There’s been a couple of episodes in my life where I have seen it in full flow. Like many, I have felt it’s energy flow through my whole body. And I’ve seen it at work in others. It’s scary.
The gap between allowing anger to overwhelm you and doing something you’ll later regret is very small. And I do believe that some people allow it. A rage, a storm of anguish is enlivening, exciting and indulgent. But at what cost? Harm and turmoil for the people around you? Damage caused to someone who could be innocent? The satisfaction you get from the cathartic release of rage is no justification for anger. In fact, it’s incredibly selfish.
Is your wellbeing more important than the wellbeing of those who must endure the pain your anger causes? We don’t exist in isolation. Your choices affect the world around you. Punching a wall, or slamming a door, or screaming may not physically hurt anyone. But it does impact those who hear the pounding, or those who later see the remnants of your actions. Slackening self-control to help release the pain is a dangerous game to play.
I read Puzo’s The Godfather a couple years ago. It’s a tale of loyalty, revenge, family, honour. And anger. This passage has, and always will be filed right next to “anger” in my mind. Whenever I feel it rising in me, or see it in others, it comes to mind.
“The Don considered a use of threats the most foolish kind of exposure; the unleashing of anger without forethought as the most dangerous indulgence. No one had ever heard the Don utter a naked threat, no one had ever seen him in an uncontrollable rage. It was unthinkable. And so he tried to teach Sonny his own disciplines. He claimed there was no greater natural advantage in life than having an enemy overestimate your faults, unless it was to have a friend underestimate your virtues.”