THE BLOG
09/30/2011 08:38 am ET | Updated Nov 30, 2011

The Anatomy of Anger

"Speak when you are angry and you will make the best speech you will ever regret."
--Ambrose Bierce

Over the years I have become an avid student of energy and how it moves. What I believe is that as human beings, not only do we consist of pure energy, we are also conduits through which it flows. Once we understand that thought is energy in one of its purest forms, we'll become aware that the thoughts we think make us energy directors. Thus, when we have misguided thoughts fueled by the energy of anger, our words can be very destructive.

When I was a kid, I had a hair-trigger temper. By the time I was a teen, it didn't take much to set me off and ignite my anger. Years later, I discovered that I had real issues abound my physical stature. Being the skinniest, shortest kid in the schoolyard made me a moving target for the local bullies and just about any of my peers. As an adult, I began to understand where my anger was coming from; my own sense of inferiority and defensiveness.

On more than one occasion, thoughts of anger fueled by enraged emotions sent misguided words soaring out of my mouth, which I later regretted. As I matured, I discovered that once words are spoken in a moment of misguided passion (rage), they cannot be called back. It's sort of like launching a guided missile and then realizing there is no "abort & destroy" button once the missile has been launched. Sometimes our words spoken in anger can be like misguided missiles if we are not mindful.

As I began to study the universal law of cause and effect, and how the energy of anger moves from cause (thought plus feeling) resulting in effect (words or actions), I came to understand that I play an undeniable role in being the creator of my own experience. This does not mean that I always have control over what others say or do at any given moment, but it does mean I always have absolute control over how I choose to respond to what has been said or done.

No doubt, people can say and do some incredibly cruel and thoughtless things that can understandably trigger our anger. However, at the end of the day, without exception, justified or not, it is we who suffer the toxic effects of being the conduit or vessel through which that energy of anger flows. Buddha wrote, "Holding on to anger is like grasping a hot coal with the intent of throwing it at someone else; you are the one who gets burned." In other words, the misguided missiles of anger we fire at others always come home to roost.

It has been said that behind all anger is fear. Consider the idea that anger is an outward manifestation of an inner fear of loss of control over something or someone, including one's behavior and words. In "A Course In Miracles," it states, "Anger is a cry for love."

When I flashback to my own childhood experiences around anger, I can see that my anger really was a cry for love and acceptance based on a belief that somehow I wasn't good enough (or lovable) just as I was.  Love seems to be the universal antidote for the toxin of anger. Buddha also wrote, "Let a man overcome anger by love." Let us know this applies to little boys and girls as well as adults.

As a mindfulness practice today, consider becoming the observer of your thoughts and feelings, remembering that the presence of the divine exists at the center of each of us as unconditioned love. It is there and it is accessible -- we need only remember to call on it. 

So perhaps the next time we come across the energy of anger within ourselves or another, we might first consider pausing, taking a deep intentional breath, and before we react with misguided missiles hurling out of our mouth, silently ask ourselves, "What (or who) needs to be loved here?" We might just save ourselves from making the best speech we'll ever regret.

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