Controlling Anger #1: Solving the “anger problem” starts with understanding what the problem really is

Originally posted in “100 天不发火” on 6 July 2016. Note: if you know Chinese, you might enjoy my hilariously bad attempts to say all this (except for the final point 6) in Chinese, which attempts are appended at the bottom of the post purely for the sake of amusement. After this first effort, by popular demand I wrote in English and left the Chinese translations for people who could actually, you know, write comprehensible Chinese.

Helen wants me to explain how to control anger. But it’s not easy to explain in a few words, because anger is not one thing; it is many different things.

In trying to control anger, we need short-term solutions and long-term solutions. The short-term solution involves controlling yourself in the moment when you get angry, in order to minimize the damage. The long-term solution involves eliminating anger, rather than controlling it, by becoming a person characterized by joy and gratitude rather than bitterness and resentment.

Anger can be a physical state, or an emotional state, or a spiritual state, and is usually all three at once. We usually identify anger as a particular emotional/physical state…but that one physical/emotional state can have many causes, and so can actually be any of many different problems. So what solves my “anger” problem may not help you solve your “anger” problem at all, since your “anger” and my “anger” might be two completely different things.

I will try to post a list of several problems that are all experienced as “anger” and that will be all I can do today.

  1. Fear masquerading as anger. If you try to resolve this by solving your “anger” you will fail, because the solutions for fear are rather different from the solutions for anger.
  2. Unjustified / unnecessary anger, where the problem is us.
  3. Justified anger on our on behalf, where other people genuinely are doing us wrong.
  4. Anger and contempt of others that is driven by our own insecurity and emotional need to find other people that we can feel morally superior to (this is actually a species of fear-masquerading-as-anger).
  5. There is also something that in English we call “righteous anger;” I don’t know what it’s called in Chinese. This is when nobody has done anything to us; we are angry because they have harmed somebody else. There are also several different kinds of righteous anger, but we can discuss that later, because I still have to go buy groceries tonight.
  6. Some people do not understand body language and tone of voice, and so they project anger even when they are not angry, without realizing it. Then they wonder why everybody they know gets angry so often, not realizing that other people think THEY are angry all the time. This is a social skills issue, not really an anger issue – except that it causes anger problems since these people are constantly making other people mad at them and don’t know why. It is a strange problem, but for people who struggle with it, it is very troublesome, especially in marriages and in parent-child relationships.

In the next installment, I talk about the concrete steps I take to stay under control when I feel the temperature risin’.

Kenny’s original “Chinese” (to use the term very generously indeed) version:

I don’t want people to have to translate into English for me; so I will try to write in Chinese but then will add what I wanted to say in English, so that if my Chinese makes no sense somebody else can fix it for me. Like this: 姝姝想我说明, 攻略克制愤怒。可是说明简练的很难, 因为愤怒不是一个事,是很多的事。Helen wants me to explain how to control anger. But it’s not easy to explain in a few words, because anger is not one thing; it is many different things.

为了克制愤怒,需要短期的解决办法和长期的解决办法。In trying to control anger, we need short-term solutions and long-term solutions. 短期的解决办法帮助愤怒的时候克制自己,帮助避险危害。The short-term solution involves controlling yourself in the moment when you get angry, in order to minimize the damage. 长期的解决办法不是克制愤怒,是消除愤怒, 是变得没有苦大仇深没有怨恨有快乐有感谢的人。The long-term solution involves eliminating anger, rather than controlling it, by becoming a person characterized by joy and gratitude rather than bitterness and resentment.

愤怒可以是体育状态还是情绪状态还是精神状态,平常是三个都状态。It can be a physical state, or an emotional state, or a spiritual state, and is usually all three at once. 我们平常感体育状态的时候说“我很生气”, 可是这一个体育状态可以从很多的因来, 可以展露很多问题之一。We usually identify anger as a particular emotional/physical state…but that one physical/emotional state can have many causes, and so can actually be any of many different problems. 所以常常我愤怒的解决办法不解决你的愤怒, 因为我愤怒和你愤怒可以是两个问题。So what solves my “anger” problem may not help you solve your “anger” problem at all, since your “anger” and my “anger” might be two completely different things.

我要尝试列举好像愤怒的问题。I will try to post a list of several problems that are all experienced as “anger” and that will be all I can do today.

  1. 害怕假借愤怒 —— 如果这是你真的问题,你尝试解决“愤怒,” 你要失败, 因为愤怒的的解决办法不是害怕的解决办法。Fear masquerading as anger. If you try to resolve this by solving your “anger” you will fail, because the solutions for fear are rather different from the solutions for anger.
  2. 没有理的愤怒, 我们输理。Unjustified / unnecessary anger, where the problem is us.
  3. 有理的愤怒, 别的人真的输理。Justified anger on our on behalf, where other people genuinely are doing us wrong.
  4. Anger and contempt of others that is driven by our own insecurity and emotional need to find other people that we can feel morally superior to (this is actually a species of fear-masquerading-as-anger). 对不起, 我不会普通话说这个。[This means, “I’m sorry, I have no idea how to translate this bit.”]
  5. 也有英文名字是“righteous anger”的什么东西, 我不知道中文名字。There is also something that in English we call “righteous anger;” I don’t know what it’s called in Chinese. 没有伤害我们的时候, 可是人是伤害别人的, 如果我们又愤怒, 这是“righteous anger.” This is when nobody has done anything to us; we are angry because they have harmed somebody else. 也有“righteous anger”的几个种类, 可是我们可以再说,因为现在是买杂货的时候。There are also several different kinds of righteous anger, but we can discuss that later, because right now I have to go buy groceries.

I originally forgot point #6, which I added somewhat later, after I had been told emphatically to let other people handle the Chinese.

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