Despite our efforts to avoid them, we all have bad days. Typically and for the most part, we suffer through them, deal with them and let them pass after a good night’s sleep. Remember I said that; it will apply later on in the post. But most people will actively do whatever they can to avoid bad days, despite the fact that they’re essentially unavoidable and a part of life.
Last week, I experience one of the worst “bad days” that I can recall in quite some time. What exactly happened to make it a bad day is not important (and I don’t need to come off like a snowflake for my woes) so much as how I dealt with it. Given everything I’ve been through in my life, I’ve prided myself on being able to maintain healthy tools to manage my emotions, more specifically anger. Please note that I said “manage” my anger and not control or suppress it.
Suppressing or bottling up one’s anger is a little like shaking a bottle of carbonated soda (something Nathan loves to do). Although the bottle will hold the soda, pressure will continue to build and gather until eventually the cap will pop and that pressure will explode outward, saturating everyone and everything near it. Anger is very much the same; if you don’t have a healthy outlet for it, it will eventually build up enough pressure to eventually burst and affect one’s entire environment.
Unless someone is close enough to me to have been told this fact, people believe I maintain my calm because I study the Buddha Dharma when in reality, I study to Buddha Dharma to help calm me. The difference is important because like any other living person, I feel and experience the entire spectrum of emotions and they affect me very much in the same way as anyone else. But it’s how I choose to deal with these negative emotions that’s important.
Just to be clear, anger, sadness and any other emotion labeled as “negative” still has a purpose, even if we dislike them and don’t assume so. Much like feeling fear let’s us known that we are potentially in danger, anger and disappointment tell us something about ourselves and the situation we’re facing that we may not have been aware of, otherwise. It doesn’t mean it isn’t normal to dislike being on those situations or that something shouldn’t be done about them. Cue the advice…
Meditation can be a fantastic way to help alleviate the effects of negative emotions. By entering oneself and allowing oneself to calm, breathe and focus on the lighter things, anger will often seem to lose its strength. This may not always be the case and may not work for everybody. But it’s definitely a good starting point. Finding the time and space to do this can be challenging, but never impossible.
Physical fitness is also an important aspect. Pushing yourself through a rigorous workout that can include martial arts or just hitting a good ol’ fashion punching bag can go a long way towards cooling the intense heat that your anger may have created within your soul. Even something that isn’t intense, like taking a walk, getting some fresh air and being alone with your own thoughts can be quite effective.
Sometimes there just isn’t anything that can be done and you have to just ride it out. This can be tough, especially if you’re already angry and you have to be in the same environment as loved ones and that anger become clear and obvious to them. An important step is not to bottle it up and isolate yourself. Letting those loved ones know WHY you’re angry is not only important towards making sure they know it isn’t directed at them but also pursues potential means of help as they could say or do something to provide relief from that anger.
Ultimately, sometimes all one can do is call it a day, hit the sack and get a solid night’s sleep in order to recharge one’s batteries and let one’s soul reset. This is what I did. Once I recognize I simply had no life left in me to deal with the day, I kissed my wife goodnight and let my head hit the pillow. In keeping with the mood I was in, a strong thunderstorm raged through most of the night. The next day was a new day with new challenges so I was grateful for having gotten the extra rest. Anger is a normal part of life. The idea isn’t to avoid it and the important thing is how you DEAL with it; and deal with it, you must. ☯️