Monday, July 25, 2011

Let go of your anger.

Realize that anger originates within the self.

It is not provoked by others.

You are the only person who can own your pain.

The acceptance of this will set upon your mind a calmness rivaled only by the silence of oblivion.


  1. I love your posts, Hayden. They are always so truthful and full of goodwill. You are clearly a person who knows what it means to live a happy and productive life. It is only recently that I have begun to let go of some things which have pained me, and you are right...the calmness is astonishing.

    However, in the interest of playing Devil's Advocate I will offer a counter-point. There have been many times when I felt anger and I was able to channel it productively. Especially in the gym...when I felt like I was at the point of exhaustion I reached deep inside, thought of a person who wronged me...and somehow I found the strength to push for more laps in the pool, or repetitions of weights, or a few more minutes of running.

    And some of the greatest changes in history have been brought about as a result of anger. To quote Malcolm X: "Usually when people are sad, they don't do anything. They just cry over their condition. But when they get angry, they bring about a change."

    I would love to hear your thoughts on this, if you are willing to share.


  2. Shane,

    I'm sorry that it has taken me so long to get back to you. Things have been really crazy for me lately. I want to thank you for the kind words, and also for your participation and interest in the blog and the thoughtful responses that you leave. I am always happy to share my thoughts and feelings, so never hesitate to ask.

    Anyway, I understand what you are saying about anger instigating change. It certainly seems as though anger triggers a lot of social reform and gives people the courage to speak out for what they believe.

    However, I feel that attributing this entirely to anger (not to say that you do) is a bit of an oversimplification. I feel that people who are motivated into social change are motivated largely by emotions other than anger. In my experience, anger is a very small emotion. Anger is petty and heavily biased towards the individual. But to do good things - to put your reputation on the line in an attempt to change society for the better - requires the utmost compassion and respect for other people, which I feel is something that anger does not grant you.

    So while anger may act as the trigger for many sorts of change, I believe that the driving emotion turns into something much bigger and much more powerful than anger can ever be. To use your example as an example, while exercising, YOU think about someone who wronged YOU so that YOU may find the strength to improve YOURself. And I'm not trying to be a jerk; I think that it's great that you have that sort of will. However, it goes to show that anger is, by nature, a self-centered emotion. Even in your case, I would be willing to bet that what starts out as tapping into your anger evolves into something deeper and more inspiring: perhaps a subconscious desire for self-improvement and discipline?

    My overall point, really, is that I feel strongly that with enough careful introspection and self-understanding, we can condition ourselves to skip the anger phase of our emotions. Anger can inspire people into performing much larger acts of good; I don't dispute that. But it also causes unthinkable acts of harm, oftentimes even in people who are otherwise very rational. Without anger, those acts would mostly disappear, but the good would still remain.

    The day that we realize that the provocation (anger) is not necessary to access the more critical emotions involved in social and personal reform (compassion, empathy, forgiveness, love, etc.) will be a great day for humanity indeed.

    If that day ever comes, of course.

    It is my hope that it does.

    Anyway, I'd love to hear your continued thoughts on this if you can find the time. It's definitely an interesting discussion.

  3. Wow. Very well said. I could continue to play Devil's Advocate (one of my favorite hobbies), but the truth is that upon reading your comments and taking the words to heart I can see that you are correct.

    Anger can be a catalyst, of course, but it is surely not the only motivating factor. And we both understand that I never implied otherwise. I do believe it is true that anger by itself is a very self-centered emotion, but given a particular set of circumstances it can be the spark that ignites the flames of change. However, a spark alone does not fuel a fire; it needs oxygen to continue burning. What forms that oxygen? Hope. Love. Charity. Goodwill. Compassion. Optimism. All of the positive emotions.

    (I speak in metaphors - I often find this is the best way to get my points across.)

    And of course, I never meant to say that anger can be a positive emotion. Only that it can also be channeled for beneficial purposes. Of course, when we use a dangerous force as a weapon we often wield a double-edged sword.

    I feel that I am often more cynical than optimistic and as such, I perceive the world in these terms. You, sir, are more of an optimist and are therefore prone to seeing the good qualities in people and the potential for us to accomplish great things. For the sake of our world I hope more people subscribe to your set of beliefs. I don't consider myself an angry person by any means, but I do find your idea of 'conditioning ourselves to skip the anger phase of our emotions' to be very intriguing. As a sort of experiment I will take the next few weeks to engage in that type of conditioning. To seek to understand what motivates an individual's actions, to be proactive rather than reactive. To push away any anger, irritation, or frustration as soon as it comes forth. I think the results could be interesting.

    I would love to see you adapt some of the ideas from your last comment and form them into an entry. Perhaps relating them to your life experiences? Have any particular events instilled this sense of compassion within you?