Thoughts to Ponder – July 24, 2015
“When angry, count four; when very angry, swear.”
*Mark Twain (Samuel Clemens)
Recently, I wrote a piece in which I described no longer feeling anger at a person who had wronged me. A friend challenged that statement, so today I am attempting to provide a fuller explanation of my thoughts.
Anger is a normal part of the human psyche. We all feel anger. We get angry at our family, jobs, the world situation and human behavior in general. There are so many things in this world that can trigger our anger button. Feeling anger is sometimes appropriate. It’s how we act on that anger that is right or wrong.
Do we shout and swear? Do we vow to get even? Do we stop speaking to that person? Do we refuse to see that person ever again? Do we carry our anger forever? I’ve seen all those reactions and done some of them. The results are always destructive rather than constructive.
Or we can focus our anger another way. If someone makes us angry, we can walk away and consider what triggered our anger. Was it really what they did? Was it a reflection of an old memory? Should we go back and apologize for our behavior? Should we just let the anger fly away in the wind?
Perhaps if our anger is at a larger situation we can become an active part of the solution. Are we angry that too many children can’t read? We can we become a reading tutor. Are we angry at a social situation? Perhaps we can take a page from Mahatma Mohandas Ghandi and lead a march to the sea. Or we can emulate one of his followers, Dr. Martin Luther King, and organize voter registration – still an issue these many years later.
I often get angry about my physical well-being. I’m not as strong as I’d like to be. I can’t do what I did when I was 18. I’m not really sick, but various restrictions and prescriptions make me angry. I’m learning a different tactic for this situation. Acceptance.
I can accept that the other person is not who I’d like him/her to be and move forward accordingly. I can accept that the world situation is not what I’d like to see and if I’m so moved, I can do as the bumper sticker says, “Think globally. Act locally.” Or “Imagine Whirled Peas.”
For many things in my life I live acceptance. However, yesterday my doctor told me to take yet another nutritional supplement, to temporarily forego donating blood, something that means a lot to me and to take yet another yucky test. I became angry. I did not accept her diagnosis and became what she called “cranky.” As the day passed, I realized that she was just looking out for my health. She didn’t tell me I had a horrible disease. She just told me to adjust my life a little for my ultimate good. I’m still not happy about taking yet another pill, but I’m glad it’s a supplement, not a medicine.
A friend recently told me how she recovered from a serious illness. She was following all her doctor’s directions, but feeling angry that she was in so much pain. Finally she reached a point where she said, “Okay, God, if this is to be my life, I accept it. Just show me where to go from here.” Amazingly, she began to heal immediately, a little at a time. She can now participate in activities that were once unthinkable. She’s not playing tennis yet, but she can do pretty much what she wants to do otherwise – work, socialize and just feel good.
“God, grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change,
courage to change the things I can,
and the wisdom to know the difference.”**
© by Sharon D. Dillon, July 24, 2015
*pg 89, Pudd’nhead Wilson, Chapter X, “Pudd’nhead Wilson’s Calendar”
**The Serenity Prayer, A Day at a Time in Al-Anon, 1987, Al-Anon Family Groups
Chesapeake Bay Writers, Erma Bombeck Writers Workshop, Southern Humorists, National Society of Newspaper Columnists
Author of “Twins! Oh no!,” one of 14 stories in The Book of Mom: Reflections of Motherhood with Love, Hope and Faith, published by booksyoucantrust.com. Available in print and e-format at Amazon.com