Speak when you are angry – and you’ll make the best speech you’ll ever regret.”
~ Laurence J. Peter
Our anger toward others says more about us than it does about them.
In the 1963 bestseller, “The Fire Next Time” James Baldwin said, —
“I imagine one of the reasons people cling to their hates so stubbornly is because they sense, once hate is gone, they will be forced to deal with pain. To hold on to it is to delay the day when they must look at themselves and at the real reasons for their lives’ unease, the reasons which cause them to proclaim their rectitude on the one hand and commit their crimes on the other. That pain is merely a door and a dangerous one.”
Baldwin’s observation pinpoints an essential truth about human behavior. At the heart of grudges lies an avoidance of a deeper pain.
Acknowledging the pain isn’t an end in itself. As Baldwin concludes,
“Beyond that door is the love that we want, and the air in which that love flourishes is freedom. Here is the nation God has given you.”
In letting go of hate, we not only free ourselves but also contribute to a world where love and understanding can flourish.
There are 3 practical ways I’ve found useful to navigate anger:
- Identify the real issue: Next time you find yourself boiling with rage, ask yourself: “What’s REALLY bothering me?” Often, it’s not the immediate event, but something deeper. By identifying that root cause, you can address it head-on.
- Take a timeout: Before you react, take a 10-minute break. Go for a walk, meditate, or just breathe. Most of the time, you’ll find your perspective changes after this short pause.
- Communicate: If someone’s actions are causing your anger, talk to them. But remember, it’s not about playing the blame game. Instead, approach it from an “I feel” perspective. This opens up a dialogue rather than a confrontation.
While anger might be a natural human emotion, holding onto it and letting it morph into hatred is a choice that we can choose not to make.