Speak Not in Anger

Speak when you are angry and you will make the best speech you will ever regret.” Ambrose Bierce

Feeling anger is inevitable. What we do with our anger. . . is within our control. Even though in the heat of the moment it may not feel like it, we have absolute choice when it comes to how we express our feelings. The problem for many of us is that our anger builds speed and, like a fast moving train, it takes over. Our ability to think clearly and logically stops and we inevitably say things that we later regret. Whether it’s insulting someone or saying something just to hurt another, many of us use anger as an excuse to behave badly. Even when we’re proud of the zingers that come out of our mouth, when we recognize that we’ve hurt another with our caustic words, we regret our actions. And even when we encounter those people who don’t really ever feel badly about the anger they spew, they ultimately pay the price – they end up isolated, rejected and are so bitter that their lives are forever poisoned. If we could only videotape ourselves when we’re angry, many of us might think twice before we speak out of anger. We might be surprised by the snarl on our face or the actual words that we allow ourselves to say – words that we’d never use unless we let anger take over. And that is what it comes down to, anger speeches can come back and bite us because they’re irrational and sometimes even provide our adversaries with something to use against us. It’s just not worth it. What is important is that we instead work through what is behind our emotions. Anger is usually just fear or the resurfacing of an old wound. And when we address whatever is there, we can release our anger in a much healthier and productive way.

Weekly Path to Peace: Thinks before you speak.

  • This week when you find yourself angry, instead of yelling at someone or saying mean things, write it down. Don’t call the person, don’t confront them. Just write them a letter and don’t send it. If you really need to get it out, get a trusted friend to stand in and listen to your letter. Laugh about it. And then rip up the letter to let the anger go.
  • Next, spend time journaling about whatever you’re feeling. What is fueling your anger? Is it fear? Is it an old childhood wound? When have you felt similar feelings before? Trace them back and let yourself see that the thing you’re really angry about has nothing to do with your current circumstances. Notice how quickly your anger disappears.

As you begin this week, rate your level of happiness, self-esteem and self-confidence on a scale of 1-10, with 1 being not satisfied and 10 being very satisfied. Notice where you are Sunday evening after you do this week’s peace practice to see if there is a change.