If you put a lid on a pot of boiling water, the water rises to the top, spills all over and makes a mess.
Is that what happens with anger? Water kettles have valves for steam to be released, slowly, in a controlled fashion. Is that what it means when they say, I must vent or I will blow my top?
Anger is an emotion related to one’s own interpretation of having been wronged or offended. It is often the result of frustrated expectations. Retaliation or revenge is the consuming urge that rises to undo these offenses.
We live stressful lives, most of us. And when there is no balance brought in, at the least provocation, we “lose it.”
Research shows that some types of food can cause fits of aggression and anger. Food coloring, especially red; glutens and wheat, sugar and caffeine are held suspect by anger experts. Tomatoes and spicy food are also on their list.
Anger management is a remedy offered for these stressful times. It is a system of psychological exercises and techniques by which someone with uncontrollable anger can be taught to identify and reduce the triggers and intensity of an aggressive emotional condition.
We have seen incidents of road rage. The impatience of motorists cannot be blamed solely on the erratic economy. In some countries, anger management is ordered by the legal system.
It seems that some people we know are in urgent need of immediate attention.
Recent high-profile events have been avidly followed on the social networks. They have made front-page headlines, over and above the price of gas, which in the US a few days ago slipped down a bit; and the impeachment trial which probably has become old hat.
What does one do “in a fit of anger?” Some people flare up and immediately cool down. Others turn close to rabid in spite of cooler heads intervening. What is the typical behavior of an angry person? Most of the time the mouth spews forth words that, as the Bible teaches, come “from the abundance of the heart.”
If the heart is full of bitterness and hateful emotions, the words that fly out will be bleeped on television and look like this #@$&! in print. Like they say, “anger is a condition in which the tongue is faster than the mind.”
The Naia episode has been discussed ad nauseam and we shall leave that to the protagonists and courts to deal with. But truly, wasn’t that a textbook case of anger out of control?
You may have a right to be angry. But this does not give anyone the right to be cruel.
To quote Benjamin Franklin: “Whatever is begun in anger ends in shame.”
When we have been involved in a hurtful situation or an altercation of any kind, we tend to memorize every word, every blow. We want to stay angry. Why can’t we just let it go? Some say it makes them feel less vulnerable. Does anger help in any way to drive home a point, whatever that may be? I don’t think so. Does it give a mistaken sense of power? Perhaps.
Last week, while thunderstorms and high winds hit West Palm Beach, I read Francine Rivers’ latest novel, “Her Daughter’s Dream” (a Mother’s Day present from my daughter).
It is the romantic saga involving four generations of women, from the early 1950s through the turbulent ’60s and on to the 2000s. It tells of unspoken sorrow, of unresolved anger that tears a family apart, of forgiveness and unconditional love.
Interwoven in the story are handwritten letters from Marta, a German immigrant, to her best friend. She speaks about her daughter Hildemara Rose, a nurse, who is painfully uncertain of her mother’s love. Hilde’s daughter Carolyn feels rejected in turn by her own mother, and lives with the secret of being sexually abused as a child by a neighbor, terrified by the threat of his return and reprisal and her mother’s scorn.
There are issues of jealousy, old resentments that need to be resolved, and hurts that will never heal unless faced squarely and dealt with. Finally May Flower Dawn, a child conceived by Carolyn in Golden Gate Park during the days of the flower children, decides it is time and her mission to change the situation.
How many of us still nurse wounds from a time long gone? What are the secrets we hide that are feeding on the insides of our souls? How much longer will they fester in the shattered corners of our hearts?
New and clean
I remember as a little girl how after one of us had been sick, my aunt made sahumerio by burning dried orange rinds in a censer. She opened all the windows while she poked every nook and corner of every room, under the furniture and behind the curtains with the heady aromatic smoke.
When she was done, everything smelled new and clean.
Is it time for “spring cleaning” in your life?
Why do we allow the diseased parts of our life to stink up our attitude and our disposition? Why not bring the sweet-smelling aroma of forgiveness back into our lives?
It is not easy to forgive. It is easier to bear a grudge. It keeps us on guard. One would rather harbor the offense and plan revenge. But they do say that the best revenge is forgiveness; that whoever seeks revenge should dig two graves.
Maya Angelou says this: “We cannot change the past. But we can change our attitude toward it. Uproot guilt and plant forgiveness. Tear out arrogance and seed humility. Exchange love for hate, thereby making the present comfortable and the future promising.”
Let us not build more walls than the world has already set up separating people, destroying families. We have become indifferent to the sight of man pitted one against the other.
I dare you to be an agent of change. Everyone is welcome. There are no age requirements, no limits. Together let us mend fences. Let us not bring more anger to an already angry world.
Bring peace. Do not be content with just looking at your fellowman from a distance. Do not be a wall between brothers. For God’s sake, be a bridge.