“Bitterness is like cancer. It eats upon the host. But anger is like fire. It burns it all clean.” ~ Maya Angelou
I do believe that anger has a purpose, but anger that doesn’t lead to action leads to bitterness instead, and that’s where the harm is. Bless you, Maya Angelou, for your wisdom, something I needed to read today.
Another thing we must learn in life is to determine what things justify anger and what things don’t. Someone getting my order wrong at a restaurant is an annoyance, for sure, but not worth anger. Rudeness is another annoyance, but not worth anger. So what’s the benchmark, then? My “test” is: will this matter tomorrow morning? If no, let it go. If yes, is there anything constructive I can do about it? If no, let it go. If yes, take action. Let the anger spur on the action, but never act from an angry place. We tend to lash out in anger, so calm down and think.
There are time, I admit, when anger raises its head when I’m not able to do anything constructive. Then I try my hardest to vent it out. Unfortunately my first response is to hit something (notice I did say “thing” and not “one”). Sometimes that’s just what I do: that’s what pillows are for. I’ve been threatening for years to get a punching bag, though I have had no place to put one. I’ve also been known to stamp my feet (outside) and sometimes just howl (again, not where folks can hear me). Sometimes I take a brisk walk or dance and sing very loudly (usually something angry and assertive from the 70s) and sometimes I just do a combination and pray like mad for help. I do all these things to prevent the bitterness from taking hold. Bitterness is one of those insidious emotions, too. It can feel so right, so justifiable. But it is a cancer. A corrosive. It will kill us.
And I share to let people know that I do understand anger. I do understand bitterness and its allure. Anger can be a refiner’s fire or a spur to action, but we have to remember that we need to control it. When it controls us, we’re in trouble.