Wrong Place, Wrong Time

Anger is like a grenade that you think is a sniper rifle.

When something makes you angry, you virtually never direct exactly the right amount of energy at the subject of your rage nor to various bystanders. In fact, you’re probably not even picking the right primary target. You want to think your anger will accomplish something, like it’s a targeted laser or a precise scalpel. In reality, it’s a grenade that you pull the pin from and then drop at your own feet.

The biggest victim of anger is almost always you. Anger is something that happens to you, as much as you want to believe it’s a tool that gives you energy and strength. You’re not The Incredible Hulk. You don’t get bigger and stronger when you get angry; rage does not become a shield that protects you from future harm.

Anger and pain are, in fact, very similar. Both are signals that your body sends to your brain in order to inform you that something bad is happening to you. Pain is a signal that tells you “Hey dummy, move your hand away from the stove.” Pain is simple to interpret in most cases. Anger does the same thing if we listen to it. Anger is really a circumstantial version of pain – in the same way that pain tells you to take your hand off the stove, anger tells you to change your oil more frequently. It does that by making you mad when your car breaks down.

Unfortunately, we often miss that message. Our car breaks down, and instead of “moving our hand from the stove,” we pound on the stove harder – and kick the refrigerator, too. We don’t listen to the message.

That’s misplacing your anger – and it’s about as effective as trying to reduce the pain of your burning hand by punching someone else in the face. You don’t reduce your anger by throwing it at other people. You reduce it by listening to it. Let it talk to you, track its path to your door. Then take your hand off the stove, dummy.

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