"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."
The desire and need to communicate are both inherent in our nature. And at the center of successful communication is establishing mutual understanding. So when something happens or something is said that dismantles, distorts, or disrupts “mutual understanding” the result is pain, often first experienced as anger.
Anger may be the mind’s defense mechanism to stave off impending pain the way adrenaline will strengthen the body and put it on high alert preparing for a fight or flight response. A healthy mind and body will let go of the anger and the adrenaline will subside in order to resume functioning in normal range versus a sustained ‘heightened ability’ range.
Anger is fed when emotions are ignored and by avoiding rational thought. Anger actually shuts down some of our brain’s ability to correctly process information, so rational thought isn’t an option in the heat of anger.
"Anybody can become angry - that is easy, but to be angry
with the right person and to the right degree and at the right time and
for the right purpose, and in the right way - that
is not within everybody's power and is not easy."
I encountered an angry person the day I wrote this article. I know him well. He is someone who has a lifetime of unprocessed pain. He has been a broken soul since childhood. When he unleashed his anger on me this morning, I did not feel a need to reciprocate. I immediately recognized that I was being misunderstood and misjudged, and knew that his own brokenness was manifesting his anger. He has been an angry person most of his life, yet to the public eye, he has kept his anger often hidden. It correlated into being an unhappy person, but he also hid that through other emotional plays.
When he lashed out at me today, my reaction was to bypass anger and go straight to my pain. I was momentarily stunned as he sped off in his car. We’d been at a gas station. I was standing next to my parked car when he yelled at me. At one point, he actually puffed up physically and got nose to nose with me, poised to strike, like I’d seen him do when he wanted the other guy to know he was prepared to make his point with his fist. I didn’t flinch because he’d never raised a hand to me. I just knew he was over the top with anger.
"In a controversy the instant we feel anger we have already
ceased striving for the truth, and have begun striving for ourselves."
Amidst the proverbial dust left by his speeding tires, I began to tremble. Tears rushed like a flood, so quickly in fact, that they simply fell from my eyes without the normal roll down my cheeks. I’d collapsed into the driver’s seat, and sat engine off, eyes blurry trying to figure out what triggered his outburst and to make sense of what felt like a stopover in the Twilight Zone. A thousand and one things flew through my mind flashing like poorly edited movie trailers. I took a few deep breaths and exhaled with some loud guttural sighs and somewhere between the stream of consciousness and analysis, I found some composure and then came the strength. I never once felt anger. It never occurred to me to cuss him out. I never thought of vengeance. It was a crazy display of misplaced emotions. It doesn't excuse it... only half way explains it....
When I realized his anger was not my problem or I should say, I wasn’t going to let it become my problem, my pain subsided. Those thoughts aroused an inner strength and I stopped dissolving. I wasn’t going to let his dysfunction take me down. All this came in the first fifteen minutes following the explosive scene. I drove a couple of hours back to my home and even took a long route that I hadn’t taken in years and photographed some birds along the way and enjoyed the beautiful mountain scenery. Letting go can feel like a gift we give ourselves on days like this.