There is a Chinese proverb (or so I have been told) that states:
“The fire you kindle for your enemy often burns you more than it burns him.”
I found another quote years ago, from an unknown source (if anyone knows the source, please let me know and I will cite the source.)
“If you get angry and lose control, the other guy wins. “
Both would imply that anger is negative. Many people think it is.
Why do we think that?. According to my American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, the word anger means “a feeling of extreme displeasure, hostility, indignation or exasperation toward someone or something”.
Note that definition: a feeling.
Since when have feelings been a problem? Something in the back of my mind indicates that feelings are one of the things that indicates we are alive. (You may not want to be alive; you may not want to feel, but that is not the issue here.)
Now, what we DO with those feelings might be a problem, but the feelings aren’t. That is a major distinction. It is a very, very, very important distinction.
Our feelings aren’t problems. I repeat: What we do about them may be.
If a stranger hurts a child, most of us expect the parent(s) to feel anger and to do something about the situation. If we are driving and someone else gets us angry, generally, it is not appropriate to do something about that particular anger. Most of us recognize there is a distinction in these two instances, but, somehow, we don’t seem to recognize that fact when these feelings enter our own lives.
Part of the problem is that we were once children. As children, we did things that Ã¢Â?Â¦ well Ã¢Â?Â¦ didn’t make our families, or other people, overjoyed. People got angry with us and we learned that our behavior wasn’t acceptable. As we grew, we kept the idea that when people got angry with us, WE did something wrong. Part of us knows that doesn’t make sense. We tell that to our friends. We tell that to our children. We don’t think about the fact that many of us don’t tell that to ourselves.
Look at the definition again: a feeling toward something. Something got us to react. We reacted to something. That something was a stimuli. It created a series of electrical impulses along our nervous system that, in turn, caused the release of neurotransmitters and endorphins, which, in turn activated other electrical impulses. Our limbic system got involved andÃ¢Â?Â¦..
In other words, believe me when I say that in many cases, we can’t prevent the fact that we feel. It happens.
What is in our control is what we do about those feelings. We can get upset about an activity or behavior and decide to do something to change that activity or behavior, or we can get upset and let that something continue to annoy us. We can learn other ways to respond. We can continue to respond in the same way – and then wonder why certain things in life keep happening to us over and over and over again. Those behaviors repeat themselves because we never get angry enough to do something about whatever made us angry.
A simple example would be our weight. Weight makes a lot of people unhappy. Most people get so unhappy, they eat – and compound the problem. Some people get angry enough that they decide to make a change.
Think about it. How often does anyone change – – unless that person got upset, got angry, about something?
Think about yourself. Think about the changes you have made in your life. I would be willing to bet that most of those changes happened because you got upset, you got angry, about something. That something might have been relatively minor in your eyes, but you made changes.
I can hear one or two of you say “Ok, fine, but why am I angry at so and so?”
We get angry at things that annoy us. The problem, ladies and gentlemen, is that we can’t control what will irritate other people.
Let me qualify that. We tend to know exactly how to get some of our loved ones angry. We can push their buttons all the time, if we wanted. What we don’t know is when that person will react in anger and DO something about our behavior. We can’t control when the other person will finally say “Enough” and make a change.
Because of that little detail, we can’t force others to change. They have to want to change. We can’t force them. We see what we think needs to be done, but we can’t get others to see the same things. We get angry, or so we say, at those people for not seeing what we see.
Or so we say.
Are we really angry at them, or are we angry at ourselves, because we feel that we should be able to make those other people change – and they aren’t changing? Does that mean we think we have failed?
We have come full circle. We are letting other people’s reactions determine how we behave. If someone does not behave as we want, we feel as if we did something wrong.
Do you begin to see the cycle?
A change means a decision.
It won’t be easy, but is feeling the way you felt any better?