Yesterday was Martin Luther King Jr. Day and I came across this quote as I searched for a meaningful remembrance to share. Over the past several years I have learned the power of love and compassion and the ways in which these positive emotions can truly overcome unpleasant emotions, especially anger. A few years ago, I realized there was an overwhelming amount of anger in my life. I also realized that my anger was really debilitating. This quote reminded me of a similar quote that spoke to me during this time that encouraged my to choose love, choose lightness and to let go. Why? Because anger only truly hurts you.
“Holding onto anger is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die.” Gautama Buddha
Yes, I realize that letting go of anger is far easier in concept that it is in reality. But, with practice you can at least learn that your anger does not have to be as consuming as it once was.
Anger. It happens to all of us and there is not way to prevent it. While we cannot and should not try to avoid anger we can learn to deal with this emotion in a more positive way.
First, it is important to reflect so that we can pinpoint what we are feeling. I used to think I was sad and then I realized that I was actually angry. My anger often created some sadness but the point is, I was trying to cope with the wrong emotion.
Once you recognize you are angry you can figure out what (or who…) is causing that emotion. This is also a great time to recognize that anger is in a way self-defense. The root of our anger could be an underlying fear? It almost always feels like an attack on our ego.
When we are angry, our ego-centric reaction is to act on it. To defend ourselves. To express our anger. To yell at the person that is making us angry. Sadly, all this does is feed all of those toxic emotions. It fuels the fire!
Instead, choose to be mindful of your reaction. Take a minute to pause…breathe… and to consider a response that will be the most useful. Acting out in anger simply strengthens the anger. Acting out of love, understanding and compassion–for yourself and the other person–actually weakens the emotion. Love, understanding and compassion create peace.