Anger always feels right. When we are angry it always seems justified. Someone has hurt us or circumstances have defeated us, and it feels good to lash out at the other person, at our fate, at ourselves, the weather, God and whoever else happens to be nearby. And the more we practice getting angry the easier it is to become angry. Anger can be addictive, and always seems justified. But we don’t need to practice getting angry.
Anger also blinds us. When we are angry we see only how our own world has been attacked. We can’t see how others may be impacted, or how our angry behavior may frighten others; and for the most part at these times we are not interested in other’s suffering. Anger shrinks our world down to only our own, very limited perspective. It creates mental tunnel vision.
Anger has a value. When I get angry at someone who has been told many times not to do something, but who chooses to do it anyway, my anger serves to let the person know, “Hey, I mean this!” However, within this anger must be an undeniable sense that I care for the person. I’m angry not at them, but at the danger they put themselves in, at the warning they ignored. And the secret here is that once the person acknowledges this, my anger must cease. Being angry at someone just to show off or because it feels “right” is inappropriate and unfair. So know when to be angry, and when to stop.
It’s important to observe what you say to yourself after you have been angry. Do you justify your action, claiming that it was the right thing to do, that the person who hurt you needed to hear what you said, that they had it coming? Or do you honestly admit that perhaps you were out of line, that a different response would have been more useful and helpful, or that walking away and addressing the issue at another time may have been a more mature response.
If used wisely anger can teach us what we care about, and where we need to be careful of overreacting to life’s injustices; but left unchecked its fire will scar both you and those you seek to correct. Use anger wisely, or it will use you.