Anger is, without doubt, a powerful emotion which many men struggle to come in terms with. And while much can be said about the nature of anger, what I want to focus here is the power dynamic of anger that many people don’t seem to be aware of.
Beyond the meaningless process of categorizing anger as either being good or bad, it’s far more important to be aware of the interplays of power that come with it—and make no mistake about it: anger is all about power, control, and survival. By understanding anger this way, you will be better suited to decide on your own course of action rather follow silly and useless suggestions as ‘anger is bad’, ‘control your anger’, etc.
First, you must understand that anger arises in response to a threat to your power, control, and survival. If someone challenges your power in terms of your authority, status, reputation, or independence, you will become angry. If someone tries to impose their will over you and humiliate you in the process, you will become angry. If someone tries to destroy your sense of self through lies and insults, or threatens your very existence with harm, you will become angry. And if anyone tries to do any of the above on someone or something you identify yourself with, you will also become angry. Anger exists because it protects us from threats. And for that reason, you don’t need to feel guilty whenever it arises or think of it as something that is innately evil.
Fear is often cited as a source of anger, and it is true. Anger, in a way, is an extension of fear. While the person who is angry might cover up his fear and insecurities by flaring up in rage, there is no denying that the fact that the underlying emotion is always fear—whether he is cognizant of it or not. As powerful as anger may be, a greater fear in its base form will easily override it without a contest.
Second, because of its innate purpose in protecting us against threats, the practicality of anger must be judged by how effectively it serves that purpose. If your anger succeeds in warding off threats, maintaining your power, or eliminating your pestering enemy, then it has done what it is supposed to do. But remember that anger, much like the pain response, is usually a defense against immediate threats. The bitter and long-lasting anger in the form of grudge is usually reserved for an enemy who has caused enough trauma to be considered a looming threat. In the end, no matter the circumstance or the response, anger must be able to assert your very existence by neutralizing the threat or by forcibly transforming the circumstance in your favour.
On the other hand, if anger appears in the form of impotent reaction, then it is no different than a temper tantrum of a child who cries and whines for attention (of course, that may succeed him in securing his mother’s care, but for adults it’s a different story). Whether it be explosive and violent or repressed and seething, any anger that fails to protect a man against threat or improve his situation in any way is a futile expression of his helplessness.
In short: Anger that secures your power is potent and useful, but anger that is reactive and futile is a sign of powerlessness.
The problem today is that not only are most people unaware of this power dynamic with anger, but even when they are acutely aware of it, the passion burns too hot for their reason to handle. This is a product of our modern world with all its imaginary threats and pettiness. Most of the things that anger us shouldn’t, and even genuine angers are disallowed by our society that caters to those who can best manipulate the system to their advantage. It is not anger that is the problem, but how it is being provoked and repressed at the same time by our society. Any self-respecting man without restrictions would immediately act upon his anger and be done with it rather than waste his time trying to figure out how to best ‘manage‘ it.
There can be no single guidance for anger. The only way is for you to choose your own path based on your experiences and desires. Anger, like fire, is something that can both help you or destroy you. Whatever you choose to do, the best thing to remember would be to avoid letting yourself be consumed by your own flames.