See pink over seeing red

For a lot of us, anger starts mildly enough. We can quite easily tell when we are starting to get irritated or annoyed, or other shades of emotions in the early stages of the anger spectrum.
Image used for representation
Image used for representation

BENGALURU: What are you like when you get angry, especially with someone you really want to love very much?

For a lot of us, anger starts mildly enough. We can quite easily tell when we are starting to get irritated or annoyed, or other shades of emotions in the early stages of the anger spectrum. At that time, we know what is irritating us and we can very nicely differentiate between the ‘what’ of our irritation, and it doesn’t become a ‘who’ of our irritation. We can say, “Stop that! It is irritating!” rather than, “You are irritating. Stop!” The action is very separate from the person, and we might even be able to remember that this is a person for whom we generally have loving feelings, and that this irritation or annoyance is about something that’s happening rather than the person that they are.

We can still see the pink of our love, so to say. The love we feel allows us to stay connected with each other, and we are able to communicate through that connection, holding that connection as important. That’s why at this stage we still have endearments coming in, even when the annoyance is at a level 4-5 and we start to get sarcastic, like: “Babe! Can you please stop strumming the table top? I know the food is taking a long time to come, but do we really need the background score?” We don’t react well to sarcasm normally, and yet, when there’s that little heartfelt ‘Babe’ there to soften it, we might see pink rather than red, and just stop what we are doing, and join in the frustration with maybe, “Sorry, hon! I am just getting really hangry!”

Seeing pink might just save us from seeing red – that absolutely angry place where nothing matters except the anger itself, and it takes over your whole persona. When you see red, it is like love doesn’t exist; there’s only the rage, and a destructive rage at that, which just wants to release itself and validate itself, no matter what is the impact of it, not just on the object of the anger but on everyone. This can quite literally be murderous rage with absolutely no thought for consequences. That’s when we are breaking things, throwing objects, physically hurting each other, and saying the most hurtful and painful things we could, not caring a whit about what was private or confidential, or what was shared in a moment of vulnerability. We use anything and everything we have just to push away, to get back at the one we are angry at, and it isn’t even about what happened at that time to kickstart the anger cycle, it just becomes about that person vs us and that’s why we use the most explosive epithets and insolent insults.

Returning from that and repairing the love we wish to have is hard work. Always, prevention is better than repair, and seeing pink rather than red in how we get angry might just help.

(The writer’s views are personal)

Mahesh Natarajan

(The author is a counsellor with InnerSight)

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