Turn on the news or scroll through social media and it doesn’t take long to find something that makes us angry and scared. It seems every time there is a new or revisited issue both sides hit the drawing board to create inflammatory memes. I even thought about a good meme in response to a subject that angers me. It was perfect. It was direct. It was cutting. It was merciless. And thankfully I paused before creating and sending it. For a meme is not a solution. A meme is a modern way to express and spew our anger, inciting anger in others.
Anger has become a way of life for many. It has become an everyday state. When we feel injustice or rightful indignation, we get angry. Anger is also a tool for deflection. Perhaps we innocently can not process the chaos of today’s world or perhaps we are actively choosing to blame others instead of looking at the real issue, either way we push our feelings and the fault onto others. Anger is a protective cloak. It protects me from being hurt because I am turning the hurt outward. Anger blocks me from seeing my part in a situation; it is so much easier to blame the other. Letting anger rule our lives only creates more anger, hatred, and distance between us.
Anger is a natural emotion. It is not inherently bad or wrong. Anger is an indicator that something is not right, that a boundary has been crossed, or that something needs to be fixed. Anger is a signpost for reflection and change. It lets us know that it is time to do our own work, seek to understand the other, set new boundaries, or actively make a positive change for all. To use anger positively, we need to pause, process, and then proceed.
Much of the anger distributed today is due to knee-jerk reactions. We see what makes us angry, we then comment on it or reshare it – often without researching if it is true in the first place. When you feel anger rise up in you, stop. Notice it. Name it. We are not our feelings. Our feelings pass through us. By pausing, we can allow the emotion of anger to flow through us instead of hurling our hurt on others or allowing anger to stick and grow within us.
What is really making us angry? It is never about the event or issue itself. At our core, our anger comes from thinking that something we have is being taken away or that we can not receive something we want. Take a moment to look at the topics that really make you angry and explore what it means to you personally. What are you afraid of losing or not gaining? Determine what you need to help you feel safe and secure. Anger doesn’t do it; anger only makes one powerless feeling less free and secure. Instead look at options of what needs to change to make you feel better. Start with what needs to change inside you or with your actions and reactions. It is much easier and more productive to change ourselves instead of trying to change others. Trying, and usually failing, to change and control others only makes us feel less safe.
After objectively reviewing the situation and possible options, make one small change for the better. Nothing will change in your experience or in the world without action. Proceed with humility, empathy, and courage. Do not demand or force. Know your truth. Stand in your truth. And be patient. Larger worldly changes often take time. Start with changing yourself and see how your ripples of hope can affect others.
Instead of creating a snarky meme next time you are angry, remember that a meme is not a solution. Take the time to pause instead of reacting without thought. Then process what you are feeling and why; think through what is in your control and what is not. Finally proceed with an appropriate action. Hopefully then we can move forward together towards solutions instead of creating more hate.