Keep my anger from becoming meanness

When it comes to anger, our relationship status is “it’s complicated.” 

(To be fair, that’s been my relationship status for most of the last decade, but that’s a topic for another day and another blog. Probably an anonymous one.) 

I’m one of those kids who grew up around some other peoples’ anger and outbursts, and I never really learned how to have my own. Instead, I got good at sarcasm, cynicism, and passive-aggressive behaviour. I also became well-practiced at staying calm through tough, big-deal things and then losing my mind about something small. 

As I’ve been learning that those patterns are worse in the long run than just admitting to anger, I’ve tried to feel the emotion. And hey! What good timing! If you’re trying to practice being angry, there’s a lot to choose from these days.  

Here’s the catch though. It’s one of those emotions that needs to be processed. 

I’m thinking about it like cough syrup. Here goes: If you have a bad cough that could be addressed by cough syrup, but you avoid the medicine because it tastes bad, you’re going to feel sick for longer than you need to. If you accept the cough syrup will help and pour the portion into your mouth and hold it there without swallowing, you’re going to keep feeling sick and you’re going to have a horrible taste on your tongue. For the medicine to do its job, you need to drink the damn syrup, let it do its thing, and let it exit your body. 

These days, I’m holding the cough syrup in my mouth. Which means…it tastes disgusting…and I’m still coughing. (Metaphorically, of course. I’m not really coughing. I don’t have covid. Settle down.)

So, when someone I met at work shared this prayer with me the other day, it resonated. And since I’m not alone when it comes to dwelling in my anger, I hope it might resonate for you too. 

Keep my anger from becoming meanness.

Keep my sorrow from collapsing into self-pity.

Keep my heart soft enough to keep breaking.

Keep my anger turned towards justice, not cruelty.

Remind me that all of this, every bit of it is for love.

Keep me fiercely kind.

Laura Jean Truman

The whole thing reminds me of the time I tried to convince myself, and all of you, that everyone is doing the best they can. I still struggle with that. And honestly? I’ll probably struggle with the words above too. 

But can you imagine how much better the world would be if we all tried? 

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