1.10. How to Make Your Anger More Productive

It’s not a coincidence that we have a two-party system that urges us to channel all of our anger and frustration against the people in the other party.

This week’s videos are about how we react to all the ideological and institutional chaos going on around us.

Yesterday’s video was about succumbing to cynicism or despair. Today’s is about what to do with all the anger and frustration we’re feeling.

It’s clear those feelings can be productive, if we channel them properly. But we should consider how they can be harmful too.

I think all the common reactions we have to what’s going on around us—cynicism, despair, anger, frustration, apathy, denial, distraction—are totally natural and understandable.

But the way things are currently set up, those reactions are mostly counterproductive. They’re part of the problem. They keep us stuck in dysfunction.

Reactions like cynicism, despair, and apathy are self-defeating. It’s easy to see how they don’t do any good. It’s easy to see how they get in the way of progress.

But reactions like anger, frustration, or other forms of getting riled up aren’t inherently counterproductive. They become counterproductive in how we use them.

If we’re so riled up that it prevents us from keeping a clear head and making smart decisions, for example, then our emotions have become counterproductive.

Anger and frustration also become counterproductive when they’re misplaced—when we get mad at the wrong things, for the wrong reasons.

It’s not a coincidence that we have a two-party system that divides us in half, riles us up, and urges us to channel all of our anger and frustration against the people in the other party.

It’s a system that’s designed to make the emotions we justifiably feel about this mess as counterproductive as possible.

It’s designed to get us riled up so that politicians, businesses, and media can profit off of our anger. Then, so we don’t channel our anger against them, we’re encouraged to fling that anger against each other.

We’re made to feel like we’re a righteous warrior for truth and justice, standing up for our values and beliefs—when, in fact, we’re playing right into the hands of those who benefit from this bitterly divided state of affairs.

The only way our anger and frustration will be productive in the long run is if we the people stop channeling those emotions into this fifty-fifty stalemate, and unite behind our common causes.

We can’t trust the two major political parties to do it for us. They benefit from us getting angry at each other and squandering our people power. So do many businesses and media organizations.

We’re going to have to do it ourselves. And it isn’t going to be easy.

But maybe we’re getting to the point where people can see how much is being wasted in these pointless struggles. Maybe we’re getting to the point where people can see it’s the system of division itself that’s the problem. Maybe we can start to channel our frustrations against that system, rather than the people who are trapped in that system along with us.

 

This is the 22nd in a series of over 150 videos about how to create real, lasting social change. Click here for a list of all titles, videos, and transcripts.

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