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December 13, 2017

11/15/2017 4:22:00 PM
Room for a View: Anger
By Charles Wilkinson

Anger is a part of life. It can range from all-encompassing rage to a simple chronic pinch from an unresolved resentment or ugly memory.

Anger tests anyone it involves, usually exacting a high price from those on both ends of it. But like most negative behaviors, it can also have positive effects.

When I feel angry, I know I am not at peace with who I am and I do not like the feeling. Anger takes me away from how I want to be. It most always complicates life and  relationships, is never an answer in itself but just a very real roadblock to acceptance and understanding.

Yet anger is an inevitable part of being human. Everything does not always go one’s way. 

People misjudge or use and  take advantage of others or come up short of one’s expectations.

That is why, when I get angry, I want my anger to teach me patience, tolerance and, especially, the importance of another’s forgiveness: patience enough to process the feeling, tolerance of the humanness in all of us, and how forgiving helps and heals.   

I do not seek out anger. When it finds me, I have learned, it can either diminish me or help me grow. When I give in to its power, I  lose control of how I want to be. But if I can work to discover what it is about, I can learn from it. Flare-ups usually flare down. Getting past the blast of rage or the pain of the pinch is the challenge. It is the hardest part of dealing with anger. Finding the right words and the courage to speak them is usually better than grabbing at and using the wrong weapons.

When my son was 9 or 10, I lost my temper over something he had done. I lashed out, cursed, and called him a name I still regret. He ran to his room, crying. When I finally calmed down enough to ask myself, “What just happened?” it took more than a few minutes for me to realize

I had dumped the garbage of a bad day all over him. I went to his room, sat on the edge of his bed, apologized, and hugged him.

“I am what I called you,” I said, and made sure I repeated that the next morning. I learned much about anger that evening.

Days later, or maybe months, I thought perhaps that is what anger is all about, teaching self-control and how to tame our humanness. Still, there has to be a better, less painful way to come to know that.

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