I sent out an email about my upcoming show, The Illusion of Anger, and was met with an angry response. “Anger is NOT an illusion! People die from anger!” he wrote. I am well aware of that. However, that is not the illusion I’m speaking of. According to Webster’s dictionary, anger is a feeling of displeasure or discomfort brought about by feelings of helplessness or powerlessness. Powerlessness – feeling weak and vulnerable. I don’t know anyone who is comfortable feeling helpless or fragile. It is natural for humans to want to feel safe. Anger provides us a sense of power and protection from a perceived harm. However, in some instances, this is actually an illusion. Let me explain.
There are two types of anger: anger “the choice” and anger “the reaction”. In the first one, the individual assesses the situation and mindfully determines whether or not it is deserving of their ire. “Is this issue important or can I let it slide?” A conscious evaluation that determines it’s relatively minor dictates that it’s not worth becoming upset about. Or perhaps it is significant in which case the individual intellectually chooses the best course of action, using their anger to bring about positive change. In this regard, anger proves advantageous and one truly has authority over it.
The second, reactionary anger, is characterized by the emotion gaining control over the individual causing them to act out irrationally, violently, or without regard for others, themselves, or anything around them. Logic is deficient as the person acts from a place of intense emotion and irrational thinking. Words and actions not typical of their behavior take precedent at which time there is little regard for any pain or suffering being inflicted on those around them nor any consideration being given to possible future consequences.
There are some who believe they need anger to survive – it serves as a means to protect themselves and prevent others from causing them harm. Those who are belligerent or aggressive feel others are less likely to take advantage of them or hurt them. However, like a drug, one can easily become dependent on anger as a means of survival and like any addict actually relinquishes their authority to illogical behavior.
When one is consumed with rage, they are in their weakest moment for they have given power over themselves to a situation or individual. “Rude drivers make me angry” relinquishes one’s authority over their own feelings and ability to choose what serves them best. The illusion of anger is the deception that it empowers us.
Our authentic power lies in our intellect, confidence, and free will. I have the ability to access whatever information I need to make a rational decision. I am confident that I can handle whatever situation I’m in or whomever shows up in my life. I exercise the ability to make my own decisions and am not a slave to outside forces nor to my feelings. I have dominion over everything internal and maintain my composure in the face of a challenge.
The key is to recognize when your anger is a deliberate choice or is reactionary in nature. Take control over yourself, your feelings, and your behaviors. That is where your authentic personal power lies. Utilize common sense, confidence, reasoning, and fairness and make anger “the choice” your course of action. In that way, you maintain authority over your life.
Ephesians 4: 26 “In your anger do not sin.”
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