Anger is Stupid
Two interesting things happened to me this week.
The first, let’s call “Event X”, was that someone made me very, very angry. There’s no value in getting into the specifics, but I’ve wracked my brain & been unable to come up with a worse thing that anyone has ever done to me. There probably is, I just can’t remember it, so let’s put it in the top three.
The second, let’s call “Event Y”, was that I made someone else very, very angry. Again, little value in the specifics – except to say that it was very definitely not intentional on my part (but of course I’d say that! I’m the one telling this story!)
So, Event X. How did I react? Well, firstly, I don’t get angry very often. Not really angry. Maybe once every few years. I can distinctly remember the last time it happened, & that was February 2002. I get aggrieved, frustrated, annoyed, miffed.. but not real, cold anger. All these things are happening less & less these days (thankfully), but I’m still human.
To start with, I was in shock. Plain, simple shock that such a terrible thing could be done to me. I then transitioned into serious, hardcore anger. I had a very brief flirt with thoughts of revenge – for less than a second – but where’s the value? Then you just have two upset people. As Ghandhi put so eloquently put it “An eye for an eye leaves everyone blind.”
Then followed about 5 or 10 minutes of loud swearing (I was home alone), some surprise, disappointment, disbelief, & then, as I let more & more of it go, peace. And action, lots of action, to sort it all out.
pic by urline
So, not ideal, yet. But, over it in a day or so tops. Over the worst of it in about half an hour. For me, that’s a huge step forward. I’m happy with it. I’ll keep working on it. It will improve.
Ok, let’s leave that for the moment & move on to Event Y. Me making someone else angry.
I can’t explain how the other person felt, except that they were still bitter & spewing unrequested vitriol in my direction several hours later.
Here’s the funny thing though. This wasn’t even anyone I know. I’d never met them before. Yes, a completely random internet stranger. Now, if I was going to be completely fair about it, I’d say I might have been a bit pushy. They might have been a bit careless – not paying as much attention as they could have been. Basically a very minor misunderstanding led to me doing something that they deemed utterly abhorrent. In my value system, it qualifies as “uhh, *shrug* so what?” but ok, everyone gets upset by different things.
Anyway, I could see that this person was in pain. They were screaming furious (sound familiar?) All over what to me was a simple misunderstanding, fixed with one click of a button. Them being upset didn’t bother me particularly, I just thought, well, they should have paid more attention, & besides, it’s such a minor thing, really, who cares?
But of course, different value systems – you can see where the misunderstanding might creep in.
The practical upshot was this – that person poured a ton of negative energy (bile, acid, stress) into their body for an extended period of time. Net effect on me? Basically zero.
Ok, so back to Event X.
Here’s what I realised today.
This person had been threatening to do what they actually ended up doing for weeks. I just figured they wouldn’t go through with it, so of course it was a huge shock when they did. However, if I’d actually listened to them, and taken action much earlier, I wouldn’t even have noticed what they’d done. The effect on me would have been absolutely nothing. Less than nothing. Actually the outcome has been very positive.
So, hang on, I got that angry, for what? Not paying attention? Not acting on what I’d already been told. Basically, I got angry because they did what they said they would do. Because they were as good as their word.
I know I got stressed. Probably shortened my lifespan in the process.
What a complete & utter waste of energy.
Carrie Fisher had a great quote about resentment – but the exact same thing applies to anger, so I’ll paraphrase (Thanks Carrie, love your work!):
“Anger is like drinking poison and waiting for the other person to die”
So true. So very, VERY true.