This I believe…..that anger is a soreness to the soul.
I am not talking here about the anger that we may all feel at moments/events in life—
§ An injustice to a person
§ The death of a loved one
§ The actions of another toward me
§ The loss of opportunity such as a gold medal in the Olympics or
a job offer
Often times anger is an appropriate initial response that calls for action—appropriate and not equally destructive. The dying person may feel anger toward the loss of life. The bereaved may feel anger at loss of a loved one. But these are stages of grieving, as Elisabeth Kubler-Ross eloquently discussed in the book On Death and Dying. And we move on from this anger toward acceptance so that we can move on with our lives.
What I am referring to here is the anger that grips us. Or more exactly, the anger to which we cling – for years perhaps – long after the event that precipitated it.
Yes, there are life events that profoundly change the trajectory of one’s life – a crippling injury, debilitating illness, the loss of a parent in childhood, the lack of affection and support in one’s growing up years, the loss of employment after years of dedicated service, the betrayal of trust.
Such events can be, and indeed often are, traumatic. But I believe that the real devastation is in the clinging to the event, ruminating on the unfairness of the event, on the loss to one self, on the loss of possibility due to the event.
Such anger, I believe, leads to a life NOT lived in its fullness of potential. Such anger saps our energy, energy that could be used–for renewal, redirection, exploration of what is available despite the loss, for rebuilding and generating newness of life.
We can’t build on anger; left unchecked, I believe that it ultimately it destroys us. And so we see the destruction of nations, buildings, families and worst, I believe, of the SELF.
Anger can become an excuse for destruction, most especially of the self. The self lays blame on others. The self becomes encased in bitterness, isolation, self-annihilation. The self focuses inward and becomes depressed.
The self has a “heart attack,” not just in the physical sense but mainly in the spiritual sense. The heart is so clogged with anger that there is little room for the joy of life to penetrate and take up residence, for the healing powers of friendship, family and human relationships and engagement to enter and give solace.
This I believe——that a life lived well calls on us to release our anger, not cling to it. To do otherwise is to have soreness in the soul and true hardening of the arteries.
As Francis Bacon said: A man that studieth revenge keeps his own wounds green.
If you enjoyed this essay, please consider making a tax-deductible contribution to This I Believe, Inc.