Over the last couple of days I've been paying particular attention to the emotion of anger in regards to several situations in my life. Today as I was driving to different appointments, I started to dialogue with myself about both situations and the anger I felt toward each person. In one case the person is someone I don't really know, but his actions have hurt someone I care about, and in the other case, it's someone I've been close to and I think the anger is a natural byproduct of what's happened between us. The two situations seem dissimilar, and are on the surface, but its underneath where in fact there is a lot in common. I came to the conclusion today that my anger was really a reaction to a feeling of not having control of either situation. By reacting with anger, I provided myself an illusion of control, if only in the feeling of anger, but conversely I also felt even less in control because clearly I was reacting to each situation. The anger was my attempt to have control and I realized the real issue wasn't anger, but rather feeling of control or lack thereof.
I started to dissect each situation, realizing in one situation that my involvement was best left to being on the side and trusting the person I care for to handle the situation, while also providing support as needed.
In the second case, it is more complicated, because I realized that this feeling of not having control went back quite a way, and that the most recent iteration of it involved realizing that I hadn't felt like I had much control over what was taken by the person. It gave me some room for thought in terms of whether or not I had relinquished that control, as well as what control means in relationships, or doesn't mean. I think what I realized most is that I likely needed to speak up more, but also realize just how stifled I've felt. Some of that's on me, most of it really.
Rarely is the surface emotion the actual emotion that's being dealt with. I might feel anger, but underneath the real issue was control or lack thereof. I look at situations where I feel emotions and I acknowledge what I feel, but I want to dig down further and find out what's really going on. I don't think of anger as the reason for what I feel, but rather a reaction to the reason. The same can be said of fear or sadness, love, or happiness. Finding out what's underneath the surface emotion can tell you a lot about the actual problem and what your own contribution to it is.