The Truth About Anger
Author, Andrea Picarelli
The Truth About Anger
I used to be very quick to get angry. I would not say I needed anger management but when I felt I was disrespected or done wrong in some way I would get angry and stay angry. I would re-live the incident that caused me anger over and over again. My anger would increase and intensify as I re-lived the incident.
I used to be proud of my anger. I was taught that my Italian temper was something to be proud of because it was a sign of my strength. I was taught that anger equaled power. My Italian Father taught me that forgiveness is a sign of weakness and that we should punish people for what they did to us by being angry, holding grudges, and retaliation.
Now that I am older I am pleased to report that I am much wiser. My anger has taught me a great deal. Anger is a thief as it steals your happiness, joy, and good health. As long as you are angry you cannot be truly happy and experience joy. Anger weighs you down and keeps you down. It can cause loneliness and depression. For every moment you are angry you are missing out on the many joys of life.
I used to think that when I was angry at someone that I was standing up for myself and teaching them a lesson. It was all an illusion. Perhaps I was standing up for myself, but what was I gaining? Was the other person really learning a lesson as a result of my anger? Who was suffering? How was I benefitting? The truth is that you do not gain any respect by being angry because anger causes you to lose control and react badly. Anger clouds your judgement so the decisions you make are not in anyone’s best interest.
The truth is that you do not benefit from your anger because anger is not good for your health. I know this all too well because while I spent years angry and holding onto grudges my health deteriorated. I had to learn this lesson the hard way. “When you get angry, your heart rate, arterial tension and testosterone production increases, cortisol (the stress hormone) decreases, and the left hemisphere of your brain becomes more stimulated.” –Dr. Mercola
As long as I held on to my anger I was the one that was suffering. Anger was stealing my happiness. As a result, my life was filled with misery and illness. I was always sick with headaches, digestive problems, liver issues, and much more. “Anger can lead to myriad problems that affect all aspects of our lives: heart attacks, strokes, sleep disturbances, mood issues, and anxiety (maybe even legal problems), just to name a few.”- Dr. Oz
I noticed that the longer I was angry the weaker I got. I was so emotionally drained. I was so exhausted getting out of bed was a challenge. Many nights I would toss and turn with anger instead of sleeping. “Holding onto anger is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die.”-Buddha
I have also learned a great deal about anger from my Father. His anger has cost him a great deal in life. Anger does not accomplish anything because it just divides people. The ego gets in the way and judgement is clouded and as a result we cannot compromise or come up with a favorable solution. When we hang on to anger and hold grudges it can permanently damage a relationship. You may think you are teaching the other person a lesson but when you end up all alone and wonder why then you have to ask yourself, “is it worth it?” Who is really suffering from your anger? “Holding on to anger is like grasping a hot coal with the intent of harming another; you end up getting burned.”-Buddha
In addition to this, I know two sisters who were practically inseparable. They were very loving and supportive of each other. They would exercise together, do lunch, talk on the phone daily, plan and attend family gatherings together. They had a disagreement and as a result of one of the sisters’ anger they no longer speak and have not in years.
As a result of her anger and grudge holding they no longer create happy memories together. The angry sister is missing out on the family gatherings. The other sister does not even know why the other is angry with her. As a result, nothing is being accomplished by the anger and holding on to that grudge.
What we can take away from this is that the one who is actually being punished is the Sister who is angry because she is the one re-living the incident that caused the anger originally while the other has no idea what she has done wrong. In reality, she is punishing herself because she no longer enjoys the family gatherings, lunches with her sister, and other precious moments with family. She is missing out on happiness and joy. She remains stuck in the past while the other has moved on and continues to enjoy her life. “Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.”- Ephesians 4:31-32
Anger can be blinding. When we allow anger to take over all we can see is rage and darkness. When we hold onto anger we only bring about more to be angry about. We get stuck and cannot move forward. Until we learn from our suffering we will continue to suffer from our anger.
Anger can lead to divorce. Many couples today keep score, hold grudges, and remain angry about past hurts and this leads to arguments and hostility. They re-live hurtful incidents over and over again. As a result, the marriage becomes toxic and dissolves due to the unresolved anger.
Anger can be lethal. I used to know two brothers. One would frequently get jealous and angry with the other. They often had physical confrontations. One evening a physical altercation between these two brothers spiraled out of control and led to the death of one of the brothers while the other brother went to prison for the murder. “For the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God.”-James 1:20
I have learned a great deal about anger through my own experiences and observing others over the years. As a result of what I have learned I now know that anger is never the answer. I am not saying one should bottle up their anger because this is not healthy either.
I have learned to accept my anger, feel it, and get over it. I channel my anger in positive direction and release it through healthy means. I practice meditation, pray, workout, and journal about my feelings. I try to learn from the incident that made me angry. Meditation and prayer have been the most beneficial for me. Since I have been meditating daily I am much slower to anger. My life is much more peaceful and happier as a result.
Anger comes from the ego. Our anger is a result of our ego trying to protect us. We naturally want people to view us as strong and powerful. The ego says “Do not mess with me!” Many of us are taught that to be passive is to be weak and vulnerable. “The part of the ego that anger protects is a combination of how we want to regard ourselves and how we want others to regard us.”-Steven Stosny Ph.D.
Knowing that anger comes from the ego helps me to better evaluate situations that cause me anger for rationality. Sometimes we as humans get angry about things that do not really matter. Understanding the connection between the ego and anger helps me to not sweat the small stuff and shift my focus onto things that really do matter.
The bottom line is that while anger is a natural emotion that comes from the ego we should never allow our anger to control us. Too much anger is not at all healthy. Out of control anger costs us good health, happiness, joy, family, and friends. The price of anger is suffering, misery, loss, and poor health. Our out of control ego and anger is not worth the price. Let go of your ego's need to be right. “When you're in the middle of an argument, ask yourself: Do I want to be right or be happy? When you choose the joyous, loving, spiritual mode, your connection to intention is strengthened.” - Dr. Wayne Dyer
I choose to be happy!