A fool gives full vent to his anger.
– Ancient Proverb
In an increasingly pressure-packed and stressful world, it’s not surprising that incidents of hostility, anger and resentment abound. Constant stress often brings out the worst in us—we become less tolerant and less understanding of those around us, less focused on the desires and needs of others, and if you’re like me, sadly, all too willing to offer an under-the-breath expletive at someone when I don’t get my way.
I used to believe my anger was the result of what someone else said or what they did. However, I’ve come to realize that belief is a lie. The truth is that we make a choice to be angry. We may find reason to blame others for things we don’t like, but we alone make the choice whether or not to be angry.
Dale Carnegie once said: “You can measure the size of a person by what makes him angry.” In other words, our anger reveals what is inside of us. Our ability or inability to control anger directly correlates to the values by which we live. When our values are externally focused our anger usually is kept well in check. When values are self-focused, we’ll easily justify our anger when we don’t get our own way.
Our responses to life situations and to the people around us, especially in a crisis, are clear indications of what is going on inside us. If we truly value love, our response to others will be caring and compassionate, even in difficult situations. If we sincerely value gratitude we will be thankful for what we have instead of being upset because we can’t get what we want. If we actually value family, friends and professional associates, we’ll be happy to help serve their best interests even if it means we, individually, don’t get exactly what we want.
Each of us is responsible for our own response to situations. An angry response usually means something is going on inside us that causes us to abandon deeply held values and beliefs. Often that something is fear…fear of the unknown, fear that we won’t get our own way, fear that we will fail.
Fear tends to make us ignore our values and prompts us to respond with self-focused, irrational, often offensive, behavior. Such behavior isolates us from others and limits our ability to have influence or make a positive impact.
Don’t play the fool—examine, embrace and live out the values you know to be good, right and true.