Every time I turn on the news, there’s a report on some form of angry, violent, or painful encounter –ranging from heated, sometimes irrational political debate to painful individual death and loss. NPR and some major TV networks deliver the information in a calm tone, vs the vigorous blasts from cable news, but regardless the information is circling our world if we tune into it.  Perhaps it’s time to pause and at least ask what’s going on. We don’t have to have answers to start a dialogue….with ourselves as well as with others.

    NBC and Esquire magazine teamed up to do a survey to perhaps help with some information. Here are some of the findings.

    When asked, “do you get more angry regarding current events and news than you did last year?” 49% say yes.   54% of those saying yes are white — 43% are Latinos — 33% are African Americans.

    61% are Republicans — 42% are Democrats.  And this surprise to the researchers:  53% are women and 44% are men.  58% of those women are white and 51% of those men are white. One interpretation they offer is that women feel more empathy with the challenges others experience and are consequently more angry with things like the state of politics, health care, education, homelessness.

    Their survey suggests much of the anger appears to be directed at the “state of the American Dream” ….. when asked “is that dream alive and well,” 36% say it still holds true; 52% say once true but not any more; and 11% say it was never true.

    Perhaps just as important as analyzing the information, is for each of us to ask ourselves –if, in fact, you think of yourself as more angry than you once were — what’s MY anger about? And what do I do with the angry feelings? And how does that anger impact my thinking, my feelings, my behavior, my focus in life?

    We can’t simplify and say anger isn’t good for you. Anger is a normal feeling. It’s the AMOUNT, the level of INTENSITY, and what we DO WITH THE FEELINGS that make all the difference. It’s also important to see a continuum of our reactions to the anger and violence we are exposed to– one ranging from STRESSED AND DISTURBED AND CONCERNED to DESENSITIZED AND OBLIVIOUS… Well, it’s MY measurement — and absolutely not research based.  But consider rating yourself.  It’s more of an informal “mental health measurement.”

    I’m concerned with both ends of this manufactured continuum.  My clients and friends and colleagues report a much higher level of stress experienced … and make an effort to analyze it.  Personally I’m concerned about both the stress and the desensitization.  For example when I see TV or movie trailers, here’s what I notice.  The top 5 to 10 popular or financially successful TV shows and movies are all violent. I can barely watch the trailers, let alone the actual shows/movies. But they are the popular ones.  My question: what does watching that do to us? How does it impact our brains, our sensitivity to what’s happening? And is sensitivity replaced by simply getting angry?

    I am searching for answers….vs typically suggesting actions.  Consequently I’m interested in what you THINK.  Are you looking at yourself as well as what’s going on around you? What are your reactions? And perhaps most important, do you see yourself as open minded, willing to dialogue across differences, searching for ways to understand yourself and thus the behavior of others? Too many people report feeling too stressed by the level of discord — whether at work, in personal relationships, or in the current political environment. Sometimes taking action to do something that you think makes a difference, not just in your own stress level, but in your community, in any way you think you can.  Maybe you are the person to make a difference, even if for just one person……

    Read more in my book YOUR PERSONAL STRESS ANALYSIS.

    Listen to Dr. Linda Moore and Mike Manko discuss anger and solutions on the SteveAndMikeRadio.com podcast.

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