus and what may feel like Herculean effort, we can learn to master our anger and not allow it to be the master of us.
Mad As Hell: Anger and the Economy is a series of four posts. Coming up soon:
➢ Three Steps to Master Your Economic Rage
➢ Build Healthy Resilience to Financial Fury
➢ When Anger Manages Your Loved One