There’s a simple way to begin the journey of mastering your anger. One of the first things you can do is simply learn how to differentiate personal goals and good desires. A good desire is something that you want to do but is ultimately decided by many other factors other than your own ability and willpower. Put simply, a good desire can be thwarted by others, while a personal goal is something that only you can stop, whether by action or inaction. A personal goal is something that is directly within your influence and no one else’s. There are two things we should consider about anger in this regard. One, is that anger reveals inability; and two, anger is all about influence. These two facts about anger essentially state the same thing in two different ways: If you have no ability in a situation, then it lies outside your personal influence. I will use a common example we can all certainly empathize with, “road rage”. Have you ever been cut off in traffic and become angry? I may as well ask you if the Pope is Catholic. In other words, we all have. This reveals, simply put, that you have no control over that particular situation on the road. Your anger has revealed what should be an axiomatic, self-evident inability to change the traffic patterns and control other drivers’ actions. In that moment, your anger simply reveals that at some point in the past you made a good desire (ex: arriving to work on time) into a personal goal that others can influence and change. When that goal was threatened or stopped, you become angry because someone else was treading on your “territory”. Problem is…it was never your territory to begin with and it was never meant to be. That is why you became angry. A goal should be something that you can achieve personally without interference of someone else. Such as being the best son or daughter you can be or the best worker at the office. You can only control you, the sooner you realize that, the sooner you’ll be on your way to mastering your anger. Most people with “anger issues” really have “control issues” because–without knowing it–they are attempting to make other people and events their personal goals instead of themselves, the only thing they have control over. Isn’t that why they call it a “personal goal” anyways? A “desire” is something else entirely. You can have a desire to get to work on time or a desire to have a happy, healthy home but you have no direct control over those things. It’s perfectly fine to have good desires but when those become misappropriated with personal goals, the tension begins. If you can differentiate things from a desire and a goal (while putting them in their proper place), you will master your anger. As soon as something that ought to be a desire becomes a goal, you will find yourself angry if something or someone threatens you to prevent you from achieving your goal. If you become angry at someone, this simply reveals that you are angry because they stopped you from achieving a desire that you’ve made into a personal goal. For example, you desire to have a happy family but if you make it your personal goal to have a happy family, when someone outside of your circle of influence (wife, husband, children, etc.) blocks that goal, you WILL become angry. Whereas if you make it your personal goal to be the best father to your children and husband to your wife, you can control that and no one will be able to stop it except for you.
(*This information was adapted from the chapter “You Can’t Live Beyond What You Believe” in Victory Over the Darkness by Neil Anderson. I take no credit for what I’ve learned. I only desire to share it with you in the hopes that it helps you along your journey.)
Author’s Bio: THADDEUS BON COEUR is an american who is an amazing writer and a very good teacher of Moral Vales and Ethical Living.