Anger is an emotional state of rage due to a lack of contentment. Anger is born from the unexpected. Things will happen that we don't like and when we are surprised in a negative way, anger often ensues. By nature of establishing expectations, by creating a perceived framework of how we intended things to transpire, we are also increasing our likelihood to encounter anger. What this means is that various situations will happen, situations over which we have no control. In response to those unexpected moments, it is prone to our nature to occasionally flare up in anger.
I decided to categorize Anger as something to belong in the chapter on Forgiveness in my book. Why is anger featured in a chapter about forgiveness? The answer lies in the very definition of forgiveness itself; it's virtually formulaic. I'll take one part the definition of Forgiveness, one part the definition of Anger, and the solution will become quite evident. How is that solution found? Consider the following: Anger is an adverse reaction to a failed expectation. Also, Forgiveness is the act of accepting that which we cannot change. Therefore, to forgive oneself of anger means to first acknowledge the circumstance in the past as unable to be altered . Finally, by accepting the source of anger as immutable, we can let go of the feelings of Anger themselves. It is always helpful to address the offending circumstance in such a way that we also release any hope about it changing. This realization will provide a beautiful home for peace, love, and acceptance to reside. There is an exception however, one that is quite valuable and useful: social injustices. When we feel culturally wronged, we can utilize anger as impetus to benefit society on behalf of equality and create change. The awareness to one's own anger is key in helping to address it at face value as immediately as it is encountered.
To continue with the mentality of feeling wronged, a common source of our anger is other people. We are all individuals, making our own decisions. Sometimes we disagree. This can lead to an argument. Often times, an argument is the result of a lack of communication somewhere. Whether that somewhere was poor phrasing, the omission of truth or a full-blown lie, arguments will happen. It is a common belief that there is only one way to express one's anger in such a circumstance: aggression. Take a moment to reflect on what we know as “road rage” and how that is relevant to both anger and aggression. By showing aggression, it is often assumed that dominance is gained and the argument is finalized. By showing aggression, it is also assumed that Hammurabi's Code of “an eye for an eye” has been established and that justice has been earned. It is often assumed that revenge is an appropriate answer due to the presumptuous belief that aggression is an appropriate teacher. There are many quotes from advice-givers that exist to divulge these assumptions about anger. One of my favorites comes from the voice of the Buddha: “Holding on to anger is like grasping a hot coal with the intent of throwing it at someone; you are the only one who gets burned.” This quote so beautifully describes the truth behind the manifestation of anger because it addresses the assumption of aggression and continues by depicting that anger only harms the thinker.
Anger is toxic. Anger is addictive. Anger can also be contagious. Anger is not eliminated by more anger, it is eliminated by Love. Please try and remain mindful of this notion as you move forward in life. When feelings of anger arise, treat them like feelings of grief. Identify them as merely a feeling. Examine them. Examine their source. Try to understand that the anger was brought to you and that it is an entity separate from you. By comprehending that Anger is not a manifestation of you, then you will find it much easier to free yourself from that anger. You release it, you let it go, you forgive it. Be aware that anger will try and reach you from outside sources; therefore, by being attentive to it, you can deflect it with wisdom and love. Also consider ulterior sources of anger such as being hungry, tired, embarrassed or being in physical pain. This attentiveness will prove beneficial by helping you to think beyond your weary, hungry mind after you identify the origin of the anger. As an example, if you consider yourself to be someone who frequently experiences anger while driving, maybe you can focus your attention onto your anger now with the intent on eradicating it. By understanding that Love conquers anger, you can then fill yourself with so much Love that the anger has no room remaining to exist within you. There have been times, when I've noticed my own anger. In these moments, I pause and reflect on what the expectation was that I had assumed. Generally, once I can identify that the failed expectation that sparked my anger, my anger quickly begins to dissipate. In the midst of driving, you might not expect another vehicle to surprise you which might illicit anger. Address it, accept it as the present moment, then continue in your travels. You have the ability to love every person and every circumstance you encounter. Through this comprehension of love, angry perceptions of wrongdoings will evaporate. Anger will vanish, and in it's place: mercy. Forgiveness is an awareness that we are not entirely in control. As mentioned in an earlier essay on Forgiveness, I love the metaphor of the weather. Anger seems moot if you are angry at the rain. The weather happens outside of our control, just as others will make choices outside of our control. We need to remain open to these new future circumstances so to not let them surprise and enrage us. This awareness to Anger and willingness to constantly forgive is best known as Patience.
“There is no sin on this earth that gives a man such a foretaste of Hell in this life as anger or impatience.” [St. Catherine of Siena]