Contemplating Anger

I've often wondered what the evolutionary purpose of anger is as a human emotion. Was it meant to incite us to defend ourselves more effectively against a real physical threat? Anger can, although not always, result in hostility and violence. Often the products of anger are pain and anxiety in yourself and others. Chronic anger about a person or situation only really hurts us. As John Prine so eloquently put it in his song Bruised Orange (Chain of Sorrow): 

For a heart stained in anger grows weak and grows bitter. 
You become your own prisoner as you watch yourself sit there 
Wrapped up in a trap of your very own 
Chain of sorrow 

Perhaps anger is a mechanism to shield us against our own anxieties and insecurities, to make us feel more powerful in situations where we feel relatively powerless. It is also an emotion that others can incite in us to gain support for their agenda. Social media provides a powerful tool to fan the flames of anger. 

The very existence of anger as an emotion infers that it has some value - perhaps to direct us towards change. I think the first step is to develop an awareness of situations that incite anger and try to view them with a sense of detachment. Why am I angry? Is my anger a valid response to the situation? Is my anger caused by my own fear or the actions of others? 

I think it's best to try to counter anger with compassion. Compassion for others and perhaps most importantly, compassion for myself. 

How do you deal with anger?

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