0316 – thinking and talking about anger

C: Okay, okay. I think I need help. Can you help me?

B: I can try. What do you need help with?

C: I think most people are really stupid and annoying. And I guess if I’m totally honest, I don’t like that I think that. It’s very presumptuous of me.

B: Just being aware of that, being that honest, that has to be a huge step in the right direction.

C: I know right? I’m so awesome, get a load of me! Seriously though, it’s not helping. I know I’m being presumptuous but I can’t help it.

B: What exactly about people do you find so stupid and annoying?

C: People are really narrow-minded. They don’t think very much. They act without thinking. They jump to conclusions. They come up with really stupid names for things. They have terrible grammar. They get fixated on really rubbishy things. They run the world, and they’re running it very badly.

B: How would you do things better?

C: I don’t know. At the very least I think I wouldn’t pretend that I know what I’m talking about, or that I know what I’m doing. All these pretentious people pretending to know what they’re doing, they’re really just bullshitting themselves and each other. Eventually reality will smack them in the face, but right now they’re having a really good time– better than me, for sure– and I feel like reality is being unfair.

B: Reality IS unfair. Or rather, it has no concept of fairness. It simply is.

C: Yeah well that sucks. It’s really unfair.

B: It’s interesting how fixated you seem to be on this concept of fairness.

C: Is it? What about you? Don’t you feel bothered that the world is so unfair?

B: It is rather troubling, but what can I do about it?

C: You could… get angry?

B: How does that help make the world any fairer?

C: It doesn’t. It’s just better than…

B: Better than?

C: Being a moron.

B: I bet being a moron is great. Morons love being morons.

C: Well, I can’t go back to being a moron, can I?

B: You could do some drugs and get irreversible brain damage.

C: Are you seriously advocating that?

B: Nah, just a thought.

C: So what should I do?

B: For a start I guess you should just think about the longer term implications of your actions, and who you ultimately want to be. How do you ultimately want to spend your life?

C: I’d like to be less angry.

B: Okay. This might sound a little weird or like it’s missing the point, but do you realize that anger is a response that you have? Meaning that there are things happening inside your brain that make you angry. Physical processes, neurons firing and all that.

C: Uhuh.

B: So let’s open up the problem. There are a bunch of things that happen. You are a person in the world, and so things happen around you, and they happen to you. You then process this information with your beliefs, ideas, and so on. Something about the information triggers a response in you, which makes you angry.

C: Uhuh.

B: And you want to be less angry, or preferably not angry at all.

C: Uh, hm. Maybe. Yeah. Probably.

B: You hesitate on that because you’re so used to being angry, you’re not sure what it’ll be like to not be angry. Your anger colors your perception of reality, and your experience of it. You worry that being not-angry means being a sort of vacuous, hollow, superficially happy person.

C: I HATE hollow happy people.

B: Hahaha.

C: I’m not kidding!

B: Sure. Why do you hate them?

C: Because they’re obviously just going through a bunch of motions, reading a script without actually thinking very much about what they’re talking about.

B: Just to play devil’s advocate for a second– how do you know you’re not just going through a bunch of motions, reading a script without thinking very much about what you’re talking about?

C: Because–

B: Mmhmm?

C: Are you saying I’m just as stupid as stupid happy people, just that I’m a stupid angry person?

B: Well, I don’t know. What’s the difference between the two?

C: Uh. I’ve seen some stupid angry people who just get angry at everything. Even at things that can’t be helped. Like bad weather, or the power going out.

B: You don’t get angry at bad weather?

C: Um… I make angry sounds, but I’m not REALLY angry. I know that there’s nothing that can be done. I don’t rage at service staff when it’s a problem beyond their capacity to fix. But I get frustrated when they tell me they can’t do something that they can obviously do (such as serve two things at once, etc).

B: Interesting. So how do you define “capacity to fix”?

C: Uhh. If it’s something right in front of your face, and you can deal with it with your hands, it’s within your capacity to fix? If you can directly influence something. So it’s not the service staff’s fault if there was some fault in the boxed up product I bought, but it’s their fault if they stare blankly at me and tell me I can’t exchange it because of some arbitrary bullshit reason– they’re obviously just trying to evade responsibility.

B: That’s interesting. Do you think it’s within your capacity to become a less angry person?

C: I don’t know. I’m not too optimistic about that.

B: Are you just trying to evade responsibility?

C: I don’t know. I don’t think so. But I suppose it’s a possibility.

B: What would you say if the service staff genuinely doesn’t think it’s within their capacity to do something, even if it’s obvious to you?

C: I… get frustrated that we live in a stupid world that doesn’t teach people better.

B: What if I told you this– from my point of view, you’re no different from that service staffer. It’s within your capacity to get less angry– to use your own mind and your own thoughts– but you’re “obviously” just trying to evade responsibility.

C: Erm… that feels a bit unfair.

B: Which is probably how service staff feels about you, when you judge them.

C: Sigh. So I’m just as guilty of perpetuating bullshit and unfairness in the world.

B: You don’t have to keep doing it. You can stop, just as the service staff can stop evading responsibility.

C: That sounds nice in theory.

B: It feels even better in practice, when you finally get around to actually doing it.

C: But what does “actually doing it” even mean?

B: Deciding to think and feel differently.

C: But I can’t change the way I feel.

B: That’s always how it seems, but truth is, you change the way you feel all the time.

C: I suppose. That’s not very helpful though.

B: Just think about it. Take a long walk. Sleep on it.

C: Okay. *lights a cigarette*

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