Why you're angry and he/she isn't
Updated: May 28, 2019
Anger is one of the many emotions we experience as we go through life. It’s something I struggled with quite a bit when I was younger. I used to lose my shit over the smallest things and get so worked up. This often led to me upsetting people as well as getting into more fights than I would care to admit.
However, anger is no longer something I have a problem with. Yes, I still drop the occasional four-letter word, but I just can’t stay angry or resentful for long. I came to understand life more and appreciate the true purpose of anger. Let me explain.
The cause of anger
This particular emotion is triggered when we believe that something could have happened differently. It could be that we believe a certain event could have been otherwise or that a person could have chosen to behave differently. Both concerns stem from overlooking the process of cause and effect, and the illusion of free will.
For example, if you believe that life could have gone differently, you're failing to see all the factors involved in how that event came to take place. You're overlooking the law of cause and effect at play. Likewise, if you believe that a person (including yourself) could have chosen to behave differently, you are failing to see all the values and beliefs a person holds that dictate their behaviour. There is no free will behind their actions.
The purpose of anger
Many people are unsure whether anger is a good thing or a bad thing. Sure, it feels uncomfortable to be angry, but many of us still believe that anger helps us to take action and respond if something unfair, unjust or dangerous has happened. I remember thinking this myself some time ago. However, that’s not the true purpose of anger at all.
In fact, it’s your beliefs that dictate how you respond to any situation, not the emotion your experiencing. The true purpose of anger is much bigger—it's the feedback it provides. If someone is getting angry, that is a sign that they are not viewing the situation clearly. It’s also a sign that they some help understanding life more deeply.
Why your angry and he/she isn’t
It’s interesting to witness two people experience being treated poorly at the same time and watch them both respond differently. A wise person won’t feel angry. They understand what's at play, and use the situation to help the other person as best they can. Someone who has less wisdom will become overwhelmed with anger and is more likely seek revenge than help others.
To use an example, let's say two men are involved in a car accident. The man with less wisdom is furious and begins swearing and becoming animated towards the other. He is experiencing anger because he believes that this event could have been otherwise, and that the other man could have behaved differently.
The other driver is a much wiser man though. He understands that due to cause and effect, this situation was always going to happen. He also understands that the emotional man cannot help his response; he is just not seeing things clearly at the moment and lacks understanding. Sure, the wise man is a bit shaken up from the accident, but instead of responding with anger, he responds with compassion. He is grateful to be alive and uninjured. He offers assistance and checks that all others are okay.
He also sees the opportunity to help the angry man to calm down. He sees the opportunity to be a teacher, to lead by example and help this person understand life more deeply. Finally, the wise man also sees that he is growing from this experience himself. He has learned that perhaps his car needed some urgent repair that could have resulted in an accident far worse than this. Based on this incident, he will service his vehicle more regularly. Likewise, he is learning how not to behave from the angry man's example.
Both men had the same experience of having a car accident. They both responded to the situation. But while the man with much to learn became angry, the wiser man became grateful and compassionate. The wise man did not experience anger.
Despite understanding all of this, you may still get angry occasionally. That anger will serve to remind you that you still have things to learn and you are not seeing things clearly in the moment. You still believe that things could have been different or someone could have chosen to act differently. As you catch yourself and remember that cause and effect is at play, that free will doesn’t exist, your anger will dissolve.
It's impossible to be angry when you're seeing things clearly.
This does not for a moment mean that we should condone any poor behaviour and people harming one another. If someone is walking around murdering people, we don’t just smile and let them carry on. They need to be removed from society as they are sick and dangerous. However, wisdom allows us to approach the situation with compassion and understanding instead of anger. We see the situation as an opportunity to investigate the poor behaviour and educate the individual instead of just condemning them.
Doesn't make sense? Comment below if you have any further questions, objections or thoughts on the topic. I'd love to start a discussion and answer your questions. Please also share this article if you liked it.