Anger is a mighty powerful thing. It can threaten personal well-being and serve as a destructive and retaliatory force.
New brain research tells us the triggers are often rooted in our unconscious…by-products from our childhood. Research also tells us it doesn’t have to stay this way. We can actually retrain our brains to identify the triggers and slow our learned reactions. This is critical since anger continuously increases in its strength…becomes a pattern of behavior…each time we place blame or feel victimized by a presumed insult. It is a seductive and costly abuser.
So how might we find clarity when our learned response is to simply react?
We give ourselves permission to create space. We find quiet. We distance ourselves from the emotion. It is in this space we uncover what the real thought is behind our rage and reframe it. Insult becomes empathy for unnamed fear. Abuse of power drives compassionate action.
I love the Cherokee story about the wolf you feed.
A boy tells his grandfather about his anger at a friend who had done him an injustice. His grandfather replies: “Let me tell you a story. I, too, at times have felt great hate for those who have taken so much with no sorrow for what they do. But hate wears you down and does not hurt your enemy. It’s like taking poison and wishing your enemy would die. I have struggled with these feelings many times.
My son, the battle is between two wolves inside us all. One wolf brings happiness. It is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion, and faith. But the other wolf…ah! The littlest thing will send him into a fit of temper. He fights everyone, all the time, for no reason. He cannot think because his anger and hate are so great. Sometimes it is hard to live with these two wolves inside me, for both of them try to dominate my spirit.”
The boy looked intently into is grandfather’s eyes and asked, “Which one wins, Grandfather?” The grandfather smiled and quietly said, “The one I feed.”
We reframe anger when we feed love, hope and happiness with what is already within us and when we act from a place of authenticity – a place apart from risk, fear, anger, and the hate it breeds.
“When things are at their worst, we have the chance to be at our best.”