It’s fitting that in a month named after the Roman God of War that we spend a moment to discuss an emotion that has universal recognition: Anger.
A deeply intense emotion, anger can be seen in a wide array of physical gestures—a glare, a punching fist, a silent shunning— and felt as a reaction to a perceived threat or loss. Yet despite this wide range, culturally, there’s surprisingly uniform agreement on the moral value of Anger: not a lot. Anger is considered a form a madness; an irrational, excessive passion that destroys community; and even the root vice that leads to hatred, pain, and the oppression of the powerless. The closest thing to a positive value you find is some saying anger can help drive people to seek Justice, but even that comes with a strong disclaimer of “when it’s really controlled and well-aimed.”
Unsurprisingly, the legal profession has…a history when it comes to this vice. The entire adversarial process of the United States can lead to clients, judges, and legal professionals feeling immensely anger and frustrated over harms done, processes going to slow, deadlines coming too fast. Throw in the sense of moral judgement that being in a courtroom tends to bring, and it’s not hard to see how law offices and courtrooms can end up becoming emotional powder-kegs just waiting for anger to erupt.
So how can lawyers do what practically everyone seems to suggest when it comes to anger: control and restrain it? As you can see here and here, there’s a lot of options on how to begin, starting with trying to find out what exactly it is you’re reacting to and seeing if there’s a better way of engaging with it. Also pretty popular is acknowledging you’re feeling anger and then determining the most productive way of expressing it.
It can be a long process to avoid becoming this angry, but I hope all you readers out there take the opportunity to learn both how to avoid and to maintain anger. In the end it’s well worth it.