When something is unfair or unjust, I get angry. It lasts as long as it takes for me to do what I can about the injustice. When I’m enraged, it’s a different story. Most often, while the rage is pointed outward, it mostly has to do with rage against me – I got caught up in an old story, or I should have seen something coming.

I’ve heard rage explained as something that a mother will feel when her child is in imminent danger. That fits, but it doesn’t fit the rage I feel when I’m caught up in my own all-consuming self-anger.

The 2 are different in quality: the first is ‘clean’, the second ‘dirty’. Clean anger and rage lasts as long as needed – until the situation is cleared, usually in a matter of minutes. Dirty anger or rage lasts and lasts, because it’s generally misdirected – to something or someone other than ourselves, so that it never really gets resolved.

Clean anger and rage are empowering, dirty anger and rage are victimizing – victimizing me and anyone I happen to be looking at.

It takes an enormous amount of energy to sustain dirty anger and rage – energy that can be so useful to us if it were released from the bondage of misdirected pain.

Why we get mad

Quote of the Week

The truth will set you free, but first it will piss you off.”

― Joe Klaas, Twelve Steps to Happiness


If you like this article, and would like it delivered to your in-box every Monday morning, sign up here.