Trying to Repair the Damage of Anger

By Bill Hodges

©2003 Hodges Seminars International

Saint Basil, a Greek theologian said, "Anger is a kind of temporary madness." Iím sure that most of us can relate to his statement and have experienced this madness at some time. In fact, a synonym for angry is "mad."

Strong emotions such as anger produce an increase in heart rate, muscle strength, blood pressure and glycogen metabolism, causing epinephrine to be released into the bloodstream which prolongs the acceleration of such bodily functions. When we dwell upon the condition that triggered our anger, the madness intensifies and we can cause ourselves bodily harm. Physical harms can be in the areas of heart attack, stroke, migraine, blurred vision, shortness of breath and a whole host of lesser bodily irritants that no sane man or woman would consciously inflict upon themselves.

Mentally, the effects of anger can be as debilitating or even more so than the physical effects. George Jean Nathan was fond of saying, "No man can think clearly when his fists are clenched." So it is with anger. No man can make rational decisions when he is mad. Other mental penalties that we pay while anger drives the madness within us are depression, decreased understanding of events, and tunnel vision. The rage that comes with anger and the resulting madness is blinded by the ego that drives it.

How, might you ask, does ego drive anger? Well, the answer is simple. We get the most angry when we feel that someone has offended our dignity. For example, someone cuts in line in front of us at the movies. We get angry, not because it will take us two minutes longer to get into the show, but rather because they did not respect us enough to wait their turn. If someone is late to meet us, we get angry. Not because it matters that they were late, but because they didnít value our time. Ego, and the affronts thereof, are an important driver of the madness we call anger.

Our own anger and that which is directed at us, can many times be defused once we determine its cause. Whenever you are angry or anger is directed at you, look first to see if your ego has been bruised or if you have damaged the ego of someone else. If you are the angry person, review the incident as to whether the slight was intentional or might it have been unintentional. In either case, simply forcing yourself to rethink the situation will help you to gain control of your emotions and prevent an impulsive response which could and most likely will, escalate the situation. When anger is directed at you, look closely at the incident and see if you have bruised someone elseís ego inadvertently. A few well-placed words may quickly repair the damage and stop the madness.

In any case, I like the words of Andrew Borde, "To bedward be you merry or have merry company about you, so that to bedward no anger nor heaviness, sorrow nor pensifulness do trouble or disquiet you." Or, in other words, donít go to bed mad.

Bill Hodges is a nationally recognized speaker, trainer, and syndicated columnist. Hodges may be reached at Hodges Seminars International, P.O. Box 89033, Tampa, FL 33689-0400. Phone 813/641-0816.

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