Anger Is a Waste of Passion
Anger. Bliss. Love. Hate. These words all describe forms of passion, yet their difference can only be described as polar. Passion, in all its forms, serves to motivate and bring about action. One seldom hears of a passionless murder and a moment without passion is equal to a movement wasted. Passion forms the basis for most human endeavors and scales up the creative and destructive forces.
Anger and hate are undoubtedly forms of passion. They are strong, motivating emotions which can cause devastating outcomes. The notion however that anger can be used as motivation for good is, in my opinion, false. Anger must instead be transformed into another form of passion prior to any resulting beneficence.
In physics, one learns that energy is conserved, meaning that no energy is lost in an isolated system. The same is true of passion. Passion is not lost within us, but as with the different forms of energy, the forms of passion can be transformed into other kinds. In this sense, passion is polymorphic. It takes no loss of passion for anger to become love or even vice versa.
So, to explain the title of this piece, I question: who would not gladly exchange their grief or anger for a more stable and fulfilling passion? And when we get angry, do we not all see the destruction of our very souls taking place in direct proportion to the anger?
All would be glad to be rid of anger, yet many don't feel it as controllable, malleable, and certainly don't see it as but one of many faces of passion.
To first address the controllability issue, anger is such a strong form of passion that it renders the angry unable to control thought and action. Hence the terms “seeing red”, or “blind rage”. The thing is, while there may be a point at which anger boils over into something without reason, it very often can be intercepted and modified pre-boil. It is important to recognize the point at which this occurs, for knowing of its presence and acting before sliding down a harsh grade is far easier than post-outburst damage control.
On to the malleability of anger, it is important not only to recognize that anger is malleable but also to see the ways in which it can be transformed. Anger can be redirected or shaped into another form of passion by tracing it back to its root. As with controlling anger, identifying its cause is easiest at its inception, instead of navigating through a sordid web of negative thoughts. Once the root is identified, the next step is to reimagine the associated passion for that particular cause.
For example, if I thought I was angry that someone spoke rudely to me, I could first recognize that the true source of my anger was that I felt inadequate in my own manners and had a history of reacting badly. I could then transform that anger into a less damaging form of passion by recognizing that by not reacting to their insult with another, I was reshaping my past pattern of bad reactions, thereby transforming the anger into the joy of being better. Taking this a step further, I could use that joy of accomplishment to fuel future accomplishments. This illustrates how negative passion can be transformed into positive energy.
The idea that passion has many faces seems fairly intuitive, but the idea that these forms can be interchanged without loss is a much more profound statement. I cannot yet claim this with certainty, though a wealth of personal experience validates the idea. Admittedly, this is an empirical hypothesis: one based on the phenomena I have observed and felt, as opposed to a theoretical conclusion. However, the concept, that one form of passion may be transfigured into another, is validated manifold by human experience.
Perhaps the most typical anger transformation is into sadness. Often the will to fight breaks down into a less aggressive state of regret, sorrow, or despair. But a transformation from negative to other negative is not the only option. By following the anger to its root and then redefining the perspective around that anger, one can successfully transform negative energy into a positive form.
There is little need for sadness or resentment, but people often default to them thinking there to be no alternative. Yet critically, there is always an alternative. As Viktor Frankl put it:
“Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.”
By recognizing and utilizing one’s power, one establishes a better state of mind, and in so doing increases power. This increase enables one to not only mitigate a bad situation but avoid other harmful circumstances in the future.
In sum, there is a way to transform anger into a more positive form of energy, and this can be accomplished using back-tracing and dynamic association between a stimulus and response. As with any other skill, it must be learned and habitual prior to feeling natural. Making it effortless is of paramount importance, and the best way to accomplish this is to practice these two simple steps at every opportunity thus forming a powerful habit of improvement and excellence.