Inspired by the ancient book of wisdom; The Tao Te Ching: Verse Thirty
The one who uses the Tao to advise the ruler
Does not dominate the world with soldiers
Such methods tend to be returned; the place where the troops camp
Thistles and thorns grow. Following the great army
There must be an inauspicious year
A good commander achieves result, then stops
And does not dare to reach for domination
Achieves result but does not brag. Achieves result but does not flaunt
Achieves result but is not arrogant. Achieves result but only out of necessity
Achieves result but does not dominate. Things become strong and then get old
This is called contrary to the Tao. That which is contrary to the Tao soon ends
Anger has served as the fuel for manifesting many necessary social changes such as human rights. However, it is far from the only means to effect positive changes. Our American media venerates hostile personalities. The image of Clint Eastwood staring down at an opponent and stating, “Go ahead, make my day” is iconic in the hearts and minds of many. Biting sarcasm intended to be hurtful and to ridicule its target is somehow reworked to be accepted as funny. Lao Tzu cautions that these approaches will only eventually implode and backfire quickly.
There have been many debates about the horizontal violence or nurse-to-nurse hostility within the healthcare industry. As ugly as this all sound, it is very real and there are many that have come forward with scenarios that range from minor instances to tear jerking accounts of brutality. On many of the occasions when I became angry I felt justified, almost noble. I rationalized that the importance of the principle that I was championing washed away the ugliness of my words, attitude, or demeanor.
How does one get to the point of being angry? Most authorities will agree that anger has its roots in frustration. Sources of frustration may be internal or external. Internal frustration stems from an actual or perceived personal need or blockage to a goal that builds inside causing one to feel anxious until it is met. These internal needs or blockages can range from the inability to be patient to an inability to be accepting of another’s ideas. External frustration can be provoked by simple traffic situations or by issues as serious as resolving financial issues. The outcomes are the same. Whenever frustration is allowed to build to an unmanageable state it becomes the catalyst for an inappropriate display of anger.
So the question now becomes, what is the root of frustration? My answer is the need for personal power. Many people describe the state of frustration as feeling a loss of control over a given person or situation. I believe that this statement is very accurate. Frustration is a perceived loss of personal power. Therefore, it follows that reestablishing a sense of personal power relieves the frustration. Fundamental to gaining and maintaining true personal power is the knowledge that the person who has true power is the person in control of themselves in any given situation. Not the person yelling the loudest or coordinating unrest in the situation.
It is vital to understand and accept that no one internal or external source of frustration makes us angry. We allow ourselves to get angry. We must own our inability to manage our frustration in a way that does not lead to the angry outburst. It is no one’s responsibility to keep us from getting angry. It is our own responsibility to ensure that we have the personal skills to recognize and manage our individual frustrations and control our response to the emotion of anger.
What is the cost of anger on our inner selves? Many people think that keeping your negative feelings pent up can cause you to develop illnesses such as cardiovascular disease. I believe that this is partially true. I don’t think it is the unreleased negative emotion that is doing the physical harm. I believe it is the negative emotion itself.
Dr. Masaru Emoto, a doctor of alternative medicine in Japan, has completed extensive research on the effect that thoughts, words, and ideas have on water. His initial research centered on the water on the plant. He discovered that water samples obtained from pristine environmental sources that were frozen and photographed showed beautiful crystal formations. By comparison, water samples obtained from polluted environmental sources that were frozen and photographed showed crystal formations that were dark and distorted.
He then wondered if polluted thoughts and emotions could possibly affect human beings in a similar way noting that approximately 80% of our cellular makeup is water. His further research demonstrated that pristine water exposed to harsh, destructive, negative language then frozen and photographed showed crystal formations similar to the configuration of polluted water. Pristine water exposed to supportive, loving, positive language then frozen and photographed showed crystal formations of a spectacular nature. The message Dr. Emoto extrapolated from this research is that negative emotions effect the human body at the cellular level. Our cells can literally be affected by negative or positive feelings. No wonder it can take so long to forgive and heal.
Just think of what we are doing to ourselves by not managing these negative emotions and the expression of those negative emotions better. This goal is within each of our grasps. It takes a commitment to earnest personal work to change the way you view your world so that you can change the way you choose to respond to it. It could take years with many failures and successes happening along the way. Eventually, the successes will outnumber the failures. Just imagine the feeling of well-being you can experience by letting go of the need for anger. Just imagine…
Water, Consciousness & Intent: Dr. Masaru Emoto