“There is no more stupefying thing than anger, nothing more bent on it’s own strength. If successful, none more arrogant, if foiled, none more insance – since it’s not driven back by weariness even in defeat, when fortune removes its adversary it turns its teeth on itself.” – Seneca, On Anger, 3.1.5
Some people think as Johnny “Rotten” Lydon sang, “anger is an energy”. It can be used to motivate us to greatness. It can inspire us to improve our condition or the condition of others. I admit I can be one of those people. This assumes there is no possible way to achieve the same outcome without anger. When Seneca claims “it turns its teeth on itself” he’s telling us that this fuel does not burn without damaging the very system within which it runs.
“Hatred paralyzes life; love releases it. Hatred confuses life; love harmonizes it. Hatred darkens life; love illuminates it.” –MLK, Jr, Strength to Love
As a bad fuel, anger damages the vessel that holds it.
“Holding on to anger is like grasping a hot coal with the intent of throwing it at someone else; you are the one who gets burned.” – Buddha
An article from the “Better Health” website details the physical damage of anger.
- digestion problems, such as abdominal pain
- increased anxiety
- high blood pressure
- skin problems, such as eczema
- heart attack
Anger will eventually burn itself out. What embers are left? What damage has been done that must be repaired? Does being angry foster love, or hatred? The book uses a great example of how being called fat might motivate someone to lose weight. But at what cost? How does the person who lost the weight feel about those who used the unkind words?
Be ever aware of what is fueling you.