Blood pumps vigorously through throbbing veins, your muscles tense and your fists clench. You are primed and ready for action.
Roaring with rage you launch yourself at your washing machine, which has consistently failed to work for the past 5 days in a row despite your best efforts to fix it.
Even the time honoured method of kicking a mechanical appliance when it’s down, failed. Shaking your head in disgust, you swing a well-aimed kick at the machine, and then jump around holding your leg and cursing the workmanship of the machine’s solid steel outer body.
Anger can be an extremely destructive force. Old wives tales are often spun about how thunder and lightning is God’s way of showing anger, and how hurricanes and typhoons are Neptune’s way of striking back at man for the unceasing desecration of the sea. While these are tales are fictional, it serves to illustrate how anger is related to destruction.
Religion itself has a great deal to say about anger, generally, abhorring it. A search on Wikipedia finds three major world religions with words to say on the subject.
In Islam, anger is seen as a sign of weakness where Muhammad said, “The strong is not one who overcomes the people by his strength, but the strong is the one who controls himself while in anger”.
In Buddhism, anger is defined as, “being unable to bear the object, or the intention to cause harm to the object.”
In Christianity, the Bible warns, “Do not let the sun go down on your anger”, or do not let feelings of anger last so long as to become sinful, but rather deal with them before they reach that point.
But does the emotion of anger really deserve all the negative press it gets? Surely we’re supposed to be given some leeway for directing anger at injustice, abuse of human and animal rights, and racism? There was a story in the Bible where it told that Jesus got angry at the merchants in the temple and pretty much in a fit of rage, sent tables and chairs flying all over (which kinda indicates that He probably had brute strength to add to His already substantial list of positive traits).
Injustice itself is probably one of events most likely to trigger a bout of anger expression. A sense of unfairness topped by the usual cockiness of the person on the right end of the injustice scale, and garnished with a serving of being on the losing end, all add to the unhappy concoction of feelings of anger.
But here’s an area where anger can be a positive reaction. It primes our bodies for action and gives us additional motivation to complete the task in the most efficient manner possible. It galvanises us into taking quick action and lends us strength to stand firm on our principles and beliefs.
Maybe it’s what we get angry about that is the important thing. I read a quote somewhere that has impacted my life and me;
“A man is about as big as the things that makes him angry”.
Keeping those words close to my heart and mind has helped to control my feelings. After all, you can’t be very big if you let a small thing drive you into a fit of rage can you?
The next time you get angry, take a moment and consider what you’re angry about and whether it is worth it to even feel that way.
Kick a stone in anger and you’ll hurt your foot ~ Korean proverb.
“Holding on to anger is like grasping a hot coal with the intent of throwing it at someone else; you are the one who gets burned.” ~ Buddha
This article was first published on RainTiger.com in 2007 and was part of a monthly series of motivational writings that were loosely titled, ‘Forward ever’. I’m forever grateful for that opportunity to have my work in print, even if it was ‘only’ in the online space. I remember the original motivation of this article was to have a deep look at some mistaken beliefs we often have of ourselves. I hope I succeeded though at the end of the day, that’s for you, the reader, to judge for yourself.
- In The Talking Time Anger is Like a Firing Box in The Head (socyberty.com)
- Angry Young Men (time.com)
- Churchin’ It (fashiondujourdaily.wordpress.com)
- Are you quick to anger? (pastormikesays.wordpress.com)