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January 18, 2018

Is anger contagious?
Today I parked in a parking lot at the gym. As I approached my car, I realised that there was a car parked illegally, potentially blocking my car in. I wasn’t sure I couldn’t get out. I remained calm. I got in my car and reversed. It became apparent that I was not leaving after all. I was parked in. I started to feel annoyed and before I could pick up the phone to call the gym reception, a man in a workman’s uniform appeared behind me. He started gesturing to me and helped me squeeze my car out of a very tight spot. As I drove off he said “I drive a Hilux, I would have just backed into their car” and I chuckled and told him I had momentarily considered it. I thanked him profusely and I drove off feeling so grateful for his assistance.
No anger.
As I was driving I reflected on my response. A year ago I would have been irate, I would have angrily called the reception and demanded they drag the car owner out to remove their car. I am guessing that my anger would have been an unpleasant experience for the poor person at reception. They would probably have felt that my delivery was unwarranted and that may have triggered them to feel upset or possibly respond in anger. Or if they didn’t respond in anger to me, they might go home and take their frustration out at their nearest and dearest in an angry manner. The person who owned the offending car would have felt my wrath. They would probably feel defensive and possibly react in anger.
It certainly seems like anger could be contagious. But I have come to understand the nature of anger a bit more. I understand that I would have been the only one feeling my anger. It’s not like my anger can fly out of my body and into yours. The people at the receiving end are experiencing their own emotions. Not necessarily anger. But anger is one of those emotions that are socially acceptable. The offending person would not have felt angry to begin with. They obviously thought it would be fine to park where they were. They might feel guilty and then possibly remorseful or defensive, but being unable to process those emotions, they may end up reacting and a more acceptable expression of emotion would be – anger.
Anger is not contagious, even though it seems that way. It’s one way humans have learned to deal with the discomfort of processing negative emotions. I am developing my understanding of emotions and with that understanding has come ability to process them. I don’t have to lash out in anger as often as I used to. I definitely don’t like the feeling of anger. I didn’t know I had a choice and now that I do know, I am starting to feel a whole lot better.
Do you want to learn more about processing your emotions? Would you like to stop yelling at your kids? Its totally possible! You can find out more here.
Image by Peter Forster, Unsplash