On Anger

Marcus Aurelius, “How much more harmful are the consequences of anger…than the circumstances that aroused them in us.”

Anger erupted from within me usually when I felt threatened. The source was fear of loss of something–job, status, relationship.

Vitaliy Katsenelsen says in his book Soul in the Game, “The venom generated by anger, when allowed to spill into others, is always followed by regret.”

And yes, even to this day I have deep regret for some outbursts from anger.

John Climacus the abbot of St. Catherine’s at the foot of Mt. Sinai writing in the early 600s said that “anger is an indication of concealed hatred, of grievance nursed. Anger is the wish to harm someone who has provoked you.”

John counsels, “The fist step toward freedom from anger is to keep the lips silent when the heart is stirred; the next, to keep thoughts silent when the soul is upset; the last, to be totally calm when unclean winds are blowing.”

It’s that moment between thought and action when you have an opportunity to take a breath, perhaps count 3, 7, 10, 100. That pause is the freedom–the freedom to choose our best response. It is in breath that silence and calm have the opportunity to prevail.

I have learned this the hard way.

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