Increased heart rate. Shortness of breath. Impaired vision. That slow, smoldering burn of emotion that emerges when we perceive to have been wronged.
If you or anyone you know have experienced these symptoms, you may be familiar with the disorder known as Righteous Rage, often associated with the disease Spiraling Emotions.
We've all been there. It could take something as simple as a car cutting us off on the freeway or a server forgetting our side of guacamole to start us down the path towards royally pissed off. And in situations like this it can be, at the time, immensely satisfying to wiggle your favorite finger at that crap driver or leave a penny tip for that incompetent waitress.
In these moments, we feel that the only cure for our anger--the only medication that can truly right the wrong that has been done to us--lies in the sweet retaliation to follow. In the manner of the great Hammurabi ("eye for an eye, tooth for a tooth") we have done right by ourselves by taking the hurt someone has imposed on us and turning it right around. So. There. Ha.
Unfortunately, this cure can have terrible side effects. Instead of feeling our anger flow into well-earned contentment as we had hoped, it is replaced instead by guilt and dissatisfaction with the result. We are left to wonder what happened--surely the situation demanded this sort of action, right? But then why are we left feel so confoundedly crappy?
And it is at this point that it is all too easy to let this simple act compound into a series of emotions that lead to a bad day. 'Cause dammit, you earned these emotions and like hell you're going to just move on with your day. Best just to let them simmer around inside you, cooking into a rant that you can later vent out on some poor soul close to you.
Here's a truth that should be obvious: Getting angry is a waste of time. Getting angry and then taking it out on someone else is an exercise in how ridiculous we humans can be when we get all attached and bothered by our emotions. Human beings are emotional creatures, yes. But human beings are also rational creatures who really should learn how to distinguish things-that-make-us-feel-light-and-happy from things-that-make-us-feel-icky-and-gross.
If only the truth was easy to incorporate into our own lives. It is so ingrained in us to believe that we have to hold on to our feelings, letting one emotion lead to another lead to another until they spiral into some sinister monster completely out of our control.
Here is a skill I would love to to learn: To step back, to stop, to pause and acknowledge the emotion but not let it own me. To find patience and to discover the calm within the storm. To not allow myself to feel all icky and gross. 'Cause...ew.
I feel like I have often been the victim of Righteous Rage and that I am a long time sufferer from Spiraling Emotions. You too may be prey to these same afflictions. Join me in the struggle against them and forever banish those emotions that threaten to pull you down. Together, we can find a cure.
There is Hope.