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We have all been taught that rationality shapes our thoughts like lines in a colouring book, and that emotions are the colours between those lines, giving texture and liveliness, but fundamentally being subordinate to rationality. This is wrong. Emotions are the lines, and rationality is the colour between those lines, as colour only gives depth but little meaning.

Emotions structure our thought. When you are depressed, you cannot think clearly. When you are excited, your mind races. When you are sad, you mope. When you are angry, your thoughts narrow as if your mind is constricted to one end: the trouncing of your enemy. We enter into a SeparationOfPositions? because we lose our ability to be creative and imaginative. It's as if our heads are trapped inside an AngryCloud.

When we get into a FlameWar, we become angry, and then our minds lose touch with reality. We no longer are able to see from the other person's point of view, and thus we can no longer be charitable to the other person's position. Indeed, we may even fail to AssumeGoodFaith. The lack of charity prevents ConflictResolution and it thwarts forgiveness, which kills ForgiveAndForget. While this is a natural reaction, it smacks of low EmotionalIntelligence?: that is, letting negative emotions impact our otherwise wise and aware decisions.

Sometimes the AngryCloud is really just the deepening of a depressive fog. When people become depressed, they also lose their ability to think, and that thwarts charity, and so they get into a lot of fights as well.

One gets trapped in an AngryCloud for possibly several reasons.

Therefore, you have to use rationality to fight your way out. While the contours of your mind are emotional, the only thing you can do is push against those contours with rationality as a machine engine pistol pumping industrial weapon. Play DeBono?'s games like OtherPersonsViewpoint?, and explicitly brainstorm what might be AssumeGoodFaith.

This doesn't mean stop being angry, but free yourself from the Angry Cloud and use your anger to do something to help you. This will pull you out of your rut.

But, there is no chance you will read this when you are in fact angry, nor if you did, would you even have the mental capacity to do this. Anger can often be alleviated by communal support. TheCollective has to step in to make everyone feel better. They have the power to reshape the emotional contours of your mind to their own benefit or detriment.

See also NonViolence, which is the real idea. This is just a cheap cartoon metaphor.

Note that often people resort to OnlineCommunities when they are in AngryClouds as they push away all their personal friends in a self-destructive cycle. People are always online somewhere and willing to talk. This means you are very likely to see angry people in an OnlineCommunity, much more so than in person, when a person just needs human connection. While this was tauted as one of the great benefits of net.life a long time ago, in reality it is a great drag on net.life. Consider the extreme case of the crossed Finnish lover, he exclaimed on IRC, "i have no-one else to talk about it. almost all my friends have deserted me because i can't leave her lie alone," in response to a completely broken relationship. Rather than drag on the conflict to online life, it's better to find support services, such as phone counselling which is now ubiquitous in most Western countries. After all, people online are likely to make it worse. Lord help him if he crossed the path of a troll, also in an AngryCloud.

Getting out of an AngryCloud

Remember this paraphrase of Eleanor Roosevelt, "No one can hurt you psychologically without your consent." Remember Yoda, "Fear leads to anger. Anger leads to hate. Hate leads to suffering." It's up to you to do some soul searching to identify what you are afraid of. Often that is insecurity. It's the role of TheCollective to AlleviateInsecurity. That's what friends are for. But you can work on that as well.

Run away. The longer you leave the conflict alone, the more your brain will automatically heal to stop emitting the blocking chemicals. Remember anger is a physiological response meant to help you fight or run away, but that means shutting down your distracting higher order thinking. Hence, an angry cloud. If you run away (tactical retreat), you will regain perspective. And you cannot afford to cool down if you're in the middle of a fight, or at least that's how your brain is designed.

Work backwards. You hate someone? Alright. They did some things to anger you. Write them down (privately). What caused those events? Be as honest as you can. Take your time. Work as far backwards as you can remember.

What did I do wrong? Wiki:BlameYourselfFirst, is always the right thing to do in both technical problem solving and emotional problem solving. Certainly the person who caused your anger may be greatly at fault, but No one can hurt you psychologically without your consent. So, you let yourself get angry. You made at least that one mistake. That's ok. It's not your fault; it's in your genes. So, what got under your skin? What fear did the person tickle?

Address your fears. Prove to yourself your fears are false. Devise metrics to determine what is or is not the truth in an external kind of way. For instance, if you feel you are left alone by a SilentMajority, measure the number of people who ask you how you are doing in one day. If your fears are false, you can be secure once again. You can actually become more secure than before because now you know.

Keep moving forward. Conduct BusinessAsUsual. Some of your fears may be confirmed. The best way forward is not always to dwell in the past. Once you have identified the root causes, your root insecurities, all you can do now is get over those insecurities. There is no sense worrying about what mistake you had made in the past. Make a plan to improve the metrics you devised. Keep building. Life is too short to keep poking at wounds. Put a band-aid on it, cut your losses, and keep rolling.

Accept the past. Accept what caused the anger as a benevolent act of god. Believe this event was put in your path to make you stronger: to help you identify your insecurities so you can get past them. Even if you're not religious, everyone's life is full of these random challeges that build our sense of selves, our characters, our identities. Without them, we lack focus, so be glad for them, rather than resentful or regretful. You learnt something today.


I have to say, this has to be the most hippy-assed page that I've written [here] so far. Just wait until I draw the cartoon. -- Sunir "daisies and love" Shah

Sunir, you must have had a bad day to write this and I disagree with most statements on this page. Especially everything about anger being a successful strategy for management and power problems and its efficiency is nonsense. So I conclude that this is meant as an humouristic page. This is fine, but it should be marked appropriately, so that readers are not tempted to take it seriously. If anger is such a successful pattern, why then are most old wikizens so rarely angry? Why do diplomats never show anger? Why does it appear as weakness when politicians become angry in discussions? Why are managers not taught at universities to use more anger to solve problems? -- HelmutLeitner

In my experience, anger generates adrenaline (which I think is an active chemical agent that some people use as a 'stimulant' in certain situtations). In many contexts (e.g. martial arts) accepted wisdom seems to be that the use of Anger as a stimulant clouds ones thinking in ways that are actually more detrimental than the energy 'lift' that the anger itself provides. Personally, I found that Fear is a much stronger motivator than Anger (context -- "Big Wall" rock climbing, Yosemite, Ca.us), where, again the required discipline (as in martial arts) requires one to master the fear, or risk likely catastrophic consequences. In neither of these two contexts is using an emotionally derived stimulant a good idea, much less a positive force that contributes to meeting an objective. -- HansWobbe

Managers are taught to use anger, but they are also taught how to channel that anger to effective purposes. For many people, anger is the first effective solution they discover, because it is part of human nature. It's only with time and education that they find other solutions that are more effective. Also, if a person's friends know that the person is slow to anger, an (occasional) outburst from them would be a clear signal that they've been pushed too far, and so can be very effective in motivating reconciliation. Anger is one of those sharp, precise tools that dulls with use.

For whatever it's worth - back in the bullet points, it's possible to substitute the word 'IS' with the words 'CAN BE'. Anger can be addictive, Anger can be powerful and rewarding, Anger can be a solution etc... Anger is about choice. For many people, it's become a (choice of)habit. Nevertheless, it is a choice. Then there is destructive anger, righteous anger, cleansing anger, zen anger etc. Anger is not necessarily hurtful, red-faced, violent stuff. It is possible to be calm, organised, directed, productive, gentle, humorous, kind, powerful, and angry. -- Craig Andrews

I disagree that "BlameYourselfFirst?, is always the right thing to do in both technical problem solving and emotional problem solving." The world is a very complex and varied place, composed of many actors, of which I am just one. To think that I'm the cause of all that goes wrong is egocentric. One can get very attenuated in assigning blame to oneself. For example, if I am riding in a commercial airliner that is having mechanical problems, it would be pretty fatuous to say to myself, "Oh why didn't I check the mechanical breakdown rates of this airline?" A better problem solving set would consist of trying to figure out how I'm going to survive the impending crash, or making peace with my maker, or whatever. Blaming myself for booking this flight would be useless self-flagelation. --Marc Brenman

Interesting analogy. What happens when someone has mechanical breakdowns on 90% of his flights? Someone who is flying so often that it can't happen by chance. How should he think about this, to cope with the situation? -- HelmutLeitner

Well, that's kind of a theoretical question, isn't it? Q: "What airline must one be flying on if 90% of the flights have mechanical problems?" A: Aeroflot? Actually, this sounds more like a luck situation than an anger one. Unless, of course, one is the mechanic oneself. In which case, one is a poor mechanic. Then, self-blame might be in order. Except no one admits to being a poor mechanic, just like no one admits to being a poor driver, or having a bad sense of humor. So much of therapy consists of moving from the "no one" to the "it's me" category. --Marc Brenman

Obviously if you have really contributed significantly to the situation, you should reflect and apologise, but if your conscience is really clear blaming yourself unnecessarily is indeed useless self-flagellation (not that I'm advocating blaming anybody at all, just that blaming yourself no matter what is useless). If somebody is upset over private information you inadvertently saw while opening an attachment because they asked you to (if you opened it without permission it is obviously your fault), how does it help the situation to say that it's your fault because if you hadn't learnt how to open email attachments, you wouldn't have seen the information? Apologies soothe the situation when they are called for, but blaming yourself even if you are not actually at fault doesn't contribute anything positive - it doesn't undo what's been done, neither does it soothe the situation, because it's just a disguised version of the blame game. --anonymous

I thought this article was really insightful (and I'm not a hippie).

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