Let's face it. The modern human being is basically a boiling cauldron of pain and loathing. Not everyone, some of the very lucky and the very stupid are pretty satisfied with things, and there's the occasional person whose temperament is just so perfect that they don't get flustered or upset by the inequities and bullshit of life. Most of us are angry at quite a few things, and for quite a bit of the time. Those that aren't are often sad and possessed of feelings of hopelessness. Modern man is a seething mess.
And the worst part is that we hide it. We stuff those feelings deep inside to fester and rot. We let our emotions and our primitive reactions dictate how we see the world. Girl you wanted got taken by another guy? Start to hate women, or the type of guy who took her (could have been Armenian. Fucking Armenians.) Boss an asshole who abuses you? Take it out on the wife and kids. Etc...etc... So much of our society is driven by misplaced aggression. You don't dissipate feelings, even feelings you're uncomfortable in acknowledging, by burying them in your psyche. All you do is delay them, let them feed on each other and grow. For a decent example of this see Edgar Allen Poe's The Tell Tale Heart . I think we all go through a process that somewhat resembles what the narrator of that story experiences on a fairly regular basis.
That's why expressing hostility is so damned important. I am not suggesting that you hit or yell whenever you get upset or generally act like a two year old with poor impulse control, but you need to acknowledge your feelings, even the unjustifiable ones, and express them. That's one of the reasons my journal is such a dumping ground for negativity. I get upset and angry I sit down and write it up. I turn it into humor or a string of angsty paragraphs, or the occasional incoherent rant. Now there are productive and unproductive ways of doing this. I'm a big believer in intellectual analysis of anger and emotion. I'm upset...why? I feel lonely...why? I'm not in a relationship. Is that anyone's fault? Not really, it's a crap shoot and I'm an odd duck with plenty of my own issues, nobody owes you their love or affection with the possible exception of your parents. This is an irrational emotional reaction, it's just jealousy and desire. That doesn't make it any less real, but it means it's not something to be acted on in any way except trying to resolve the situation by chasing tail (something I don't want to do.) Acknowledge, express, analyze. Simple steps that can help diffuse the emotions in a constructive and healthy way.
This might seem a lot like psychoanalysis to some people, and it is based on the principles that psychoanalysis is based on. For the most part they're sound. A lot of people laugh at the cliche about analysis that all the therapist does is convince you to say that you're pissed at your mother. A lot of them are laughing because they're secretly pissed at their mothers and too afraid to admit it. Freud wasn't perfect, not everything's about sex and death, but his idea of the subconscious mind and the powerful influence it has over the consciousness was pretty spot on. You can't ever push something out of your mind, only into the store room in the back where you will bump your toe on it later.
Writing in a journal obviously isn't the only way to diffuse hostility or anger. I also use humor and direct discussion and poorly conducted therapy. What's important is not how you diffuse it but you do so and in a way that is not destructive to yourself or others. Getting so drunk that you can't remember your own address? Probably a bad idea. A quiet night of reflection and collage? Could work.
And how are the results? I don't mean to toot my own horn, but let's just say that I am significantly less socially maladjusted than I used to be and than I could be. YEAH BABY. Last night was a good example. I was in a pretty intense social situation, at least for me, and I handled it decently. I got upset early on in the evening and instead of lashing out or leaving (the latter of which I wanted to do) I sat for about an hour mulling it over and processing the anger mentally like a liver processes alcohol. Then when it was my turn to offer criticism I tried to be constructive and rejoined the group at my normal level of participation. There are several attractive women in the group, including one who is almost my ideal physical type (something I'll probably post on either tonight or in the wee hours of the morning tomorrow) and I'm able to ignore that, getting neither nervous about saying things that will offend them (I think that asking how long a girl has to be dead before you can screw her without fear of STDs might have done that) nor overly horny and pushy. I know people who would do either one or the other. I can act normal and calm around them and then come home and channel jealousy desire and the like into orthographic discussion. That's a step for me. It may seem silly to others, but I honestly don't give a fuck. Everyone processes information and stimulation differently. The key is finding your own thresholds and learning your own reactions. The unexamined life is not worth living. The unexamined self is a car you don't know how to drive.
Why am I writing this now? Well partially it's a part of my series on my own psychology and thought process and partially it's because I think far too many people are living in a state of shame and inward turned hostility. It's the root of so many evils, from racism to at least some rape to much of Wall Street greed (I can't acknowledge my own failings and fears as a human being, but if I make enough money I will prove my own worth and be able to cover them up. Yeah...that's not going to happen buddy.) If Hitler had written a couple hours a day in a journal, honestly, I'm not sure how much emotional force he would have had left to pursue his ghoulish agenda. That's right, a simple "Dear Diary, why do the Jews get the good jobs and to fuck all the hot Aryan women?" or "Dear Diary, I'm gay" could have saved 6 million lives. Or not. I'm not going to peddle it as a snake oil cure all, just a really good home remedy. Emoting won't solve bipolar disorder or psychosis, but most psychological problems aren't based in that kind of chemistry.
This is also, by the way, one of the major problems I have with religion. Religion tries to impose a moral structure on your outer life, which can be a good thing so long as it's not too strict and restrictive, but it also seeks to dominate the inner life. If you lust you are as bad as the adulterer. If you have anger in your heart you have committed murder. That's such raging bullshit. Everyone lusts and has anger. Priests get stiffies when they see a really nice pair of young firm hips swaying down the street, or if they don't it's because they've gutted themselves psychologically to live with the shame their order imposes on them. The priests who touched the little boys were doing so due to inward turned shame and desire that they were trying to sublimate into godliness but ended up acting upon in different ways. Nobody's perfect, and if there was a God I don't think He would demand mental obedience. What kind of asshole would give us minds with virtually no horizons only to restrict our uses of them to austere contemplation of His glory? A giant ASSHOLE, that's what kind. Religion tells billions of people that they are horrible and twisted if their impulses are socially unacceptable or potentially harmful. It teaches people to deny their feelings and ask forgiveness for natural normal thinking. That's a very effective way to make people dependent on you, tell them that something that's as normal and natural as breathing is filthy and disgusting and only you can purify and cure them, but it's about the worst prescription I can think of for personal growth and personal honesty.
Control what you do and who you hurt. Be very conscious of this because it's incredibly important. Don't apologize for what you think feel or need, though. Acknowledge it, express it, analyze it, deal with it. Don't feel bad about it. Puritan society's demand that people suppress natural urges is unhealthy and unnatural. It doesn't work. At best it leads to lives of shame and resentment. At worst, well, you end up entangled in wars in foreign lands to prove that you're not as inferior as you feel when you go to bed at night.