Aggrandising Anger Culture in Turkey

Anger, like any other emotion, is part of being human. It is neither good nor bad, and it is actually an important emotion. We really need it. We couldn’t live without it. We need a certain part of it for certain aspects of our lives. We need that! It is just not too getting caught up on it and not creating a storyline around it. Yet, I always found myself getting caught up in it and creating a storyline around it, especially in situations where I didn’t know how to cope with them.

As a man who has born, raised, and spent 32 years in Turkey, not being able cope with certain situations forced me to look at what was under the carpet. If I wanted to put my learnings in a very simplistic way:

  1. I didn’t have any past experience in coping with that situation.
  2. I didn’t know what I was really feeling at that moment, and confusion led to more anger and rage.
  3. I didn’t want to confront it and avoided the situation which turned into resentment.

The list above doesn’t answer the why question. But finally, I found the “why” piece. As an outsider to Turkey for some time and experiencing different cultures around the world through work or friendships, I didn’t see a culture that aggrandizes and promotes anger like in Turkey. The angrier you are, the more masculine you are. The angrier you are, the more respected by society you are. The angrier you are, the more people are trying to please you. But what these lead to is expressing yourself through anger pretty much in every situation. And because of that, it was impossible to develop coping skills rather than showing anger all the time.

Imagine a baby. Because the baby is not able to speak yet, they tend to cry, or be angry and throw things here and there to take some attention for their needs. And imagine a 37 years old man who is not able to cope with a situation. He immediately becomes angry. He is not able to cry like a baby because he will be seen as weak (due to anger and masculinity) and not able to solve it through communication because he doesn’t have the experience to express his needs through words yet. Over time, anger will create intrusive thoughts, because the situation was not handled in a healthy way. Over time intrusive thoughts will become a fantasy. A fantasy that will stick in the mind which will cause distress and anxiety. Unfortunately, it will end up with a system crash, or like in many cases in Turkey, it will end up with violence.

What worries me is that anger has become a dominant power in the culture of Turkey. It is leading and deciding pretty much everything. It became the symbol of power and respect. From 0 to 90 years old, if this is the culture you grow up in, it becomes your identity. And if this is the only way for you to cope, you will fail really hard in the end. Now, I truly realize how irritating it could be on the other side of this anger and how irritating I was before -my apologies to everyone.

Anger is a needed and important emotion. But it shouldn’t be a dominant emotion. And we shouldn’t create storylines around it. As a famous proverb in Turkey, you reap what you sow. If you reap anger, you sow anger and violence.

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