Anger and negativity are two behaviors I put together because I believe the first fuels the second. Do you know someone who seems angry all the time? Who responds to people and circumstances with hostility, sarcasm, or criticism? Are you familiar with someone who is quick to yell and bite back? Who seems to erupt over mere inconveniences? Are you acquainted with someone who always has a “but” for anything positive or takes pride in predicting disaster when everyone else is sure of success? Do you know someone who boasts about new offenses and takes them on almost enthusiastically?
I believe these responses of anger and negativity come from a place of deep pain. The person’s emotional “skin” is so raw and hurting, the slightest touch produces an instinctive, reactive response.
Some people, fearful of provoking such a reaction, learn to “walk softly” around an angry, negative person. If others respond in anger, the original anger becomes validated and can escalate. Conversely, some people can become so accustomed to receiving angry and negative overreactions that they cease to react at all. In this catch-22, when others respond, more anger becomes necessary. And when others fail to respond, more anger becomes necessary. This creates a spiral of anger and negativity, which is difficult to exit.
Do you consider yourself an angry person? Are other people afraid to express opinions around you? Do you often find yourself raising your voice or pointing your finger around other people or around certain people? Is it more difficult for you to say something positive than it is to say something negative? When you make positive statements about others, do you feel you’re being insincere or inauthentic? Are you able to find more things wrong with a person or a situation than are right?
When you are able to move past your anger and learn to accept yourself, and forgive others who have hurt you, you become renewed and reenergized. When you intentionally grab hold and fill your mind with things like optimism, hope, and joy instead of bad things like anger and bitterness, you are able to change the content of your life. This can be a wonderful and frightening prospect. It is wonderful to consider being different from who you have been. It can also be frightening if you aren’t sure if this new person you’ll become will be safe.
Anger, rage, bitterness, negativity, and resentment are powerful and can take over who you are. They can warp who you are. They can become who you are and overshadow how you feel. What kind of person do you really want to be?
You have a choice to make — are you going to store up good things in your heart or are you going to hold on to the bad things? If you hold on to your anger, for whatever reason, you endanger yourself, for it is possible to be overcome by the bad things that happened to you. You must establish a bulwark against the bad by filling yourself up with good things, like optimism, hope, and joy.
Dr. Gregory Jantz is the founder of The Center • A Place of HOPE in Edmonds, Washington, voted a top ten facility for the treatment of depression in the United States. Dr. Jantz pioneered Whole Person Care in the 1980’s and is a world-renowned expert on eating disorders, depression, anxiety, technology addiction, and abuse. He is a leading voice and innovator in Mental Health utilizing a variety of therapies including nutrition, sleep therapy, spiritual counseling, and advanced DBT techniques. Dr. Jantz is a best-selling author of 39 books and has appeared on CBS, ABC, NBC, Fox, and CNN.