10 Reasons to Slow Your Anger

Good sense makes a man slow to anger, and it is his glory to overlook an offense. –Proverbs 19:11

It is not the easiest pill to swallow, but being slow to anger is the best medicine. Here’s 10 reasons why it is best to let it go:

  1. Winston Churchill said, “A man is about as big as the things that make him angry.” Let that quote sink in if the little things make you angry.
  2. Not getting angry is a true test of self-mastery. Do you have enough restraint over your mind to not give into your emotions?
  3. To not retaliate may be perceived as weakness, but this is the easy way. Isn’t it better to have the strength of a calm mind? As Marcus Aurelius put it, “The nearer a man comes to a calm mind, the closer he is to strength.”
  4. What is the offense? Does the offender deem this as offensive or are they acting in a way they perceive to be right?
  5. A city breached and left defenseless are those who cannot control their temper. –Proverbs 25:28. What’s the translation here? Without the proper defenses in place, you are vulnerable. An angry man does not make good decisions, and poor decisions are a liability.
  6. The high road, your glory, is to overlook it. When the offender realizes his errors, the onus is on him to make it right.
  7. The low road, which is shameful, is to point out the offence. Do this, and chances are the offender will care less about rectifying the mistake.
  8. Is this something you will be angry about tomorrow? Only if you stoke the fire.
  9. When anger rises, think of the consequences. –Confucius
  10. Take a deep breath. Count to ten or a hundred. Do what is right and you can’t go wrong.

Heed the Red Flags

A few days ago, I encountered an issue at work that really upset me. For a few moments, I allowed myself to fixate on the problem until I became angry. It was at that moment a warning siren went off in my mind. What will happen if I take this anger too far?

For some, it doesn’t take much to set them off. The smallest infraction can flip the switch that causes their blood to boil. It is easy for me to spot it in others, but often I don’t even notice my own switch. And like the incident at work, it is my ego that allows that anger to rise. If I was less self-absorbed and had the ability to see the bigger picture, I would realize that this misdemeanor against me was not some sort of malicious scheme.

If in that moment of anger, if I could not get control of my emotions, I was at risk professionally. Saying the wrong thing could result in disciplinary measures, even termination. And though in my mind I would tell myself it would never go that far, the lack of self-control I was demonstrating would suggest it to be possible.

But I also had another thing to consider: my reputation. Do I want to be known as that guy who is emotionally unstable? Do I want to be the one who talks and writes about living a virtuous life but is unable to actually live it? Of course not. What kind of example would I be demonstrating to my peers? More importantly, what kind of example would I be demonstrating to my family, my son?

The red flags were a good reminder to slow down. They were saying to proceed with caution, because there were dangerous turns up ahead. I am thankful that the red flags popped up, and that I heeded their message. I took a moment to relax. I took a moment to breathe and see the issue from a different perspective. The anger ceased to rise, and I avoided any potential consequences.

If you are patient in one moment of anger, you will avoid one hundred days of sorrow. –Chinese Proverb

The ability to be patient is the ultimate in self-control. If we take the focus off of ourselves, we can realize that mistakes occur often without malice. By maintaining poise in the situation, we can address the problem at hand, correct it, and move forward.

The Strength of a Calm Mind

Imagine a strong warrior. He has no weakness. His attacks are well chosen and executed with purpose. There is no chinks in his armor, no weakness in his defense. He doesn’t panic in difficult situations. He is calm and does what is necessary.

In ancient times, the strength of a city was determined by the strength of its walls. If the enemy could penetrate the walls, they could invade the city and plunder its wealth. Protection came from the wall. The stronger the walls, the greater the protection.

A city breached and left defenseless are those who do not control their temper. –Proverbs 25:28

It is hard to think clearly when you are angry. Anger is like a bad drug that impairs your ability to make good decisions. Allowing your anger to control you weakens your defenses. It allows your enemies, whatever/whoever they may be, to penetrate your walls. Once the damage is done, it is difficult to recover. Repairing broken walls is no easy chore.

With a calm mind, our ability to make good decisions improve. Not making irrational decisions means no reparations have to be made. We can always move forward without any damage control impeding our progress. We can be like the strong warrior who moves with precision and strength.

The nearer a man comes to a calm mind, the closer he is to strength. –Marcus Aurelius

Prone to anger? Find a way to control it. If possible, step away from the source of the problem and observe it like an outsider. Often, it is a misguided perception of the issue that allows our anger to form. Rather than react in anger, we can detach from the situation and figure out how to correct it. This is strength.

Meditation: On Pride

I know I need to meditate more. Yesterday was day one. Ten minutes in the morning before leaving for the gym to meet a client. 10 minutes again sitting in the car before walking into work. Later that evening, I lost my focus and subsequently lost my temper. Now I am on the second day, and it needs to be better than the first.

I set the timer for 15 minutes. It is dark outside as I sit in my car in the parking lot. 15 minutes to meditate and then 5 minutes to walk into work. I close my eyes and sit. I try to center myself, but something is missing. Oh yes, my breath. In. Out. Why did I get angry last night? I should have known better. I should not have fell into the trap. In. Out. Pride. It was my pride. My pride was injured. It wanted to retaliate. My pride is me. Not some separate embodiment acting of its volition. My pride. My ego. I own it. No one else is to blame. Blaming others is the easy path. The wrong path.

My thoughts begin to drift. I think about work, about the things I need to do today. Something is not right. My breath. Focus on my breath. In. Out. Back to pride. Back to anger. How do I eliminate it? How do I become stronger? This pride, my pride, is a weakness. When it is in control, I am more prone to anger. Anger is bad. It leads me down the wrong path. It leads to stupid and rash decisions. It leads to thoughtlessness. Chaos.

What will I do this weekend? What will I read? Write? This is not the time to let the mind wander. Concentrate on the breath. Breathe in. Take in the oxygen, the life. Exhale the breath. Expel the pride. Like the Om, expel the pride. When the anger comes, the walls crumble. My defenses are weakened. A city unprotected. My walls are my strength. My protection.

In. Out. Courage. It takes courage to be strong. It takes courage to overlook a perceived offense. It takes courage to not retaliate. Courage, not pride. With courage is strength. Pride is weakness. Anger is weakness.

In. Out. The timer goes off. My mind is now focused on courage. My prayer is to have the strength to be courageous. The strength to put away pride and anger. One last breath in and then exhale. It is time to walk to work.

A city breached and left defenseless are those who do not control their temper. –Proverbs 25:28