(Title credit: Sydney J. Harris)
‘Anyone can become angry –
that is easy.
But to be angry with the right person
and to the right degree
and at the right time
for the right purpose
and in the right way –
that is not so easy.’
I don’t know about you, but I have not always applied my anger in the ‘Aristotle Way’.
To state it as it is – I got pissed off very quickly.
Now, in hindsight, I can see that it had to do with feeling threatened in some way.
I used to equate being angry with being powerful – it showed that I would not stand for nonsense, nor let myself be bulldozed in any way.
However – it turned out that I was so wrong in my thinking.
But there I was, feeling embarrassed about getting angry – and, wait for it – feeling angry at myself that I got so angry.
Luckily, I eventually saw what I was doing – and I took measures in understanding this powerful emotion.
Anger is a Trickster
The outward display of someone else’s anger was sometimes so powerful that I cowered in its presence.
As a small child, I somehow created this nice little neural pathway in my brain, to react in fear whenever confronted with an angry person.
Later on, I too would use anger to puff up my importance, my ego and my sense of self.
But herein lies the Trickster nature of anger:
- being angry is not the same as being in our power
- venting anger is not same as having the courage to speak our truth
- using anger to control and cower others is not the same as collaborating with others for the good of all beings – manipulation versus cooperation.
Anger is extremely detrimental to our health.
Anger not only often leads to resentment, but to severe emotional imbalances like depression, anxiety, lack of self-worth – all examples of anger turned inwards. For anger not expressed in a healthy and responsible manner outwardly, will fester and eventually severely disrupt the balance of well-being.
Anger harms the body.
Anger harms the mind.
And it damages the heart.
Anger affects our nervous system, overloads our adrenals and overtaxes our immune system.
This is how powerful its energy is.
However, in its essence, when channeled correctly, anger holds immense power, energy and creativity.
As Mahatma Gandhi pointed out:
‘As heat conserved
is transmuted into energy,
even so our anger controlled
can be transmuted into a power
which can move the world.’
It is the journey of the individual, to find ways to transform anger into creativity, balance and eventually into authentic self power.
Self-power lies in cultivating a responsibility for one’s reactions.
Self-power lies in being able to stop before one reacts.
Self-power lies in understanding anger and learning how to transform it for the benefit of all beings.
Some points to ponder:
- only you can make you angry – your response to any situation lies within you
- think about the times you had gotten angry – was it really worth it?
- how did you feel when you got angry? Emotionally and physically.
- what and who is so important that you allow them to steal your peace, your calm, your health?
Reacting from anger, or reacting to anger – disempowers us and everyone else.
It keeps us hostage to emotions – whether our own or someone else’s.
It depletes our life force, our energy – and shortens our life.
It makes us small and fearful – timid, eventually.
And trying to live a courageous, meaningful and creative life from any of these premises, is quite frankly, impossible.