From Darkness into Light

Do you ever feel overwhelmed by your anger? Does the darkness sometimes cloud your vision and fill you with so much anger that you could lash out in a burst of temper that others would find disturbing? Do you ever feel the anger simmering and boiling just beneath the surface like a volcano that’s about to erupt uncontrollably? Well, it’s a very familiar aspect of the human condition and it isn’t very helpful to pretend that these feelings don’t exist. Because they most certainly do exist.

The fact is, we all feel anger. Life is an intensely emotional experience and anger, like all negative emotions, is part of the spectrum of emotional expressions that affects all of us. The purpose of drawing attention to this potentially destructive emotional energy is to question whether you’re in control of your anger – or whether your anger is in control of you. It might be helpful to bear in mind that here is a wide gulf between these two states.

You will not be punished for your anger. You will be punished by your anger. – Buddha

When we consider the nature of anger, it’s very useful to remember that all negative emotions have their roots in fear. That’s right. That means we need to look beyond the superficial manifestation of our emotional reactions and look for their origins – below the surface and beyond the obvious. Whenever a negative emotion arises – and anger is a perfect example of a destructively negative emotion – we must ask ourselves a very simple question:

What am I afraid of?  

Our language and our culture encourage us to connect our anger with whatever seems to provoke that particular response. We assume that some external event is capable of making us angry. Someone says something foolish – and we react with angry indignation. Somebody makes an unkind remark – and we feel the anger rising in righteous outrage! In fact, we never seem to run short of things to make us angry. Have you noticed that? There’s always something – or someone – that has the capacity to touch a sensitive nerve and spark a furious response in us.

Every day we have plenty of opportunities to get angry, stressed or offended. But what you’re doing when you indulge these negative emotions is giving something outside yourself power over your happiness. You can choose to not let little things upset you. – Joel Osteen

But the anger couldn’t possibly reside in the external events that prompt us to respond with such negative feelings. There is no emotional content in any event per se. We are the ones who add the emotional flavour to any moment, event or occurrence.

So, if we accept the idea that our anger cannot come from outside of ourselves, we need to ask ourselves:

Where does it come from?  

Well, the anger – and the fear that spawns all of our negative emotions – must reside within us. That’s where our emotional reactions are seated. Within us. Not in the world around us. Not in the external events. Inside our emotional centers where all of our feelings are generated.

So, if our emotions are generated within us, this is the perfect moment to recognise that we are responsible for all the feelings that we attach to everything we see and do, to the way we respond to everything that’s going on around us. And when we ask ourselves in a moment of anger what we might be afraid of – the anger is transformed beneath the light of our scrutiny into a passing cloud that melts away under the light of our rational enquiry.  

I shall allow no man to belittle my soul by making me hate him Booker T. Washington

In this moment of logical introspection, we discover the power to transform the base metal of our anger and fear into the pure gold of reason and self-control. We free ourselves from the contaminating weeds of fear and channel our energy into more positive and supportive thoughts and feelings. Anger loses its grip on our reactions. Fear dissolves in the light of our scrutiny. As we learn to expose the shadows of our fears to the force of logical reasoning, they disappear. Being free from the haunting tendrils of these lingering old habits, we discover new levels of energy and enthusiasm for our lives. The power that was locked up in our doubts and fears is released and channeled in the pursuit of our dreams. We turn the leaden weight of our fear into the refined gold of achievement, success and personal fulfilment.

Make today the day when you practise the alchemy of personal transformation. Let go of your fears. Release your anger. Focus on your goals. And travel lighter without the weight of all that negativity in your baggage.

When angry count to ten before you speak. If very angry, count to one hundred. – Thomas Jefferson