Anger it is a fundamental emotion that we all feel.
I’ve encountered a few situations recently that have made me extremely angry so I thought I would discuss them with you for three reasons:
- To let you know that everyone feels it, even people who teach meditation and mindfulness.
- Selfishly to provide some of the ventilation that I need.
- Provide methods to healthily deal with your anger or frustration.
I want you to know, that you are not alone.
The Root Of Your Anger
Sometimes anger is justified and sometimes it is unreasonable. Whether objectively reasonable or not, it is always reasonable and right to the person feeling it. The root of anger stems from some level of pain, hurt, or insult inside its host and is often the result of feelings of impotence in a situation. These situations come from times when we wish we could act, when we feel the world has treated us unfairly, or when others simply will not do what they are supposed to.
Most people’s anger can be fundamentally traced back to a cause of destructive emotion. When we act on the behalf of anger, we often do things outside of our moral character. This ultimately causes regret.
There are countless, and I mean COUNTLESS, sayings and maxims about anger and its dangers.
“Holding a grudge is like holding a hot coal waiting to throw it at someone…the only one getting burned is you.”
“Anger is an acid that can do more harm to the vessel in which it is stored than to anything on which it is poured.”
This is one of my one of my personal favorites:
“Speak when you’re angry and you’ll make the best speech you’ll ever regret”.
Three Key Ways To Work Through Your Anger
So, what are we supposed to do with this natural, basic emotion? I’ve shared before and I will share again – I do not believe you should ever deny your feelings.
Acknowledge Your Emotions
Don’t ever be afraid to feel. This means that you acknowledge and appreciate the moments of bliss and joy but also, and this is equally important, do not deny the existence of your more negative emotions.
Denying something does not mean it’s not true anymore than telling a lie makes the statement a fact. In many situations, I have found that anger, if not aired out in some way, ossifies into a deep resentment and misery. You can find yourself obsessing over whatever makes you angry.
In some cases, people obsess to the extreme by plotting revenge. In these moments, your anger is only harming you. If we acknowledge it, we can take control of it before it takes control of our lives.
Anger can make you do things that you would never ordinarily do because it transforms you into a different person. That version of yourself is rigid, illogical, and doesn’t remember any of the good qualities of the offender. It only remembers and feeds on the negative memories in which it seeks to have its revenge.
Always remember that the things “anger” can say or do on such impulses, cannot be undone if acted upon.
2. Direct Your Anger Towards Resolution
The key to directing your anger towards resolution does not lie in denying that this emotion exists, but to deny its power over our actions. We would both be absolutely lying if we said we never got angry. We would have to have achieved a level of detachment and dispassion that would almost be inhuman.
If nothing makes you angry, then you probably don’t care about very much. I can also share with you that in 24 years, not a week has gone by that I haven’t punched something. But, I can also truthfully say that it has been over 20 years since I have done so out of anger.
Martial arts involves a lot of physical combat and can appear outwardly “angry” to the untrained eye, but a true martial artist is aware that the “battle is within,” as Sifu teaches.
What do we do with our anger?
For starters, it’s much wiser to direct your anger towards resolution of what has made you upset, rather than the actual person. If you perceive an injustice, work to make it right. Stewing in your dark feelings is no good to anyone – especially yourself.
How do we direct such an unbridled emotion?
- We take control of our internal environment.
- We breathe.
- We meditate.
- We breathe deeply and purposefully until we can RESPOND and NOT react.
In the added time that our meditation and internal control has gotten us, we can reevaluate the situation. We can determine what we can do to make it better. We can respond well.
Suffering: The Necessary Yang To The Yin
A life devoted to self-improvement, mindfulness, helping others, and meditation is not one free of the regular pains and irritants that we all encounter. Buddha flatly said that “Life is suffering.”
We need to be cautious not to take a pessimistic, narrow-minded view of this and conclude that he meant, “ALL life is suffering.” There are plenty of wonderful, joyous things about life.
“Suffering,” as the Buddha referred to it, I like to think is more about dissatisfaction, impermanence, and imperfection. It is the necessary yang to the yin. There is no light without dark. No hot without cold. No good without bad. Maybe even: no joy without anger.
We need things to compare to in order to appreciate the value of the good. However, we must always strive to be in control of our emotions and not be a slave to them. If we cannot be in control of our emotions, at least in control of our actions. We must meditate and do the work so that we can respond well and how we should.
This is why I practice. This is why you should practice.
Use the tools you have and the lessons you find here to help you navigate the stormy seas. I cannot guarantee perfect weather, but I can guarantee that your boat will not sink if you’re diligent about keeping the water on the outside.