What Makes You Angry!
By The Creator of the EMONZ, Buddhist Chaplain and Artist, Pema.
What gets your goat? What makes your blood boil? People who suddenly stop in front of you on a busy pavement? People who only want to drive in the fast lane despite the slower lanes being empty? People who never replace the empty loo roll? Leave the lid off the toothpaste? When we think about it, there is a lot of stuff we can get angry about. People, politicians, the weather, late deliveries...the list goes on.
It's useful to remember that anger is just trying to protect our happiness, or the happiness of those we love. Its aim isn't really to ruin our day. So, any judgement about getting angry really isn't needed and certainly doesn’t help the situation. And I suspect, getting angry about being angry might make things worse.
Anger is just trying to protect our happiness, or the happiness of those we love.
So, what's wrong with being angry then? Well, nothing really. Anger is actually great at telling us there is a problem, and sometimes we need a bit of rocket fuel in the tank. But getting angry is not that enjoyable. “I’ve had a great day being frustrated and furious,” said nobody ever! Knowing that anger isn't much fun doesn't seem to stop us flipping our lid on occasions. And there is real trouble a foot when anger believes it’s the solution, Anger - great for telling us there is a problem, but let's be real, pretty rubbish at solving one. I remember being so angry once, that I slammed a kitchen cupboard door shut so hard, that it just bounced back open and hit me in the face! Yeah, I know, hilarious. But not at the time! At the time I wanted to rip that cupboard clean off the wall! Left unchecked anger can be super destructive. And it's not only cupboard doors that we break in a temper. What about relationships, self-respect or the trust others have in us? The list of possible breakages goes on and on.
Anger - great for telling us there is a problem, but let's be real, pretty rubbish at solving one.
Does anger do a good job of protecting our happiness? Probably not. The truth is that anger actually destroys the very happiness it's trying to protect. What relaxation and peace is there in anger? So, what to do about anger? Judging it is pointless. Letting it run riot is often painful. What about a nice bit of suppression and trying to ignore it? Well, that doesn’t make it or the original problem go away in my experience. And anger held over a long time can become resentment. Feeling resentful isn’t much fun either.
The truth is that anger actually destroys the very happiness it's trying to protect.
What to do about anger then? I am sure there are lots of things you can do, but one of the most effective things I have found, is to work on my desires. Asking myself the question - 'What do I believe needs to happen in order for me to be happy?' has been a game changer. If I have a very narrow, fixed view of what I believe needs to happen, in order for me to be happy, then I can get angry a lot, For example, say I only want a black jumper and no other colour jumper will do, Then a shop ONLY stocking red, white, orange, pink, blue, yellow, green, sage, buff, charcoal, aqua, plum, bluebell, olive, kaki, crimson (draws breath) and chocolate brown jumpers, just ain't gonna cut it and is probably really gonna annoy me! Ok you might not be angry about a jumper, but I am sure you get my point. Looking at my list of WANTS and seeing where I can be more flexible is a good start. Can I find ways to expand my 'ok's', 'acceptable's' and 'just fine's'? Can I loosen up my must-haves? In short, the more we learn how to be flexible in our outlook, the less likely we are to get triggered into anger.
If I have a very narrow fixed view of what needs to happen in order for me to be happy, then I can get angry a lot.
It’s important to be clear that I am talking about WANTS not NEEDS. Needs require clear boundaries, and compromise may not be appropriate. Like the need to be physically safe. It's a non-negotiable in my world. And let's not forget, I am not working on my anger to become a doormat. After all, 'NO' is a complete sentence which I can say without the need to feel angry. I am however, actively choosing to expand my fixed and rigid list of WANTS, because that way I can protect my own peace of mind and happiness. When we start exploring this idea, we quickly start to see what's really important, what's just a nice to have, and what we really can let go of. And without realising, bit by bit, my happiness has become less and less dependent on something which is totally out of my control,
If you liked this blog, you will love our illustrated children's book, Addison The Really Smashing Monster. Addison’s story shows how the way we look at things is the real key to happiness.