|Words and photo by F LoBuono|
And, therein, lies the weakness in what can also be so powerful; we cannot ultimately achieve whatever it is that we so desperately desire. We have only the temporary satisfaction of the singular moment that is the flash of anger. It is ephemeral; a short-term fix. Yes, it may be satisfying, but the fleeting nature of the feeling is its greatest flaw. It is to the soul what fast food is to the body: When we are hungry our priority is to satisfy that hunger, often by any means available. And, fast food is exactly that - fast and cheap. At that moment of hunger, it does the job. We may be satiated for the time being but there is no lasting value to the meal. In fact, in the long run, it may even lead to many diseases. Anger has the same effect on our inner lives - it may feel good at that moment but the lasting effect is far less benign.
And, man, I deal with a lot of anger - stupid, mindless, vitriolic fury. Bilious, bellicose, and brash, my rage knows no logic or reason. It is usually unfocused and exists only to satisfy its own sense of righteousness. If a light turns red when I think that it should be green, it will be the subject of a string of expletives that would make a longshoreman blush. Stupid drivers should stay the fuck out of my way! Inanimate objects that do not function as advertised are subject to destruction. Inefficiency will not be tolerated. There is no gravity - everything simply sucks. People are idiots. And, so-on and so-forth. It all just makes me ANGRY and I lash out. Like cheap sex, there is no real goal except temporary satisfaction.
So, I find myself (too often) with all this unfocused anger. In a way, it is my nature. I am easy-going in some ways and the polar opposite in others. I am aware of that intensity and make a conscious effort to "control" it. That's a start. But, like the emotion of anger itself, the so-called cures often provide only temporary relief. We cannot drink or drug anger away. Prayer (for those who do pray) can only do so much. Meditation can be effective -if I can stop being angry long enough to concentrate! And, therapy gets expensive. I suppose that a combination of these methods would be effective but I need something that is more accessible and practical.
I'm working on them. Here are some of my methods:
First, acknowledge your anger. No matter how insignificant the source of it may be, it is REAL to you. It is usually a manifestation of a deeper emotion, anyway. To be HUMAN is to experience anger. Deal with it. Emote. Yell at the stupid traffic light - it's an inanimate object! But, avoid focusing your rage on living, feeling beings. Also, understand that venting your anger so vocally can be difficult for others to witness. Help them understand that its one way that you deal with your emotions. Do physical things like taking a brisk walk to burn excess energy that can also be a source of unfocused anger. Be aware of your breathing. Slowing your breathing can make your more aware of your thoughts and actions in a more controlled way. You can get a "handle" on your feelings. And, perhaps, most importantly, extend yourself. Make the commitment that for every angry moment you experience and express, you will perform an extra act of kindness. It can be as simple as going out of your way to say "hi" to a stranger or smiling for no reason at the security guard at your building. Letting someone merge in front of you on the highway is a great way to counter road rage. Give an encouraging word to someone who may be struggling. These things are SO simple to do. And, best of all, they are effective.
Remember, we may say to ourselves: "who cares if I walk around angry? It's personal. I really don't harm anyone with it". But, this is not entirely accurate. All of us have an energy many call the aura, that contributes to the functioning of the world at large. That's why we say no man is an island. We are all part of this huge community known as MANKIND. And, there IS a collective energy. Like a giant blender what we put in is what we will take out. So, if we are constantly contributing the ultimately negative energy that is anger, the world IS a lesser place. If we counter that negative energy with those that are more positive like that which is created through patience, kindness, and understand, the world responds in kind.
Some will balk at such esoteric concepts. Let them.
Cynicism is the powerfully ally of Anger. The doubt it creates in the spirit is just another unwanted anchor, dragging us further and further down. In a sense, it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy - you wanted the world to suck, now it does. Cynicism, as it relates to anger, is creeping, insidious, and, dangerous. We must not allow it to dominate our thoughts. If we can hang on to the belief that there is a greater good in the world, perhaps then, our anger can be moved aside.
I'm not sure of the answers. And, I certainly don't want to be consumed by the search for them. But, I do want to live a righteous life. I want to be comfortable in my skin while at the same time always looking to improve - to be more aware, kind, compassionate, and wise. In the meantime, I will continue to deal with this friggin' anger. I suppose that I always will - it's part of being comfortable with who I am. I'm a pretty intense guy. But, I'm also one that can learn to leave the anger behind - well, at least most of it.