I’ve hesitated writing this post. I’ve started and stopped it several times. Today is the day. My concession is to open with a disclaimer to those who might misinterpret whist I’m saying.
Anger is dangerous. Many people wield it as a weapon against others in this world. Many have immense anger at the global political and economic system and not without some reason. Yet, their philosophy, driven by anger, holds only the hope of replacing the current angry system with another angry system more to their liking.
Anger creates physical and emotional damage in the world. It’s not a zip code you want to move into. Eventually, persistent anger consumes the angry person, leaving them alone and unhappy. That only feeds the angry fire within them.
But, and it’s a big but, anger does have a place in a healthy and wise human being. There are things that deserve some anger. Few emotional states, at least in short bursts, better focus our senses or stoke our determination like a little healthy anger. Used consciously, anger is like rocket fuel. It can move us further and faster.
Here are some tips to make your anger more conscious and productive.
- Use anger sparingly. One of its dangers is it can become addictive. It does initially produce desired results. Some might view it as a shortcut to getting their needs met.
- Be specific. When anger is justified, it’s because of a specific situation. Don’t be mad at the world or broad swaths of people. That’s not productive or conscious. Be clear on the what and why of your anger.
- Avoid hatred and bigotry. Keep the source of your anger in perspective. Avoid progressing into bigotry or hatred. Refuse to dehumanize them even in response to them dehumanizing you. That creates an endless cycle anger and perhaps violence and serves no one.
- Internal fuel. Let the anger fuel productive action. Don’t lash out at others. Let their criticism or wronging of you drive you forward. Prove them wrong rather than attacking them.
- Recognize fear. Often anger is manifested by unresolved fear. Learn to recognize the difference. Fears can be dealt with at their root rather than precipitating anger.
- Short bursts. As stated above, taking up residence in an angry place destroys you and all around you. Use legitimate anger in short, productive bursts. Then let it go.
- More positive emotions. Never use anger when a more positive emotion would serve just as well. Radical love can often achieve all anger can. Forgiveness is often more powerful than staying in anger. Maybe the greatest enlightenment related to anger is getting to a place where you no longer need it or respond with it at all.
In summation, anger is like chemotherapy. It will eventually kill the patient. Your goal is to use it sparingly and in productive ways, as you slowly ween yourself off the need for it.
As Buddha said in the Dhammapada:
He insulted me, he struck me, he cheated me, he robbed me”: those caught in resentful thoughts never find peace.
He insulted me, he struck me, he cheated me, he robbed me”: those who give up resentful thoughts surely find peace.
For hatred does not cease by hatred at any time: hatred ceases by love. This is an unalterable law.
There are those who forget that death will come to all. For those who remember, quarrels come to an end.
Let your wisdom guide you and keep a short leash on your short fuse.
Ray Davis is the founder of The Affirmation Spot. He’s been studying and practicing personal development for 30 years. He’s also studied many of the world’s spiritual traditions and mythologies.
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