Can’t you feel the rage?

Seems like these days, when someone gets upset, they completely fly off of the handle.  Minor annoyances become life-threatening catastrophes, and driving is an exercise in combat avoidance.  People blow up for no apparent reason, then become distraught because they have over-reacted.  Polite conversation hovers on the edge of the abyss, threatening to fall into discord and conflict at any moment.  The intensity of people’s emotions can be physically difficult to tolerate when they lose themselves again in their anger.

Far too many people have bottled up their depression, frustration, jealousy, and anger, so that they can appear calm and reasonable.  But they lose control over their feelings when they repress them, and are easily overwhelmed when something triggers them.  It is almost like they willingly cast away any control over themselves for a few moments, seeking the single-mindedness of rage.

All too often, I encounter people who cannot even recognize their own anger and frustration, who are at a loss to explain their outbursts.  Watching them go from relaxed and smiling to screaming and thrusting their fists in the air in a matter of seconds truly frightens me, because I have so little control over myself when I get that mad.  I am afraid for these people, that they might do something that they have never done before, and so end up in trouble.

We are constantly under pressure through the media to live lives that are productive and happy, by buying things, spending money, pushing the economy along.  Yet, most of us have little extra money to spend, and we often are putting off purchases that we really want.  On the one hand, we are encouraged to spend, spend, spend, and, on the other hand, we are reluctant to part with one more dollar, because we have already spent more than we should have.

Tuning out the programming, avoiding the stress, requires staying away from electronic media.  Evaluating our goals and aspirations in light of what we have experienced is a hard come-down from the euphoria of youth, but we only set ourselves up for a fall when we continue to expect life to be filled with pleasure and distractions.  We have to understand that there are people who want us to chase those pleasures and distractions, irregardless of whether we can afford it.  Their affluence depends greatly on our pretending to be affluent, so they use every trick there is to get us to spend, including making us feel inferior if we can not.

The years ahead are going to be filled with unmet expectations and shattered dreams.  We came to believe that we were entitled to luxury and instant gratification, when we are not.  Much hard work will have to be done before the average American is going to spend freely on non-essential items, but the whole time people will be angry over what they think they are being denied.  Accepting ourselves as we are, right now, is essential to getting away from the rage.  We will always feel unhappy and angry if we don’t like who we are.

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