I have a nagging fear that hangs in the back of my mind. It’s a fear that many people have assured me is unfounded and all evidence is to the contrary, but it still bothers me.
I’m afraid of my own anger.
In a previous article, I’ve mentioned how anger can be used as a force for change when it is controlled, justified, and directed towards the cause of the problem proper rather than misguided towards innocents or the mere symptoms. The goal of that exercise was to illustrate how our emotions have no positive or negative force until we give it a purpose.
That said, one of the worst things you can do with anger is allow it to linger and become toxic. The longer anger lingers, the more likely it is – in my experience – to morph into bitter hatred.
This is a problem no matter how you look at it. While anger can and has proven its worth as a motivator, there has never been an instance in which hate has been justified.
As I define it, the difference between anger and hate is a matter of control. Anger can make you want to change a problem and can be quelled; hate will make want to destroy things that may not be the problem and can’t be easily halted.
Even as a child, growing up in a less than ideal environment where my teachers failed to look after us and the streets were hardly safe, I found a had built up a great deal of anger towards those that did me harm. And by do me harm, I mean I was sent to hospitals with broken bones and head injuries that were somehow deemed my fault despite witnesses to the contrary.
I admit to you all what I feel is my greatest weakness, I hate.
I hate dealing with co-workers that refuse to do their jobs and leave everything me.
I hate listening to people blame me for their inconvenience when the situation is clearly out of my control.
I still hate the people that hurt and tortured my friends and myself daily and made me afraid to go to school as a child.
But worst of all, I hate myself for not being better; for lacking the ability to rise above my hate and leave the toxic environment that helped to spawn it.
There is, however, one good thing that has come from my lingering anger. It has taught me to appreciate happiness.
Comedian Dennis Leary once said that, “Happiness comes in small doses.” In my experience, he could not have been more right. It is because true joy is so rare in a world of anger and frustration that we need to cherish them as much as possible.
It’s rare that I find happiness in things, but when I do, those are the greatest moments of my life and I try to share them with the people that I love.
What’s more, it’s the hope of knowing that another small happy moment will eventually come that gives me the strength to fight my hate for one more day.
I long for that day when I can play a game of cards with my friends or watch a live performance with family or even just get a complement from a total stranger. Because those are the moments that remind me that my life is worth living and that this world and its people are worth living for.
What I’m trying to say here is that hate and uncontrollable anger win out when we stop recognizing the joy, happiness, and love that exist in the world. In the words of Buddha, “Hatred does not cease by hatred, but only by love; this is the eternal rule.”