Anger is a silly thing. It seems so effortless to become angry, act angry and remain angry in any given situation or at any individual. The most difficult aspect to anger is letting it go, completely and with compassion. Yes, you may forgive someone for something they did, but do you ever fully forgive them for upsetting you or making you feel angry in the first place? There may always be that underlying tension just waiting for the next time to bubble up to the surface.
In the spirit of Martin Luther King Jr. Day, I would like to share one of my favorite quotes from him (I could share many of my favorite MLK quotes, but that’s for a different time!). Mr. Martin Luther King Jr. once said:
“I have decided to stick with Love. Hate is too great of a burden to bear”.
The irony in this simple statement is quite comical as majority of people unconsciously chose to bear their burden of hate.
Anger that is left unchecked or ignored eventually transforms into a stronger version, such as resentment or hate itself. In his 2015 TED talk, Kailash Satuarthi said:
“Anger is within each one of you, and I will share a secret for a few seconds: that if we are confined in the narrows shells of egos, and the circles of selfishness, then the anger will turn out to be hatred, violence, revenge, destruction. But if we are able to break the circles, then the same anger could turn into a great power. We can break the circles by using our inherent compassion and connect with the world through compassion to make this world better. That same anger could be transformed into it.”
Love and compassion has the power to break the chains that anger and hatred hold on our hearts. Love can cut through the most hateful hearts and bring a light into even the darkest of souls. Martin Luther King Jr. understood the power behind love and chose the path of love and compassion to guide him through difficult or trying times.
Recently, I read a book for a book group at a local yoga studio (Yoga in ME), and I am so thankful I did. Author and life-changer, Brene Brown, explained in her book Braving the Wilderness that “people are hard to hate close up, move in”. That one sentence made me pause for quite a long time and thought about my levels of hate and how that hatred would be affected by proximity to that individual or situation. That simple, yet profound statement has such a true meaning that you almost want to be mad at it. Both Brene Brown and Martin Luther King Jr. have found success and peace in choosing love over hate.
With all the tragic events occurring, it is easy to get swept up in the sea of hatred that seems to be flooding the world and saturating hearts of many. Even as a practicing Yogi, I too find myself randomly angry or upset with a group of people or a situation that is occurring. But as Brene mentions, “we pay for hate with our lives, and that’s too big a price to pay”, and no amount of hatred is worth a human life.
The next time you find yourself in a hating position, do your best to recognize your angry emotions and take some time to dig down deep into the roots of those unpleasant feelings or thoughts. If it is a person, visualize zooming in on that person until they are right in front of you and then handle the situation from a loving and understanding perspective. Choose love.