Anger is not the problem

There seems to be a prevailing belief in Western culture today that anger is bad. To call someone an “angry person” is usually an insult and is certainly not a compliment. I am here to argue that anger is not the problem.

Anger is a natural human emotion. Every human being in the world has experienced anger, it would be alarming if they hadn’t. And although there is a subset of the population that has a problem with the way they experience the emotion, for most people, the problem is in the way that they deal with and express anger.

There are three different ways in which people express anger: aggressively, assertively, and passive aggressively.

Assertiveness is the healthy way (see To be assertive means to directly and confidently express what you want and how you’re feeling. An assertive person addresses the issue at hand, but will not tolerate disrespect from others and will not disrespect others.

We all know how destructive aggressive behavior can be in relationships (explosive angry outbursts, screaming, yelling, throwing things, swearing, verbal abuse, physical violence, etc.), it’s what we picture when we hear the phrase “lose your temper,” but there’s another relationship killer out there that is just as deadly, yet too often seems to slip under the radar of criticism: the slow poison called passive aggression.

Passive aggression means to display aggression indirectly. In other words, instead of coming out straightforwardly in an assertive fashion, anger comes out sideways (resentment, hints, eye-rolling, backhanded compliments, sarcasm, bitter notes, insulting gifts, “vague” Facebook statuses, etc.) because it certainly doesn’t just disappear when we sweep it under the rug. A passive aggressive person will outwardly agree to avoid confrontation, but will inwardly resent others.

There are only those three choices when it comes to expressing anger, and it can be incredibly difficult for some to find the right balance, but assertiveness is crucial to problem solving in relationships and the alternatives lead to great destruction.

DISCLAIMER: Once again make sure to read these behaviours all the way through thinking about which ones you are guilty of, before moving on to think about the faults of loved ones. We can only change our own behavior.

assertiveness chart

More resources for the passive:

(Assertiveness Training (Assertiveness Tools (A great book on developing healthy boundaries

More resources for the aggressive:

(Controlling Your Anger Management


The Golden Mean

The Golden Mean is a concept put forward by this guy named Aristotle (you may have heard of him) about 2350 years ago in Greece. (Yes, I did use a calculator to figure that out…so what.) It’s the idea that a virtue (the highest good that one can aim for) lies directly in between two vices. (the Vices being either an excess or a deficiency of the Virtue itself)

For example: Kindness is a virtue, in between the vices of over-accommodation (people pleasing), and cruelty.

Some people get caught up in the wording and argue that this is wrong because one can never have an excess of kindness, and therefore the Golden Mean has no real application. So here is my slight variation on the same theme:

Kindness is achieved when we find the perfect balance of empathy and self-respect. However in excess of empathy and deficiency of self-respect, it becomes over-accommodation. In excess of self-respect, and deficiency of empathy, it becomes cruelty. (See below)

Chelsea's Mean

Kindness is still directly in between the two vices, but it’s not “too much kindness” that becomes a vice, it’s an imbalance of the ingredients that, when balanced, make up kindness.

More applications:

Chelsea's Mean Chart

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8 Common Mistakes We Make When Arguing With Loved Ones

WORD OF CAUTION: Most likely, when reading this list you will be reminded of someone you know. Before I start, I want to challenge you to go through the list at least once looking solely at yourself, and thinking hard about which mistakes you are guilty of, before turning your thoughts to others.

  1. Not being willing to change our mind and admit that we’re wrong. No progress can be made when the common goal of both parties is vindication, and not truth. Admitting that we’re wrong, when we are, is not weakness, but strength. (see previous post
  2. Speaking before having thought out how we feel, or speaking in the heat of the moment. It’s OK to say “I’m not ready to talk right now, let’s come back to this when we’re not so emotional.” And when someone asks a question that you don’t have a good answer to, it’s OK to tell them “Let me get back to you on that.”
  3. Holding apologies for ransom. (“I’ll apologize if he apologizes first.” “I’m not going to be the one to approach her, she can come to me if she wants to work this out.”) Humility is not weakness, and pride is not strength. In fact, kudos to the first person to own up to their part in the problem. And it’s not always one person per fight that is in the wrong. Often times both parties have messed up along the way (sometimes one more so than the other) and this means both parties have something to apologize for.
  4. Disrespecting boundaries that others set. If someone says it’s not a good time then IT’S NOT A GOOD TIME. Respect their boundaries and come back later.
  5. Making statements we have no right to make. We only have the right to talk about what we ourselves have experienced, thought, or felt. This means leave out:
    1. Statements made by other people. Especially when they’re not there to clarify their opinion and/or might not be OK with their opinion being shared. (“Jennifer & Dan both agree with me, they said so.” “Isaac saw you do this.”) Making statements like this makes the other person feel ganged up on, and has the potential to damage their relationships with people who aren’t even in the room. Leave it to Jennifer and Dan to comment on what they think/feel.
    2. Statements about things that we can’t possibly know for sure, like the states, motives, or feelings of others. (“You’re so arrogant!” “You did that to make me jealous.” “You’re angry at me!”) Stick to statements about what you yourself have experienced, thought, or felt. (“You came across very arrogant.” “It seemed like you did that on purpose.” “I feel like you’re angry at me.”) This is less accusatory, because you’ve left it open to the possibility that you’re wrong about their motives/feelings, you’re simply stating how you feel.
    3. Name calling / statements about a persons identity (“You’re a jerk!” “You’re so lazy!” You’re such an idiot!”) Stick to statements about what the person HAS DONE that has made you angry, not who the person IS. (“You said some things that hurt me.” “You haven’t done you’re share of the chores.” “That decision you made wasn’t very smart.”
  6. Saying things we don’t mean/being vengeful. Anger does not give you the right to hurt others. Being hurt by others doesn’t give you the right to hurt them back. You’re responsibility to treat the other person with respect and to love them does not go on hold just because you’re fighting. You’re still just as responsible for everything you say and do. Saying hurtful things in anger for the sake of hurting someone can tear down walls of trust that took years to make, within one single moment.
  7. Non-confrontation / Swallowing our feelings in order to “keep the peace.” (to be addressed in further detail in a coming post). When people play by the rules, confrontation is not a thing to be feared. In fact, arguments (sometimes heated ones) are essential to healthy relationships. They are how we fix things when they get broken. So when people fail to say how they really feel, and go on telling little white lies for fear of conflict, it kills opportunities for growth. Swallowing our opinions in an argument is the equivalent of going to a Doctor’s office and not telling the Doctor that you’re arm is broken. How can you expect a problem to be solved that the other person doesn’t even know is there?
  8. Taking criticism personally / Getting offended by things that aren’t offensive. (to be addressed in further detail in a coming post as well) The truth shouldn’t hurt if we’re humble and secure. If someone points out an imperfection that I have or a mistake that I made, it should not be the end of the world. It’s in no way connected to my value as a person and doesn’t mean they dislike me. If it’s true, it simply means that I have a fault (just like every other human being on this Earth) and may need to remedy a certain behaviour. And if it’s untrue, the person simply made a mistake/got the wrong impression. The only reason a statement should hurt is if there is hurtful intent behind it.


Why Logical Reasoning is so Important to a Loving Relationship

Almost all of us have heard this verse at some point in our lives:

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.”

There’s a reason this piece of wisdom is so extremely popular in wedding vows and framed embroideries the world over. It paints a perfect picture of a truly loving relationship.

A loving relationship is one where love comes before all else, where both partners are more concerned with doing right by each other, than they are with feeding their own pride, selfishness, or fear.

“it is not proud”

“it is not self-seeking”

“Love…rejoices with the truth.”

The time when this often becomes most important in relationships is during arguments. When we’re hurt or angry and all of our defense mechanisms flare up. Pride becomes inflamed, insecurities come to the fore, and selfishness is at it’s peak . The question strays from “What is wrong and how do we make it right?” to “How can I get what I want?”

This is the point where logical reasoning is absolutely vital, because it’s the only straight path to truth. It leaves no room in the equation for bias. The reasoning is either sound or it’s not, it’s valid or it’s not. And so you’ve either found the truth, or not. It’s irrelevant what one would like to believe or, more often than not, what one wouldn’t like to believe. It’s only relevant what actually is true.

In this way, with truth as the main objective, progress can be made. Arguments can actually strengthen relationships, instead of stunting their growth.


How do we reason logically?

Continuing on from the previous post, what are the laws that govern reason? How do we reason logically?

A very basic example of a logical argument is the Syllogism:

Syllogism: A + B = C

  • A is the Major premise.
  • B is the Minor premise.
  • C is the conclusion.

In deductive reasoning, in order for the argument to be considered logical, it must be considered both valid and sound.

In order for the reasoning to be valid, the conclusion must follow from the premises.

In order for the reasoning to be sound, it must be valid, and the premises must be true.
If the reasoning is valid and sound, the conclusion must be true.

Example 1 (most famous example of a syllogism):
Socrates is a man. All men are mortal. Therefore, Socrates is mortal.
A                  +           B                       =                      C

I don’t claim to be an expert logician, (far from it) but I always strive to be logical in my thinking.

Because if we’re not willing to abide by the laws of logic, we might as well be playing a board game where each player can decide to follow a different set of rules. It’d be so arbitrary and unfair. Like the way that children will make rules up and add them as they go to give themselves advantages.

In order to play fair, we must put aside our biases and reason logically.

Here’s a great resource for beginners to learn how to reason logically (from somebody much smarter than me on the topic):


How do we find truth? / What is logic?

So if truth/reality exists independently of our minds and is a thing that we don’t create but discover – how do we discover truth? How do we figure out what’s true and what’s not? I think the answer is logic. We must carefully & unbiasedly examine the evidence before us, and reason logically to uncover the truth that the evidence points to.

What is logic? Merriam-Webster defines logic as:

log-ic (noun) \ˈlä-jik\ (1) :  a proper or reasonable way of thinking about or understanding something (2) :  the science that studies the formal processes used in thinking and reasoning

What most people don’t realize about logic, is that it’s more than just a word to be thrown around when people disagree with us: “If you would think logically for a moment you’d see my perspective.” Logic doesn’t mean whatever form of reasoning I used to get to my answer. It means the proper way of reasoning. And there are very formal rules that define logic, in the same way that there are formal rules that define mathematics. If we break one of these rules in mathematics, we come up with an incorrect answer. This is the same with logic.

Therefore it’s silly to say things like “Well, by your logic that’s correct, and by mine that isn’t.” Because logic is the proper way of reasoning. It exists independently of us and is unaltered by our failure or success in adhering to it. If we both adhere to the laws of logic, we should get the same answer, just as, if we both adhere to the laws of mathematics when considering 4+5=X we should both get 9 as the correct answer.


What is truth?

So, if it’s crucial that I live my life according to truth and not pride, fear, or greed, then I had better consider this question: What is truth?

Some people say they believe that truth doesn’t exist, or that it’s subjective. “What’s true for you, isn’t necessarily true for me.”

But I think this is false. Truth cannot be something that differs from person to person. Perspective is definitely different for each person, and we can therefore hold different beliefs about what’s true. But truth itself exists separately from us and isn’t affected by our beliefs about it.

Otherwise our lives would’ve been total chaos until we thought up math. But, thankfully, we didn’t “think up” mathematics. We discovered mathematical truths that had existed the whole time. For example, 2+2 has always been 4, even before we discovered it and decided what to call “two” and “four.” And 2+2 will still be 4, whether I choose to believe it or not.

Consider the statement: “There is no such thing as truth.” What you’re really saying is, “The truth is, there is no truth.”

  • If the statement were true, than it could not be true, because no truths exist.
  • And if the statement is false, than it’s false.

There is no way that truth can be subjective without contradicting itself. Truth is objective. Truth/reality exists independently of our minds. This is the nature of truth. We do not create it, we discover it.


How should I live my life so as not to waste it?

This past year especially has taught me that life is not a thing to be wasted. It’s precious. And infinitely valuable. Which leads me inevitably to the question: how should I live my life so as not to waste it?

This is possibly the most important question a person can ask themselves. But also the most difficult, as the possibilities are near endless.

An easier place to start might be, how do I waste my life? As I’m only 22, my knowledge of this subject is limited, I can’t say with any certainty what things I might look back on at the end of my life and regret. So let me start with what I do know.

I know that, so far, all the time I’ve spent on fear, pride, and greed has been a waste of time.

I know that, so far, all the time I’ve spent with loved ones, has been invaluable.

I know that I feel the most alive when I’m loving people, seeking truth, experiencing nature, and expressing myself.

Therefore, for me, a wasted life would be one spent selfishly. One spent letting pride, fear, and greed dictate my actions instead of truth and love.

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Reason for writing

I love writing. Writing helps me clarify how I feel and what I believe and who I am. It satisfies that thing deep down inside me that cries out for answers. And as it turns out, that thing, the thirsty beast in my soul, has been crying out very loudly for quite some time now.

So although I don’t quite know where to start, I think it’s time that I do.

And thus: this blog.