So I have read a great book by Brant Hansen called Unoffendable and I think it is a book everyone should read. It’s all about how life can get better by making one simple, extremely difficult change. Choosing to give up anger.
I have to admit that I cannot think of a single good thing I have done out of anger. In fact, my anger has caused me to destroy relationships, items, and moments instead of helping at all. Think of the words associated with anger. Burning, tornado, hurricane, red-hot, seething, roar, inflame, fume, see red, madden, chafe, and hostile just to name a few. Do any of those sound fun? They seem pretty destructive to me.
When I am angry I tend to stew and allow it to turn into bitterness and even hatred. It is not a pretty picture and it turns my relationships into battle fields where every comment and look is dissected and analyzed for hidden meanings. What’s the quickest way to isolate yourself and become miserable? Convince yourself that the whole world is against you. Anger just doesn’t do much good.
So how do you avoid becoming angry?
Well, shrink your ego. The smaller your ego, the less there is to offend. Give up your pride and become more humble. Don’t confuse humbleness with worthlessness, in Mere Christianity C.S. Lewis put it this way
“True humility is not thinking less of yourself; it is thinking of yourself less.”
The trick isn’t to think you are not worth anything, it is to not think of yourself as much. Don’t make everything so personal. Constructive criticism is not necessarily about making you look bad. It is not a judgement over you. The guy who cut you off in traffic probably doesn’t even know you exist. He is not intentionally making your morning commute more difficult. The customer service agent on the other side of the phone is not personally making sure your package doesn’t deliver on time. She has to work within the system that is in place and your anger does nothing to improve the situation.
Anger sees every slight as personal, every comment as directed, and every look as disrespectful. Anger suddenly turns people into Maleficent at Aurora’s christening. One missed invite and suddenly someone has to be punished. Bring on the spindles, walls of thorns, and dragons.
We see the silliness of it in movies but how similar are our own angry reactions? Ever punched through a wall out of anger? Ever smashed a vase out of anger? Ever screamed at someone else and ruined a relationship out of anger? Laurence J Peter said “Speak when you are angry – and you’ll make the best speech you’ll ever regret” and I think he was right.
So shrink your ego. Let go of your anger and learn to forgive the people who slight you. Don’t be a Maleficent.
– Rodney King