Actions driven solely by anger are of no use at all; realizing this can help strengthen your determination to resist it. – Dalai Lama
What does that mean?
Does anger really accomplish anything? Some might say that it is useful for motivation, but there are few other things of which I can think that it can do for a person. Take a moment and consider if passion, not anger is truly the motivator, and that anger is simply an emotional outlet, contributing nothing significant to the result?
The quote says that blind anger, the use of anger with no tempering emotions or attitudes, is of no use at all. I agree, and would caution that anger, used blindly, puts whatever action it has spurred you to try in grave jeopardy. When you realize the futility of anger as the sole driving force behind action, it becomes much easier to set it aside and use other emotions to move you to action.
Why is avoiding blind anger important?
Have you ever seen some one in a state of blind anger? Some call it a ‘red rage’ or use other, less pleasant, descriptions? How well do they react to any actions taken by others? I have noticed that they tend to be easily distracted by others, and have used that tactic to help defuse violent confrontations.
Have you ever been in a state of blind anger, or talked to someone after they ‘climbed down’ from such a state? How clearly were they thinking? How well were you (or they) able to adapt to changing circumstances? How effective could a person be if they are unable to adapt to changing circumstances?
In just two examples, I hope I have shown how futile blind anger can be. You may have other examples as well. While the quote asks us to avoid anger as the sole motivation, I would argue that using anger as any part of your motivation is a disaster just waiting for a place to happen. With anger as part of the equation, at some point, it will surge to the front, and that is when things will go badly for you.
Where can I apply this in my life?
Some people have been sufficiently fortunate to have never been in a situation where anger was their overwhelming or only emotion. Most of the people I know were never that lucky. I would imagine most people have had a hot-headed moment at some point in their lives.
For those who have never acted in, or been consumed or driven by anger, you have my envy. I’m not sure the rest of this post will be of much use to you, other than to understand the struggles the rest of us go through, or help a friend when they are in a similar situation.
For the rest of us, I would say the first step in not succumbing to anger is to dismiss it. I have found the anger rests primarily in the hurt caused by a mean-spirited word, or the physical sting of a blow. While it isn’t easy to dismiss anger at this moment, this is the time, more than any other when we *must* dismiss anger, or our next move will be our undoing.
In my analysis of my anger, I have found that what it devolved to was this: I was allowing the person(s) to whom my anger was directed to live inside my head, rent free. They were the puppet masters, and I was the marionette, dancing when they pulled the strings. Those strings, they are all named anger. Cut the anger, and you cut the strings with which they try to manipulate you.
In the least personal arena, there are the trolls all over the internet. Most are immature yahoos who are simply throwing their excrement to amuse themselves and see other people react. When you realize this, you can quite easily dismiss your anger, and dismiss the trolls. Yes, the words might sting a little, but it goes away fairly quickly. And typically, so do the trolls, when you cease to dance to their string-pulling.
On one of the most personal level would be an insult based on race, religion, or ancestral heritage. While again, these are comments that sting, the person(s) who issue them are attempting to live in your head, and get you do react. They are no different than the bullies on the playground back in 3rd grade. I pity them, and move on. It doesn’t always prevent a fight, but you will have the moral and legal high ground.
That brings us to physical violence. Consider how well you think, how observant you are, how well you strategize, when you are angry. The last time I was in a fight, I didn’t even see the blow that felled me, as I was focused solely on my target, to the exclusion of his friends. Poor move on my part, eh?
I would attempt to dismiss anger at every turn. At first, you will have few successes. What do you expect, you’re a beginner, right? Keep focusing on your successes, and you will start getting more and more of them. Eventually, you will even be good at it.
While I am not completely free of the grip of anger, it no longer has me in an iron grip. I hope you can see how useless the emotion is, and begin to work on loosening it’s grasp on you. You can be angry, but don’t let it take control.