To be angry, is to revenge the faults of others upon ourselves. – Alexander Pope
I ran across the Alexander Pope quotation above this morning, and it made me think. I used to have rather a bit of a temper, and I still have some left. But I’ve noticed that shouting “Move it, you [redacted]” at the car in front of me does not make traffic move more swiftly.
I haven’t found it productive to express myself angrily no matter what frustration I may be feeling. The other person involved may conclude that I’m crazy, may become fearful, may have any number of reactions, but rarely if ever is their reaction the one I want. In fact, at that moment (other than in traffic) I’m not even sure what I do want.
Jerry Weinberg counsels us to be “congruent”, that is to have what we do and say be consistent with how we feel. We say how we feel, we use our body consistently with our feeling, and so on. I’ve never entirely grasped that, with an intense feeling like anger, because it seems to me unlikely to work. If I’m angry, I want to kill stuff, and I feel that could lead to undesirable consequences.
So I try to calm down, to put down the anger. I’m not holding it in, I’m letting go of it. It doesn’t stay in me: it dissipates, evaporates, goes away.
I try to get rid of the anger because when I’m not in anger, I can make better decisions, and say things that are more productive. I simply function better when I’m not angry. Functioning better, I’m more likely to get what I want.