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The Anger Parasite (an experiment)




Sometimes anger is a gem. Driving us to needed reactions. Setting boundaries. Shouting no! Demanding yes! A valuable power source. Often, however, it's a parasite. It looks for a wound and crawls inside, digesting hurt and crapping out rage and resentment as the product. And, once an anger parasite feeds on us, it paves the way for more. In fact, when enough of the slimy creatures are feeding, they may even have the power to take over the host.


Do you find yourself imagining conflicts that haven't happened...playing out full scripts in your head? Heartracing. Fists clinched. Do you plot passive aggressive interactions in order to teach others a lesson about how they've been treating you? Do you justify questionable behavior based upon perceived injusticies you've endured? Do you read into others' words and actions as direct reflections on their feelings/beliefs about you? Perhaps most insideous, are you hostile to people, places, and things as a premptive action? F them up before they do you first! If so, you may have anger parasites. I know I'm familiar with them.


Interestingly, the wounds these parasites most often feed on aren't even anger-based to begin with: shame, inadequacy, anxiety, loss, uncertainty, fear and more fear. The parasites promise relief from these challenging feelings through righteous idnignation. A protective defense. Unfortuenetly, it's similar to the power a drowning person exhibits when they fight off their rescuer. Strong and, ultimaetly, damning.


The other day I decided to conduct a small experiment. Each time I noticed that I was creating a negative narrative in my brain (imagined conflicts, made up visions of others' judgements of me, methods for retaliation), I made a note of it in my phone.


Results: At the end of the day, I'd caught myself feeding the anger parasites 23 times! (granted, it was a Monday). However, by the end of the day, I was catching and stopping the pattern much more quickly. In fact, at one point, I laughed out loud because my resentment was so far fetched as to be absurd (had to do with being asked to change a toilet paper roll when I was busy).


Implications: I'm going to continue paying attention and remember that, even if some anger is justified, I'm the one the parasite is eating alive.

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