It’s become a common cliché among anger management gurus – “anger, if managed with good techniques, and directed towards a positive change, is a useful emotion.” This text is from one of the most popular books on the topic that one can buy on Amazon: “Anger is a normal human emotion. It serves a variety of positive purposes: improves your communication, helps cope with stress, it energizes you, promotes self-esteem, etc.” The way it sounds I’d almost buy it if it could be bottled and sold at the supermarket!
But is anger really that useful as most western psychologists say? Are there any situations where anger may be useful at all? Seems like it. Well, it has to be right? The therapists say anger is a “normal”, it sure makes the news, (especially when mixed with politics views), there are blogs dedicated to usefulness of anger, heck many of us even run around looking for reasons to be offended. So there must be some reasons where this beast can be helpful, right? Maybe not.
The greatest masters who have conquered their minds and ruled over their emotions had always suggested that expression of anger, under no circumstances, is a useful or productive behavior. In fact it is down right the least useful and most destructive emotions of them all. Why? It’s obvious. Anger not only hurts the one who is experiencing it but it also manifests outwardly in many clumsy ways. In mild cases it produces a bitter face and in more extreme situations – wipes out an entire country.
One might say “But what about situations when someone is being offensive or wants to hurt us?” It is true, some situations will command the use of certain energy to either protect ourselves or the innocent but it can be done without anger. For example, a forceful protest against injustice is acceptable if it’s done without bloody violence – Ghandi and MLK Jr. comes to mind, and lately, if you happen to have heard of the Sea Shepherd Organization, then you might have heard of the Captain Paul Watson.
You see, the beauty of having emotional intelligence is that if you notice someone on the street abusing a dog or some drunkard getting physical with a lady, you can still punch him in the nose if no other means are available to stop this behavior. Sometimes only a physical shock to the body can interrupt one’s pattern and make them stop and think.
The difference here is that correct actions can be performed without anger. It is already a stinky situation so why mix anger into it? Why make it worse? Some eastern wisdom texts compare anger to urine mixed with poison. When we find ourselves in the middle of an unpleasant situation it may smell like urine but when we mix anger into it, they say it’s like “drinking urine with poison”. Now that is the breath you wouldn’t want to be caught with, eh?
Bottom line is this: we can employ some skillful means in every situation and do what feels right without getting angry. The problem with actually getting angry is that we lose clarity of the situation and sound judgment when we need it the most. Yes being a witness to an unjust scene can make us angry but is our craving for a change that will sustain a lasting action to make it happen.
It seems almost obvious – we may feel like there are countless reasons for getting angry but the usefulness factor of that anger itself is truly – ZERO. I invite you to learn and apply some effective anger management techniques and use them.
As I’ve heard from one of my most favorite teachers in the world, the ultimate test for usefulness of this beast of emotions goes like this: “Ask yourself if you like it? Then think if you want it? If you don’t want it then wonder if somebody would buy it from you at a local Farmer’s Market? If you don’t need it, and nobody else wants it then it really must be useless. So toss it away like a rotten rat!”