Day 7: Anger

Think back to the last time you felt really angry. What was it that made you feel this way? Did someone act unjustly toward you? Did your embarrassment of having failed at something lead to anger? Did you try to disguise your sadness as anger?

If this anger you experienced was allowed to run its course, uncontrolled, it’s likely that you would have hurt someone, said something you’d later regret, or broken something. This is not uncommon, as any movie about a down-on-his-luck boxer climbing the ranks of the middle-weight division will demonstrate. The destructive response to anger has also been a noted phenomenon even as far back as ancient Greece. In his famous work De Ira the Stoic philosopher Seneca stated, “Anger, if not restrained, is often more harmful to us than the insult that provoked it.”

Some people may argue that anger can be a good reaction to certain situations. In high stress situations or competitions, isn’t ok to see red?

I would argue that it is not. Anger blinds us to the possibility of reasoning our way through a situation. The emotion can only lead us to one final destination: destruction. There is no bad situation that can’t be made worse by becoming angry.

This is not to say that that the initial reaction of anger can or should ever be completely snuffed out. It’s probably not even possible or at the very least extremely difficult to do. What I and many of the stoics would offer is that one should attempt to control and restrain the reactionary feelings of anger we all experience.

There are many ways to do this: meditation, mindfulness, breathing exercises, and many others that may work for a given person on an individual basis.

Whether you implement anger control methods on your own or seek counseling/therapy is up to you. But whatever you do, strive to regulate your anger. We only get to experience this life once (possibly). So don’t deprive yourself or others around you of a fulfilling existence by letting your anger run wild.

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