In general, most people tend to prefer peace to conflict. We definitely prefer calm to tension. Yet, anger still shows up occasionally to rear its ugly little head.
And, often, being angry, when it comes down to it, is because of one thing: selfishness.
Nearly every time we get angry, it’s because something (or occasionally, the entire universe!) is not going our way.
Anybody can get along with those who are quiet and mild-tempered. And associating with people you naturally like, or with people who tend to agree with you, is no great accomplishment.
But the true virtue of overcoming anger is proven by getting along with people and situations that are difficult and even contrary to our own way of seeing things.
Personally, I tend to become angry with people that I ‘view’ as being prideful, selfish, rude and thoughtless.
In the past, when I detected this in a person, not only did I want nothing to do with them (at least in the moment it was happening) but I would also make sure they knew I was annoyed by it.
Was that virtuous of me? Umm, I highly doubt it. How about judgmental, too?
The better position is to live not only at peace with ourselves but to also be at peace with those around us, regardless of their actions.
“How dare this person treat me this way!”
“This person needs an attitude adjustment, and I’m just the guy to do it!”
“This person must be going through a really hard time right now, I should see if I can help him.”
“This person needs my prayers.”
“Perhaps this person just needs me to be a better example.”
Our best way to avoid selfish anger is to be more compassionate, versus retreating to our inner spoiled little brat that didn’t get his or her way about something.
And. It’s. Not. Easy. Let me tell you.
Personally, my inner spoiled little brat has bright hair, fangs and eats far too much chocolate.
Think about it, how often are we exactly like this brat, except we’re grown-ups and are supposed to know better?
When we’re busy, someone interrupts us and … bam! Angry time! Why? Because we wanted to continue our work uninterrupted but some inconsiderate troll has ruined that perfect world (you’re obviously seeing how wrong this is, yes?).
So, how do we turn our reaction of anger into a response of peace and calm? First, by bearing patiently what we cannot remedy. If someone needs to interrupt you, I’m sure (for the most part), they truly need your help with something. And a person who knows how to suffer this patiently, will be rewarded with peace.
And if we do it for God’s sake, the reward is all the greater – as well as the peace.
When troubles come to us, we should do our best to not let these ‘troubles’ disturb us. If in the end you’re not able to find immediate compassion for the person or situation (the universe!), look to God, Who, with prayer, will help you to find the peace that you need.
Again, anger often appears when things go against our wishes. What if instead of anger or spite (internal or external) we live by a good example letting our patience rule the situation or the day?
I used to work with a woman who was always happy. She was continually smiling and positive. At first this woman annoyed me because I thought she was fake. But then I quickly realized just how genuine she was.
And the most interesting part? I learned with time that this super happy, always positive woman had suffered many painful trials and obstacles in her life. But she never seemed the least bit resentful or angry. Her faith in God is strong, and her positive personality reflects her love for God.
Each time we counter, with patience and humility, those people and situations that annoy us or make us angry, we diminish the selfishness and pride that used to rule in us. They have less and less hold on us.
Don’t get me wrong, there are rare occasions for ‘righteous anger’ but admit to yourself, how often do those occasions really happen?
Most of the time we become angry because we lack understanding, sympathy, patience or even a willingness to suffer any more than we must – or even at all.
How would Our Lord react in these same situations? He is our ultimate model. Letting go of anger isn’t easy. But as we become more aware of the people and situations that incite anger from us, we are given opportunities – valuable opportunities – life-changing opportunities.
And you know what ‘they’ say … never let an opportunity go to waste.