I had a very insightful woman in my life in my late 20’s. She was the first real “woman” I ever dated, essentially she was “straight no chaser” and in every way what you could want in a clear-thinking partner. One day when we were alone, she said to me, “You live life like you’re mad at it.” Her words have resonated with me to this day.
Driving in New York is a difficult proposition for anyone. While navigating from New Jersey to Lower Manhattan, I was cut off by a reckless driver. As a New Yorker—yeah, we really do this—I screamed expletives outside the window at the errant driver. At the very moment I heightened my road rage, I felt a tightness in my chest that was completely foreign. It was at my center, my heart chakra. I quickly locked my inner beast back in his cage.
I have had many instances throughout my lifetime in trying to understand my inner beastie, my anger, my rage. Those of us who are “normal” by society’s standards aren’t angry as children. Anger seems to show itself through disappointments, life experiences and perceived (and sometimes very real) disparate treatment by society. The anger in my life came from the place of trying to understand why I didn’t receive real love and acceptance, why my father left and never looked back? Why my mother treated me so indifferently when I needed her most. I have been subject to and witnessed the rudeness and disappointments that permeate the human condition:
- Being black in America (hell, even MLK got mad at that one every now and then)
- The general lack of concern for those who are less fortunate (Society treats animals better than most humans.)
- War for no justifiable reason
- Loss of a loved one
- Unbridled bigotry, sexism, and racism
- Growing up with only 1 parent and watching the other struggle
- Opening your heart to give and receive love only to be disappointed or to learn of other motives having nothing to do with love (The big one)
In his Psychology Today blog post, Psychologist and popular author Steven Stosny wrote:
“Most male anger comes from feeling like a failure as a protector, provider, and lover. These acute vulnerabilities can be stimulated by the mere unhappiness or displeasure of his wife, even if her distress or negative states have nothing to do with him. And he is likely to blame his sense of failure and the feelings of inadequacy it stimulates on her. Blame gives him status as a victim. Victimhood gives him a temporary sense of self-righteousness, along with a retaliation impulse, which, in turn, stimulates anger”
Anger can make you react negatively if left unchecked; it’s anger that makes some men physically violent towards women. It’s anger that makes some men cheat in relationships. Anger can be very destructive, not only for you but for those in your orbit. You can do absolutely nothing about how people choose to treat you. You can’t make them not be racist; you can’t make them treat you with respect and you can’t make adults be faithful in a relationship or feel what you feel when they abuse that trust, lie or mistreat you.
Some men want to be feared. These maladjusted individuals are only concerned with what they take from life with mostly no concern or empathy for others. Recently, we have seen this played out on the world stage. No decorum, no patience, no empathy, just a human wrecking ball destroying all that is in its path. My rage, my inner hurt sought to define me as a man. Society has taught many white people to fear black men on sight and I was not helping that perception. I felt inward that I was justified in my pain. How dare society not allow me to all of the rights and entitlements I deserved as a man. The respect, the privileges, my right to rule…as a man.
As a Christian, my upbringing has taught me that the bible speaks of man being made in “God’s image”. While we aren’t perfect, there was perfection in his intent, in his design of us. Simply put, if the All-powerful who creates and who can destroy with completion operates from a place of love, Tten why can’t I? If God were to react to how we humans have acted towards each other—murder, war, rape, abuse of the planet—we as a species would have been eradicated from the very existence that the Creator designed. As a species, we haven’t really evolved…we do the things we have always done…just with better tools.
As a human, I have seen the ravages of what anger can create. Anger for me is a decision: Anger is a weak choice that many reverts to when they have lost control, when they have lost reason, when they have lost love and hope. I have opted to find peace. I have opted to operate from a place of Love (besides, it’s God’s greatest attribute). To tame the beast, I cease to believe that it’s about me, that when people decide to treat me a certain way, to tell me a falsehood, to be untrue, to be unfair, it’s about them, not me. I choose to manage my reaction to their treatment of me. It keeps my blood pressure low, it ensures that my heart beats properly for my benefit. I have chosen not to internalize the pain. Pain can wash over you, it just happens in the human experience but, when you choose to bathe in it…that’s when it becomes anger. I personally refuse to allow anger to define me as a man anymore. Anger is the easy way out.
Sometimes we meet people who are narcissistic, destructive people who are damaged. The true nature of some of these individuals doesn’t come to light until long after you have become emotionally invested. I don’t wish this on anyone, but sometimes these people seek to hurt you emotionally, damage you spiritually and seek to devalue you because of their own pain, their own failings and lack of self-worth. This can anger you too (trust me I have been there). Don’t let it. Walk away, save yourself, save your psyche. Don’t willingly place your soul and sanity in harm’s way no matter how beautiful and attractive the abuser may be.
I am not saying to suppress your anger, I am suggesting that you channel it.
I challenge you to redirect your anger into an exercise or a task that allows you to breathe, to think and regroup and realize that when you respond in love that is your greatest shield against lashing out at what you perceive may have hurt you. Sometimes, the hurt is very real. In my life, the biggest pain has been love. Men don’t love easily, letting the guard down is hard, but when we do? We dive all in and in many cases without understanding the rules (who teaches us?) so we learn by error.
When some men expose their hearts to another and it is damaged, we sometimes take that anger out on the next few women in life, spreading that pain. If you are fortunate enough to have a woman who is astute and aware of who and what she is to you within the orbit of your relationship with her and you harbor anger? Well, work on it, pray, read your bible, learn relaxation techniques and coping mechanisms (see a therapist if you have too, there is no shame in speaking to an objective third party about what you are feeling internal, especially if it will help you be a better person).
If maintaining intimate relationships matter to you, learn to harness and manage your anger because if you allow it to define you, you won’t like what you see. It won’t happen overnight, be patient and kind to yourself because it’s a process. Love your best self, and you will learn that anger has no place in a man who desires to be loved in return. Buddha states: “Holding onto anger is like grasping a hot coal with the intent of throwing it at someone else; you are the one who gets burned.
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