We are typically raised to believe that a fundamental aspect of human nature is negative. Aggression. For the most part, those that exhibit aggressive behaviour are vilified and ostracised almost universally. What if I was to tell you that aggression (when controlled) can be utilised positively? I am sure most people would initially disagree.

Aggression has a perception problem. Most people that think of someone as aggressive equate it to how that aggression is manifested, which is usually violence. Controlled aggression doesn’t always manifest as violence, however, and can be used to overcome numerous obstacles in day-to-day life. First and foremost, controlled aggression can assist with focus on an immediate task and provide a strong motivator.

In emergency situations, there are numerous accounts of people achieving inhuman feats of strength to save others and many achieve this through channelling that aggression. I saw this first hand when I was still serving in the military. One of my colleagues fell asleep while driving and veered off of the road, flipping the car in a ditch filled with water. The Major in charge of our Company ran over to the vehicle and pulled the door clean off the hinges. Essentially, he ‘hulked out’ through use of controlled aggression.

The average person isn’t frequently put in life and death situations, so the immediate advantages of controlled aggression are not so evident. In human interactions, you have probably come across someone that is great at using their aggression to dominate a social situation but most people identify this as confidence. There is a distinct difference between the two. A confident person exhibits self-assuredness in their interactions regardless of the situation. A person using controlled aggression is dominating an interaction to achieve an outcome.

It is important to note that use of controlled aggression is not appropriate in all circumstances, but it should become a weapon in your arsenal that is available if needed. A historical stereotype that was in evidence of many ancient cultures was the warrior-poet. A man that was educated in warfare as well as intellectual and emotional self-reflection. These men understood the requirement for controlled aggression in the right time and place, but were not inherently violent people. On the contrary they were of the finest minds of their age. Alexander the Great was named ‘the Great’ for a reason.

Why, then, does modern society continue to vilify the concept of aggression? I completely understand the issue with a potential bi-product of aggression, violence, as that is generally unacceptable. But aggression as an isolated concept should be re-defined as it is neither inherently good or bad.

I once read a sci-fi story, where a group of scientists had isolated a gene that defined pre-disposition to aggression and created a virus to kill those that had that genetic makeup. The rationale was that without those people in society, inter-communal violence would be a thing of the past. The final paragraph of the book read something along the lines of “to anyone looking in at Earth, all they would see is a planet that has forgotten how to defend itself.”

As aggression does not always equate to violence, let’s create a dialogue where we can understand the human (predominantly male) predisposition to aggressive behaviour without vilifying the behaviour out of hand. A lot of men feel a disconnect due to the inability to find outlets for aggression in modern society. We have an internal conflict between our instinctive behaviour and conscious behaviour, which is unhealthy for our mental wellbeing. Find an outlet for controlled aggression in a positive manner, and you will feel significantly mentally healthier.

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