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Have you gone mad lately? Saint Basil, a Greek theologian, said, “Anger is a kind of temporary madness.” I’m 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.
The Roman Poet Horace once mused, “Anger is a brief lunacy.” It is a lunacy that engenders strong emotions, such as an increase in heart rate, muscle strength, blood pressure, and glycogen metabolism, causing epinephrine to be released into the bloodstream and prolonging the acceleration of such bodily functions. When w2e dwell upon the condition that triggered our anger, the madness intensifies and we can cause ourselves bodily harm—harm that no sane man or woman would consciously do to themselves. Physical harm can occur in the form of heart attack, stroke, migraine, blurred vision, shortness of breath, and a host of lesser bodily irritants.
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 committed an offense against 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. When someone is late, we get angry. Not because it matters that they were late, but because they didn’t respect us enough to value our time. Ego and the affronts thereof are important drivers of the madness we call anger.
The good news is that our own anger, as wells as anger which is directed at us, can many times be defused once we determine its cause. Whenever you are angry, or encounter anger of others, think first about whether your ego has been bruised or if you have damaged the ego of someone else. If you are the angry person, review the incident in your mind. Was the slight 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 else’s ego inadvertently. A few well-placed words may quickly repair the damage and stop the madness.
Most importantly, be aware of the damage that prolonged anger can do to you and those you love. It is an acid that corrodes and eats at everything it touches. When anger strikes you, think about these words from Thomas Jefferson: “When angry, count ten before you speak; if very angry, a hundred.”
I think the simple words of Paul in the New Testament, Ephesians 4:26, “Let not the sun go down upon your wrath,” are among the best words on anger that were ever written. I also 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.” In other words, don’t go to bed mad.
Don’t carry your anger to another day. Lay it down before it wears you down.
Bill Hodges Hosts Television Program
Bill Hodges also hosts an interview-format television program, “Spotlight On Tampa Bay.” It airs Mondays at 8 p.m., Bright House cable channel 950 and Verizon cable channel 30.
Appearing on Monday, September 29, is Florida Senate District 16, Senator Charlie Justice. Senator Justice will, among other things, give us his thoughts on some of the ballot initiatives that will be presented in November. The program October 1, at 7:30 p.m. on channel 949.
Bright House subscribers who cannot get the higher channels can get—at no installation fee and a monthly $1 fee—a box to allow access to the upper level government and educational channels. Call Bright House for details on the rental. If you are unhappy about having to pay extra to see your government in action, complain to your state representatives and the Hillsborough BOCC which have either caused this situation or been complicit in allowing it to continue.
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.
Web site: http://www.BillHodges.com
Copyright 2008 Hodges Seminars International
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News Publications and M&M Printing Company, Inc.
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