Benjamin Franklin said, “In this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes.” I will add to this, anger. Anyone who has ever known an infant will know that we come into this world with the capacity for anger, a capacity surely selected through evolution for our protection and support of the species. Anger is a basic emotion, along with fear, disgust and joy. Like the primary colors red, blue and yellow, from which all other colors are made, these primary emotions are foundational.
Anger is inevitable and is protective. It is a biological response, in its purest state, to aversive situations. When a bully pushes you on the playground, anger (among other feelings such as fear) rightly kicks in. Do you push back? What does the anger do for you in that moment? At the very least it provides information about the person who pushed you that informs future contact with him/her. It can provide a motivation to tell an adult who will comfort or protect you. Acknowledging anger sharpens your thinking about how you want to live your life, near the bully or farther away, confronting an affront, or changing how you view an affront. Isn’t the bully the one to be pitied?
Projecting our anger onto others takes you on a path away from yourself. When you look at the one who affronted you rather than your reaction to the affront you distract yourself from your own truth. This is not to say that offensive behavior is not offensive but a problem of our perception. The question is what is offensive to you? That is instructive. Things that anger one person do not anger all people. Even highly offensive behaviors are forgiven by some. What angers you tells us about you, not about the other’s behavior.
Of course we all get angry. Let’s ask ourselves what triggers our anger. Usually what fuels the ongoing resentments and bitterness about conflict in our lives is our refusal to confront the truth about ourselves. When we know what bullies us we know how to avoid it. If we continue to place ourselves in situations where we are bullied (metaphorically speaking) whom should we get mad at?