Anger hurts. More often than not, the one it hurts the most is the one who feels it rather than the one it is directed at. I would never argue that anger is not a reasonable reaction at times to other people’s statements or actions. However it seems to me that it is such an incredibly destructive emotion that I have for many, many years now tried very hard to banish it from my life.
There was a time when I was pretty much angry all of the time. If another driver cut me off in traffic I might become enraged and floor the accelerator, wanting to kill the other driver merely because they had cut in front of me. I will forever be grateful to my late huzband Joel who helped me to see how crazy and dangerous this behavior was and to let go of a great deal of the gratuitous anger I had long felt. These days I mostly drive in the slow lane, let anyone who wants to pass me pass me, and relax even when there is heavy traffic or other drivers behave poorly. And yet every now and then I still angry in traffic. Though the worst I’ve done in a long time was to flip the bird at another driver. While waiting patiently to be able to move again.
While I have come so far in letting go of my anger and do so much better driving these days, there are still things that just send me into a rage. I’m torn by being intensely interested in the politics of health care reform and civil rights, but reading an ill-informed opinion that is in opposition to my views still more often than not brings on the horrible feelings of rage. And a big part of me thinks that it is perfectly reasonable to be angry with people who are trying to deny me health care or civil rights. Yet I know that if I let myself get angry I will be the one who is hurt by my anger. I also know that anger can be productive to the extent that it motivates you to take rational actions to bring about change. And I pray that someday I may be able to read the newspaper without screaming that someone should be horse whipped into hell.