Once I admitted I was angry, I started thinking about why I was angry, not the root of it, but the mundane causes and conditions. Once I acknowledged the mundane causes, they started to lose some of their force. Then I could look deeper into the root of it, which inevitably comes back to change and ignorance.
Things have been going well this semester. Perhaps you could say too well, but I don’t really believe that is accurate. I was becoming attached to having things go my way. Now they haven’t and it seems unfair and that has made me angry. Not the yelling, screaming, throwing-a-tantrum angry like in my dreams. Not even grumpy, snapping-at-people angry. It is just a slow, steady drag. Like a great fist reached up into my chest, wrapped around my insides, and is slowing, gratingly pulling everything down into the mud.
The one sticking point is that while I can deal with most of the conditions of this anger in a constructive way, there is one single thing that I feel helpless to change. That helplessness leads to frustration leads to anger, which infests all the other little annoying situations. It comes from a competency issue.
Sandi, my boss, hit it on the nose some time ago. I experience great personal pain when my competence is threatened, when I feel incompetent. I definitely feel incompetent in this, but I can’t really identify the source of it. I have been set a task by one of my professors which I should be able to do. Everything in my training and education should have prepared me for this long ago, and yet each time I attempt it I end up feeling more incompetent than the last. Each time I tell myself this time will be different, I’ll be patient, I’ll take my time, I’ll pay attention and do it right. That has never happened. And it is baffling, for it is completely against my character.
Ignorance and change may be the roots, but ignorance of how to effect change when it is wanted is the true core of my personal anger. My anger always has the edge of frustration to it.
Acceptance then is the antidote.