The Stigma of Anger

By Ray Navarro MS 

When I was a kid, I was an angry one. I was bullied, picked on, and at times I was even chased from school all the way home. I grew up hating people. I used my anger as a way of not just protecting myself but also as a way of getting respect. I felt if people were afraid of me then they wouldn’t mess with me. Nothing could have been farther from the truth, people just avoided me. They didn’t see the hurt kid that was lashing out because he was sad, they saw an asshole that was making everyone else’s life a living hell.

As a therapist I’ve come to learn that anger is a secondary emotion. What does that mean? That means that anger can’t come from itself. You don’t automatically become angry, there is always a trigger, whether you see it or not. Cause guess what, anger also clouds the mind. There are many reasons to get angry but over the years of working in mental health I’ve broken it down to just a few. 1. Sadness. Anger is a defense mechanism for sadness because most of us perceive sadness as weak and how dare we be sad because of what someone else did to us, “they deserve to pay”. 2. Ignorance. This one usually evolves into hate. Many people are confused by what they don’t understand. And confusion can cause a whole mess of issues with self-esteem and self-confidence, so what does the brain do? It defends you. “I’ve never seen blue people like that, they must be different than me, they must want to use me or hurt me, they’re gonna mess up our country, they’re going to steal and hurt our women and children” complete idiocy through ignorance. 3. Fear. This is one that strikes home for many people. How many time have you been scared to do something but you got that nagging friend or parent that keeps insisting you do it? What eventually happens? “Leave me the hell alone I already told you I’m not doing it and I’m tired of your BS” or maybe you even blame the other person for your fear so that you can deflect your own fear without even knowing!

The last one on my list of anger triggers was given to me by another therapist, “the fear that an injustice has been committed”. Maybe you see veterans getting yelled at in the airport; or an old lady being pushed to the floor by some young delinquent; or maybe you thought you did better on that evaluation than your boss gave you credit for. All of these are good reasons to be angry, the problem is in how we react to that anger. Anger is normal. Its human nature, but it’s something that needs to be managed not controlled. We can’t hold anger forever we’ll eventually blow up. You have to let it out little by little. Use introspection, why am I angry? Use a ten second rule before responding when you’re angry, it’ll give you time to bypass the emotion and use logic. Exercise is my favorite coping skill, just run it out or go to Jiu Jitsu. The one thing I know for sure is that if you’re not using your anger to fight injustice than your anger has no point. Anger is perspective, stress is the number one killer in our country, add them together and your angry perspective will literally kill you. Or at the very least cut some years off your life.

Next time you get angry ask yourself two things, “is this worth my health” and “is this going to improve my situation”. If the answer is yes than rage away, but if it’s not, take a breath and give me a call. You are never alone.

Ray Navarro MS


Virus or Quarantine? loss of health or loss of mind?

By Ray Navarro MS 

As adults most of us are struggling to make sense of what we should do in these insane times. Depending on what channel you watch, it has a direct effect on how you’re handling this crisis, at least for a lot of us. But this rant isn’t about a conspiracy theory or an attack on science, it’s about our children. Right now kids are being left at home alone because their parents, people like me and you, are having to choose between watching their kids or putting food on the table. On top of that kids are starting elementary, middle, and even high school online. This shouldn’t seem like a big deal but in just a couple of weeks we’ve seen multiple system failures, a hack on an entire county school system, and that’s not even considering the technical issues with the ten year old computers that were given out and have no volume! And that’s if your child was even lucky enough to get a computer. Some are sitting at home, with no parents, just staring at the ceiling. For the kids that are lucky enough to have the materials they need, god bless and I hope you show the gratitude to not block your screen and mic so you can play fortnite.

What about the teachers? I know a teacher that has had to learn 3 different platforms in as many days because they all failed while she was giving class. Mind you shes 65, and up until recently thought zoom was to magnify her desktop screen. I’m not an administrator, i’m not a politician, and i’m not an MD, but what I am is a clinical counselor with close to ten years experience in mental health. What is happening to our kids is something we will be coping with way after the virus has left us.

So what can we do? It seems that most school boards, at least the ones down here in south Florida, appear as if they’re about to give up on their plans. They tried, they’ve adjusted, but nothing has worked. So has the time come? Are we giving up and taking our chances with the virus? Do we risk the lives of millions? I don’t know, but as a counselor and parent I know that I need to provide balance for my children. They keep the same bed times, guaranteeing at least 8 to 9 hours. At least 30- 60 minutes of exercise everyday, they need to feel the sun on their faces and the fresh air in their lungs. Find a new hobby, learn the piano, learn coding, learn how to draw, all easily found and inexpensive on the internet. Lastly try to set up face-time play dates or some movie nights with their friends. Education is crucial but so is friendship, family, sleep, and exercise. When we lack in one, the others will always suffer. Finally, and im clearly biased, but therapy and support groups are always a plus.

I’m here to help, if you have a question or just need some advice, reach out. lets talk.

Ray Navarro MS