Anger is a counterfeit emotion. It doesn’t exists on its own. When we are angry, what we are really feeling is hurt or frustration. Therefore, simply explained anger is an expression of these emotions. For something that is a counterfeit, it sure can cause a lot of damage! It is an impediment to our inner peace and to peace in our relationships with others. When two people are attempting to communicate and anger is brought into the conversation, it suddenly creates a dam so that loving energy is blocked off and not allowed to flow. A dam not taken down can cause irreparable damage. Your relationship becomes ‘less than’ rather than ‘more than’. This is especially dreadful if the relationship is with your spouse or children or parents or other loved one. It is almost always important for relationships to grow in love and beauty and truth. Relationships should be something we cherish. On top of our relationships deteriorating, when we allow anger to block our loving energy, we might also be harming ourselves. Our spirits become sick; our relationship with God is threatened and our physical and mental health can also deteriorate. Why? Because we are setting ourselves a pattern. If we don’t practice remaining at peace then we become habitually angry for more and more reasons.
I once saw a woman whose face gave me a shock. Her brow was so deeply furrowed that her eyebrows were drawn together close over her eyes and her mouth was set in frown lines. The reason for the shock was that at the time this woman wasn’t angry. In fact, she was quite amicable. It was obvious to me that this woman had spent most of her life being angry so that as she aged her frown lines became permanently set. I’ve also seen the reverse. I have seen beautiful elderly people with smiley crinkles around their eyes. However, countenance is only the surface. Think what that person is feeling underneath. Where there is anger, joy cannot exist.
Anger happens when we allow ourselves to close or shut down instead of remaining open in love. Buddha once said, “In a controversy the instant we feel anger we have already ceased striving for the truth, and have begun striving for ourselves.” How true is that! How often does it also happen that when we allow ourselves to get angry, we stop actually hearing what is being said? We may even be missing out on the chance of reconciliation but our ears and heart are deaf to it.
Next time you are find yourself in a disagreement with someone, remind yourself to honour and respect them and whatever situation the two of your find yourselves in. Do not close your heart. If you find yourself tightening up inside, tell yourself to STOP and RELAX instead and focus on experiencing God’s love within you. Being actively self-aware is the key at this point. My practice is to inwardly suggest to myself, ‘Relax. My heart is at peace.’
Laughter is also good medicine. If you can stop and laugh at yourself or at the situation, the moment is then rescued. Laughter and anger cannot exist at the same time. In our family, we sometimes recount angry moments at the dinner table just so we can have a good laugh at ourselves. People often say funny things when they’re angry. I suppose you can call it a temporary brain malfunction.
And remember that woman with the furrowed brow? I REALLY don’t want this to happen to me! So if ever I find myself getting angry, I think of that woman and then I remember this awful picture that someone once took of me. I wasn’t even angry at the time. I don’t know what was going on then but it only goes to prove you never know how you look to others sometimes.