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Friday, August 5, 2011

Mastering Anger: A Shotgun in A Room of Chandeliers

Anger is like fire in a paper mill, it can consume you so quickly that you don't even realize what is happening until you are a pile of ash. People battle anger daily and a lot of times they lose. Even though in the moment it feels like a boiling cauldron whose overflow cannot be denied there are ways to master your anger. Some say you should count to ten, some say to hit a pillow but these methods don't seem to be as effective as some might hope. I like the analogy of the angel and the devil on either shoulder. We all have one of each and we all decide which one to listen to. It is a constant struggle because what is good in us sometimes sounds like a whisper compared to the incessant screaming of our more negative sides. When anger wins out over patience we can hear that voice in our head saying, "what am I doing?" That voice is what I call your true self. It is who you are at the core and who you fight to protect everyday from what is damaging and negative in the world.

Anger is one of the ninjas we employ to battle for us when our better half feels unable to meet the challenge. Most of us try patience first. We try to reason and communicate. That is our true self trying be a problem solver. When it doesn't work we call in the artillery. Our anger is a coping mechanism and it can be very effective at conveying our ideas. People listen when you are angry and screaming, just not for the right reasons. Picture a room with a really high ceiling, full of hanging chandeliers. Above one of the chandeliers there is a light switch on the ceiling. This light switch when turned on fills the room with the most beautiful feeling of peace. We want to turn on the switch because we want to feel the peace it will bring but the ceiling is too high. We try to use a ladder but the switch is still just beyond our reach. We begin to try other methods but every time we are close to touching it, the chandeliers are too thick and our fingers can't fit through the spaces between them. So we run out of options, or so it seems and we go and get a gun. That gun is our anger. We begin to shoot the chandeliers until none remain. All we want is to flip that switch and fill the room with peace and we are willing to do anything to make sure it happens. Once we have destroyed everything in our way we climb up and try to find the switch but then we realize that we have destroyed all of the lights and the room is dark. Now we can't see the switch and we are stuck in a dark room covered with broken glass. In the aftermath of an angry outburst we find ourselves even farther away from our goal of peace and walking around in the dark, cutting our feet on the broken glass of our hateful words. That is what anger does, it destroys. Anger has one goal and it is blind to all else but that one goal. Anger wants only to be heard. It doesn't care about the feelings of others. It doesn't care about property or image or even someone else's safety.

If you think of your anger as a seperate entity it will help you fight against it. After all, at the close of a rampage you feel just as bad as whoever was at the recieving end of you rage. This is because the things that were said and done weren't said and done by you but by your anger. You, too, are at fault of course for affording it the power to act.  You have seen what anger can do and even knowing this you still let it hold the gun and pull the trigger so you feel guilt and remorse. You see, once you allow it to be in control you become an observer, chained in a corner and helpless. You have quit and given your hands and your mouth away to be used in ugly ways. It is true once you have given anger the power to act it is hard to stop it. But what you must remember is that anger needs your consent. When you feel your anger beginning to rear it's head think of it as a possession. You are being taken over. You are giving the controls away to a thing who does not have your best interest in mind. You must say to yourself, "I am in charge of me." You have to fight to keep your hands on the steering wheel, don't relinquish your power. You have to make the choice to be the driver. If you allow anger to drive, you are the one who suffers the injuries of an imminent collision. You are the one left to clean up the mess. You have to learn to admit that you are losing control. You need to learn to visualize your hands slipping from the wheel and you need to learn to maintain your grip. If for you that means walking away or asking for time to think then that is what you do. In any case you must make a choice to never allow anger to use your mouth or your hands. Take back your power. Clutch that steering wheel as tightly as you can and never let it go.

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