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Don't Drive Angry

Anger can be useful. If you are preparing for a boxing match it might see you through the utter confusion of the opening melee until you take some punches and start to work strategically. But if you rely on anger too long you will start to get sloppy. Your opponent will start using it against you. Angry people make bad decisions.

If you're recording a drum track on a Thrash Metal album anger might be your friend but sooner or later you will start missing fills, losing the beat, and throwing down your sticks in frustration, the circle of anger complete.

People who say that their emotions come to their aid are usually making excuses because they cannot control them. I know someone who leads a successful emotion-led life. She is full of pure joy and bon de vivre and lives entirely in the moment at all times without apology. She is 3 years old, called Noodle, is a Golden Retriever, and is not above doing her business on the carpet. If that is living wholly in emotion it is a hard pass for me.

Anger will stay with you, stinking up the place. Think about the last time someone sent you a sh**ty email. You know, something unforgivable including the phrase "as I stated in my last email" or missing the "Dear.." or "Hi…" before your name? Did you respond in kind? Did that feel good?

How much productive time did you lose from your day in the aftermath? How did it affect the next 2 or 3 interactions you had with your colleagues. Did you bite back when they did? Did that cause further ripples of anger and rage to ripple through the cosmos?

Was it worth it? No, it never is. No one ever wins a war.

Anger is an emotional signal from your brain that a part of your self-map or shell identity is being threatened. We don't need to worry about sabre-toothed tigers anymore so we spend our time feeling threatened by anyone who offends our sense of who we are. It's not who we are of course. It's just a jumbled bag of half-baked "truths" that we have picked up along the way. Our "lived experience" is not likely to belong to us at all.

So where does this leave us? Are we doomed to stalk the halls searching for offence and endlessly restarting old conflicts?

No. We're not.

But you have to want to make a change. Human beings are the only mammals who can think about thinking. That allows us to reflect on emotional signals as they happen and re-orient accordingly. At the Council for Human Development, we teach the drill "Step Out of Mind, Observe Mind, Go Neutral".

It gives you control, and why should you not want to have control? The brain is part of the body. The body is the vehicle through which you experience this reality. You're not a slave to that vehicle, you're the driver.

Why would you drive angry if you don't have to?

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