I recently witnessed a scene in a mall parking lot that has had a lasting effect on me – it was two middle-aged women arguing over a parking spot. They were both standing beside their cars and screaming at each other while waving their arms in a threatening manner. The argument eventually became a name-calling competition, with each trying to outdo the other. The sad thing was that the store wasn’t busy and there were plenty of empty spaces available. Their arguing became so heated that other shoppers began stopping to watch the spectacle. Meanwhile, the women’s children sat in their cars and witnessed the whole scene. How proud those kids must be!
The fact is that everybody gets angry. Whether it is at a family member, a co-worker or the stranger who took our parking spot, we all get angry. The problem with getting angry is that there is only a slim chance that it might solve the problem, but a much greater chance it’ll create new ones.
Anger is really us losing control and when we lose control bad things usually happen. At home it can mean a damaged relationship, in public it can mean a confrontation with a stranger, and at work it can mean getting fired or skipped over for promotion. Samaria Maxamus said, “Anger itself does more harm than the condition that caused it.” If you can’t remember that, try: Anger is only 1 letter away from danger!
Let’s be honest here, just like the two women in the parking lot, most of us can look and act pretty foolishly when we’re angry – usually saying and doing things we’ll later regret. Getting angry is a lot like being drunk, the intoxicated person is the only one who doesn’t realize he has a problem.
What makes anger so dangerous is that it can occur so quickly we’ve lost control before we even realize it. The only way to minimize the damage is to gain back control.
Before we can begin to diminish our anger we first have to understand what causes anger. There is really only one reason why we get angry and that is because someone didn’t act the way we wanted them to. Interesting, isn’t it? Anger is not an action, but how we respond to another’s action. Getting angry is letting someone else control you.
When was the last time something good came out of you getting angry? Benjamin Franklin said, “Whatever is begun in anger ends in shame.” The next time you find yourself getting angry, try and take a moment to ask yourself these questions: Is winning this argument really worth ruining the relationship? How important will this be a year from now? A month from now? A day or even an hour from now?
The moment you take back control you’ll lose the anger. Don’t let someone else control how you feel.
Who really suffers when you get anger? The Buddha said, “Holding on to anger is like holding on to a red-hot coal, you’re the only one who’s going to get burned.”
Why is it that when we hurt ourselves physically we learn not to do it again, but when we hurt ourselves emotionally we repeat the same action over and over? No one benefits from anger.
The best way to end an argument is to bite your tongue. That’s not admitting fault, it’s controlling the anger. Take back control. Besides, even if you win the argument, you still can’t enjoy the present if you’re angry about the past.