Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Why Are We So Angry?

I'm constantly amazed at how much anger management is a problem in today's society. It is one of the most common problems that men and women are facing along with depression and anxiety. I think society and social norms have a big part to play in explaining this phenomenon. I would go as far as to say that depression and anxiety is caused by anger management problems.

Men are scared to express any emotion (e.g., Anger) at all and people are generally scared of them when they do, even when it is through healthy assertiveness. This is especially the case in relationships. The stereotype of the 'Yes Dear' laid back emotional partner/ husband is ingrained in males today. So they avoid confrontation at all costs.

I firmly believe that assertiveness in Australian and western society is lacking. I believe that we are socialised to be too polite and really not very honest at all in our dealings with others. In other cultures confrontation is just expected (e.g., Italian, Latino Cultures), which I think is a good thing and more importantly it is normal and natural.

And then you go to work in an organisation. What happens when you have a disagreement with someone? You have to put it in a stupid e-mail. Of course the whole world gets cc'd into the often vicious conversation, meaning that neither party is prepared to stand down from their position. Why to cover you back-side in case the situation gets escalated or HR get called in to mediate at tribunal.

But it is also a problem for females as well, especially for 40 - 50-year old mothers who fall into the sterotype of being the perfect mother. What ever happened to the 'good enough mother'. Why can't it be sexy for men to see a female slightly losing and getting passionate.

A great movie to watch on this subject is: The Upside of Anger (if you can stand Kevin Costner).

The subject has been discussed by many great Australian authors such as Patrick Smith. They talk about the Aussie Surf Culture (or lack there of). Maybe it is that and we as a country need to get a better and stronger national identity.

And possibly it comes from getting part of our national identity from the English. Having spent a year over in London I can say for a fact that they definitely avoid conflict and are masters at passive aggression (often via email). And that's the problem..... Passive Aggression. It is the worst type of aggression. It is game playing, manipulation and ultimately ends in tears and worse.