(Disclaimer: This is not professional or legal advice. If it were, the article would be followed with an invoice. Do not expect to win any social media arguments by hyperlinking my articles. Chances are, we are both wrong).
"Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light."
-Dylan Thomas, Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night
Studies show that 1 out of 5 Americans has an anger management problem. According to the British Association of Anger Management, 65% of office workers have experienced office rage, and 45% of workers regularly lose their temper at work. In sports, coaches shy away from their athletes embracing their emotions. As I look back at my barely mediocre career as athlete, I can’t help to notice a difference between my wins and losses. Generally, I performed better with a little fire in the belly. Whether pancaking someone across the line of scrimmage or pinning someone in wrestling who beat me the week before, satisfying the itch that is anger was a joy for me.
Flashforward to 2020 as I sit in a chair slowly decomposing, I pick up a PlayStation controller and start playing Injustice 2, a 2017 fighting video game based upon the DC Universe. I button mash for a few hours as a character named aptly “Atrocitus,” a fictional supervillain and leader of group called the Red Lanterns. He has some pretty brutal moves, including vomiting piping hot blood on his victims, and has great one liners like “I’ll bathe in your blood!” (You know, kid stuff). As I defeat the final boss Brainiac and trigger the final cut scene, I find myself siding with this maniac:
Anger energizes us. It emboldens us.
Before we get dessert, we need to eat the potatoes. The very nerdy comic book potatoes. I was a comic book fan prior to participating in sports, and it tends to bleed through profusely.
The Red Lantern Corps is a fictional organization, functioning as supervillains, sometimes anti-heroes throughout much of the DC Universe. Their power is derived from the emotional spectrum relating to rage. Red Lanterns use red power rings, fueled by the rage of their users and those around them. Like other power rings, the ring covers the user in a protective aura that shields them from harm and enables flight and can create "hard light" constructs, much like the Green Lantern counterparts that most people are familiar with. The power ring fires blasts of rage energy. One of the Red Lantern's signature moves is throwing up blood on the enemy (neato).
A Red Lantern can detect the rage in others' hearts and, by connection, the blood that pumps that rage. Imagine a rage metal detector. Those who face a Red Lantern already in a state of anger are even more vulnerable to a red power ring's attack, as their rage only feeds the attack and increases its destructive power. The red power ring has also displayed several weaknesses. To wear a red power ring is to be overtaken by the red light of rage. It reduces the wearer to act on pure instinct, driven to kill and destroy with little reason or forethought.
Now enter their leader, Atrocitus. According to the comics, he was a native to the planet Ryut in Space Sector 0666. Countless years ago, by the time he reached adulthood, he had worked to become a psychologist and was married to his wife, who had a young daughter. Their peaceful life came to an end when the Manhunters malfunctioned and led to them exterminating all life during the period known as the Massacre of Sector 666. Atrocitus' homeworld was ravaged in this time, and he saw his wife as well as his child ruthlessly incinerated by the android Manhunters, which left Atrocitus as one of the few survivors.
In summation, Atrocitus, along with his Red Lantern Corps, are an intergalactic police force with operates solely on the emotion of rage and enacts acts of violence in the name of vengeance.
What does this have to do with ANYTHING, you ask? Anger is one of the strongest emotions we feel, and it provides us with motivation, power, push, and drive. Blind rage can be useless (especially in the world of sports like wrestling where unchecked can lead to unsportsmanlike conduct points awarded). But what if you harness it? Knowing what anger feels like in your body will help you discern what to do in real-time. Is it a punch in your stomach? Do your shoulders tighten into your neck? Some people clench their teeth. Noticing these reactions at the moment takes practice, but it's worth it to your mental health. Your skill at seeing your reactions is the foundation of emotional intelligence. Focus on your sensations. Maybe you get a headache, feel hot, experience tension in your face, have trouble concentrating, need to move, and have a pounding heart. Knowing the early signs of your anger can help you effectively intervene—and not wait until it rises to an unmanageable level.
Naturally, the most straightforward thing to do is simply to direct your energy towards a task that can keep the thing enraging you from your mind. Instead, channel your emotions toward something positive. Get that extra takedown. Do those extra sprints. Whatever you can do to be better. Your productivity knows no bounds. Once we're angry, were also determined. We want success, or vengeance-and we want it as quickly as possible. Take the rage you feel and turn it into a 5-year plan dedicated to your betterment. Who can’t benefit from that? Don't let all that energy go to waste. Plan now. Go to that camp or get in those extra weightlifting sessions.
As soon as you create your plan, you will be able to execute the steps within it. Don't be afraid to pursue the things you previously decided while you still have the energy to do so. Ride off that determined wave of rage and continue executing the steps in your plan to catapult you to success. When we begin to grow pensive, we end up in a gutter of our own rage. The best advice anyone can give in this situation is simply: “Don't think; just do.” If we're getting caught up in our own minds and thought processes, the best course of action is to simply keep moving. By not leaving time to reflect, we won't question or second-guess ourselves.
Use anger to reveal your weak spots. Some people just know how to push our buttons. They are good at exploiting weaknesses. Rather than lashing out, try using these opportunities to identify vulnerabilities. How can we strengthen our personal defenses? Use anger as motivation. Anger can be an empowering force. It need not burn you up – it can light your path. Use anger to move out of complacency. Often anger is a call to action. You feel stuck. You are sick and tired of the status quo. Use anger as the engine to stir things up in your life. When you stop and investigate your anger, you choose what to do, instead of your emotions choosing for you.
If you don't identify anger, it can squeeze you into silence or poison you with cynicism. The damage to your health, productivity, and relationships can be devastating. You must bring the moment back to know how to use it. Stop avoiding anger. It's not inherently ugly or dangerous. Don't let it fall into resignation or cynicism. When you're brave enough to stop and look at it, you can better determine whether to release it or use the energy to act. Balance your anger with passion for what you want to achieve, hope for a better future, and the courage to stand for the life you want to create. Learning to harness your anger will also prolong your career. It is well documented that frustration, irritation, and stress trigger the brain to release chemicals that cause high blood pressure, ulcers, heart disease, and a weakened immune system. Over time your body wears out.
Intelligence is paramount for a wrestler or a person in general. Shouldn’t emotional intelligence be also included in this? In the words of Atrocitus, “My rage is pure!” You are an angry person, use that.
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Ryan Lancaster wears many hats. Dive into his website to learn about history, sports, and more!