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Anger and Outrage

Excerpt from Chapter 11 - Emotions

It has become politically correct these days to be outraged by this, that, or the other. Of course as a fundamentalist, I am outraged by gays. Of course as a gay, I am outraged by fundamentalists. Of course as a woman, I am outraged by the white male patriarchy. Of course as an African-American, I am outraged by racism. Of course I am outraged by the right-to-life movement/abortion rights. Of course as a male, I am outraged by some feminists. My question for those so outraged is "Do you like the feeling of outrage?" "Of course not" would be a typical response. Then why not explore the possibility of changing your response? "That's outrageous," I hear you respond, outraged at a new target, this author. For the moment, I ask that you please just accept that outrage is an unhappy feeling.

Outrage at particular people or groups always stems from a thought pattern of, "They should not be ___." It is a judging pattern that fails to accept reality. In truth, they are that way. Moreover, in almost all cases those villainous people or groups being judged think they are doing the right thing! It is a question of unfulfilled expectations.

ANGER TIP: Anger (including irritation, rage and hatred) is always based upon unfulfilled expectations. If I can let go of my expectations, I will not feel angry. (I usually avoid use of the word always; the above use is deliberate and accurate. Please re-read this tip.)

If I keep my expectations, I keep my outrage and my unhappiness. Instead of seeing that there are reasons for those who outrage me to be the way they are and accepting their differences, I cling to my outrage. Why?

Often part of the reasoning process in "why we should keep our outrage" is the belief that we won't take any action to change those outrageous people unless we feel anger. Why do we believe that? Do we need anger to propel ourselves to get an ice cream cone or to go after our true loves? Of course not! Not only is our outrage an unhappy experience for us, but it also is the least effective way to elicit change in those at whom the outrage is directed. If someone is raging at us, our priority is to defend, not to listen. Often we keep our outrage because it allows us to project the entire problem "out there" and to consider ourselves flawless and blameless. Acknowledging that our outrage reflects some of our unwillingness to accept reality would force self-examination of our individual and collective psychological reasons for being outraged.

"Those who never rebelled against God or at some point in their lives shaken their fists in the face of heaven, have never encountered God at all." Christy, Catherine Marshall, 1914-1983

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© 2008 by Thayer White
Finding Your Soul in the Spirituality Maze


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Excerpt from Be Your Own Therapist: "Without goals, or with inappropriate goals, we often founder or flounder. I have seen a number of clients for whom goals initially are non-existent or impossible. They suffer as a result because of lack of direction."