One thing most people don’t know about me is that I sometimes struggle with bouts of anger. While my outbursts manifested much more frequently in my younger days (my teen years were particularly dark), seeds of fury have been sprouting more recently in my day to day world.
I do work very hard at keeping my flare-ups at bay, but sometimes trying desperately to live in a world of sunshine and lollipops can take its toll, and a series of recent events has once again started my molten brewing. This time, however, I chose to deal with the root of my anger head on rather then vehemently deny its existence (which I am not ashamed to admit took a valiant effort on my part). During an impromptu, totally off the cuff discussion with a reverend friend of mine, he directed me to the book Anger: Wisdom for Cooling the Flames by famed Buddhist monk, Thich Nhat Hanh. Knowing another self-help book by some unknown know-it-all would only frustrate the crap out of me, my friend suggested I take a more modest, calm approach to dealing with my anger. Apparently this book was just the medicine I needed. Let’s just say, I’m glad I took his suggestion.
While this book takes a very simplistic, diagnostic approach to dealing with the thoughts and feelings that anger so tightly has a grasp on, it did provide a lot of insight and truth. I had to keep forefront in my mind however that a Buddhist monk penned this book as its incredibly basic approach to dealing with anger must be kept within the context of eternal peace and places of enlightenment.
The main lesson I learned was that in its most basic form, anger comes from within. It is almost always outward directed thanks to a storm that has stirred up in our subconscious. Triggers and misunderstandings feed the winds of this storm and in order to chase it away from directly affecting us , more often than not, we release the steam in unproductive, hurtful ways. What Thich Nhat Hanh suggests is to honour the pain and seek help/forgiveness from others – to confront the cause of your anger in a peaceful, intelligent way so that you can not only honour your own suffering but become aware of the suffering in others as well. While a very healthy approach, it is one that takes a lot of personal commitment and training – and much social unlearning.
I am, however, really glad I read this book and feel the insights and techniques shared will help curb future materializations of my anger monster.
Next up on the book shelf – Hounded: The Lowdown on Life from Three Dachshunds by Matt Ziselman