Angry people are more likely to be sick than people who are not angry. They get more heart attacks. They get more cancer, and they suffer more emotional angst, drama, and stress than others. This anger is a constant strain on the body and mind, and blocks the likelihood of being in touch with spirit. So what's an angry person to do? Anger is a human condition, which means that angry thoughts and emotions come to us all as a part of our earthly life experience. The challenge we face is whether to indulge our angry thoughts or to neutralize them. Neutralizing anger is a basic and powerful, but underutilized healing strategy. Most of us prefer to indulge our anger. Indulging occurs whenever we interpret events and situations in alignment with the ego rather than with the Holy Spirit. The ego is a collection of ideas we hold about ourselves which lead us to believe in our own self-importance and specialness.
There are many popular and appealing ways to indulge our ego and its feelings of self-importance:
We indulge whenever we think or talk about how much we've been hurt and how bad or wrong a person or a group is. This constant replaying of an unfair, unpleasant scenario does nothing to minimize or neutralize your anger. Instead it keeps your anger alive. And then it becomes stronger and more important.
We indulge whenever we analyze our unhappy situations. Contrary to this generally accepted belief, analysis does nothing to lessen anger. You can spend days, months and even years analyzing and trying to understand something someone did to you and still be angry about what happened at the end of the analyzing exercise. In fact, you may become angrier and more entrenched about your own righteousness or victimization! The reason for lack of breakthrough is because anger has no meaning. It is an unconscious act and therefore an empty and meaningless act. Anger does not exist in heaven, the real world we do not see. Therefore anger is something we only do here on earth that we can live without.
We also indulge whenever we choose to express our anger and tell others how hurt, disappointed or unhappy we are because of something they did or didn't do. This reactive anger is typically expressed the moment it comes to mind, using any language, voice tones, bodily gestures that suit your purpose. No one is suggesting you should suffer in silence or allow yourself to become a doormat for the world. The point is that you can ask for what you want without anger, without guilt trips, without bargaining, without intimidation, shunning, or other miserable techniques.
Few people openly recognize how much they like and value their anger, but we do. We all do. For one thing, anger is very dramatic and gets attention. Lots of it. And who here doesn't want special attention? For another, it's a powerful and easy tool for getting your own sweet way. There are no statistics on this, but it's highly likely your anger will produce the intended result. Even just the threat of anger might work. Why on earth, then, would you want to neutralize anger when you get rewarded for using it? And then there's the fact that spewing your anger on others spoils their happiness just as they have spoiled yours. There is, after all, nothing quite so satisfying as payback! Justice. Retribution. Revenge. These are compelling reasons, indeed, for keeping our ego and its anger fit and ready for action.
So here you are, an expert angry person, with a lifetime of experience using this handy trick to rule your world. Yet something is missing. Something doesn't feel quite right. Maybe others have bad feelings about you. Maybe you have bad feelings about yourself or others. Especially about yourself. The most practical and important reason for going through the bother of learning how to neutralize your anger is because an angry state of mind makes it impossible for you to experience happiness and for you to like yourself. And this underlying exasperation and unhappiness makes you susceptible to disease.
Anger and happiness are mutually exclusive. You can have whatever state of mind you want, but you can only have one at a time. Therefore, the choice to be angry is likewise the choice to be unhappy and to ultimately hate self. Anger only seems to work. Pain and dysfunction are right there, underneath the false veneer of angry power, attention, and justice. This pain is your bottom line, the rub that finally moves you to action. We want to keep our anger because it's easy, and because we think it works so well, and because we are so afraid we won't get what we want without it. But after a lifetime of unhappy experimentation, there is only one sane conclusion: there must be a better way, a much better way.
A Course In Miracles® reminds us that "God Wills your happiness." Did you know that the word "good" is derived from the word "God?" It's no accident, then, that feeling good about yourself and others strengthens your connection to God. And that feeling bad about yourself or others weakens your connection to God. Or said another way, feeling bad about yourself results in a separation from God. So it's not that anger is bad, wrong, or sinful. Rather it's that indulging in anger has an effect, and the effect is this: anger makes you forget that you are a loving being; it disrupts and distracts you; and it also creates feelings of fear, anxiety, guilt, or separation. These chaotic, empty feelings are unhealthy, and they lead you to question your worth and your holiness. This is how and why the undoing of anger is a powerful spiritual practice and the only way to achieve unshakeable feelings of self-love.
So, my friend, it is up to you. Only you can decide to change your mind about the value of anger. Only you can decide to learn another way of satisfying yourself and making yourself happy. Are you ready to awaken to your own truth and loveliness?
This article is adapted from The Book of Love: Awaken Your Passion to be Your Higher Self, the ultimate spiritual guide to undoing anger, by Karen Bentley. Bentley is also the author of
10 Radiant Ideas, Stop Out-of-Control Eating : The Big Heart Way to Create Strength Through Inner Peace, and Get the Love You Want. She has been writing, speaking and teaching the path of love since 1992. For more information go to