Garbage In, Garbage Out

Rage clouds the mind.

The more incoherent and undirected your sense of frustration and anger is, the more it will act as poison for your mind.

Consider a person, in front of you, doing something that makes you angry. This situation has many fine resolutions, many ways for you to conduct yourself admirably and control your life. You can discuss, you can forgive. You can dismiss and exit. These are not only honorable, but they’re satisfying – satisfying because some part of you knows that you could have given in to baser instincts and lashed out, either verbally or even physically, but you didn’t. You get to be proud of yourself, discharge your anger safely, and live a good life.

Because of this, personal encounters that may make you angry aren’t necessarily something to be avoided! Each one is a chance to grow, learn, and improve your conflict resolution skills.

Now consider a different situation. Something makes you angry, yes. But it’s neither a singular entity nor directly in front of you. It’s a distant “other,” an outgroup, a news item. You can look away, but you can’t discharge your anger. There’s nowhere for it to go. You can’t be proud of your choice not to lash out, because you can’t lash out even if you wanted to – a news item can’t be screamed at, can’t be struck. So you’re left with poison in your heart all day, maybe longer.

In an attempt to expel this rage, some people do lash out or scream. But since, again, the source of the anger itself is something distributed and not wholly real, the only targets for their umbrage are people. These people may be good or evil, distant or close, but they’re never the right targets for this kind of outburst. You poison yourself more fully and you poison them, too.

You can’t even apologize when you’re done. A barfight is better than a Facebook rant. At least when a barfight is over and you realize that you’ve let yourself make a bad choice, there’s a person to make amends to. A way to move on.

Move away from the very sources of this incoherent anger. Don’t even let them in. Read books and talk to people instead. The rest clouds your mind.

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