Many people would like to get rid of anger but do not know how. This is often because despite its inner and outer consequences, anger is frequently chosen over its possible alternatives which are deemed to be more painful. What are these alternatives, and why would one choose anger above them?
In a general sense, at the root of all anger is helplessness. One might say that at least some of the time the sense of helplessness is a perceived sense rather than a reality. Or, one might say that if one were in right relationship to life and God there would be a way through the helplessness which is a legacy of the sense of separation from the Divine. Indeed, both of these statements would be true. Neverthless, on the level of human experience, to undo anger and to approach a deeper level of truth, one must be willing to experience the underlying issues of helplessness and fear that one is warding off. This does not mean giving these feelings full power over the self. Nor does it mean that one must stop acting in self-caring ways and instead become passive. Rather, helplessness must be uncovered as an inner perception of how things are or were.
People choose anger because anger feels like it empowers the self. It reduces the feeling of helplessness and conveys both the desire and often the capacity to 'do something' about whatever is troubling. Often, however, the success of such a strategy is an illusion, since anger generally begets negative consequences either from the environment or from within oneself.
In the context of a spiritual framework, the uncovering of the feeling of helplessness needs to be accompanied by a willingness to give the helplessness to God, and trust that no matter what the circumstance, peace, hope, and healing can take place. This is possible because healing does not depend on things changing on the outside but on the inside.
These things are simple to say but often difficult to put into practice for those who have chosen anger as the safer way to live. Trust that letting go of anger will leave things alright is sometimes a difficult belief to acquire. Often, profound helplessness has been experienced in relation to dealing with circumstances that could not be changed, people who could not be changed, or the limitations of life as a whole over which one has had little or no control. Each of these things, when faced directly, can evoke a great deal of pain. For this reason, it is easy to see why one would want to choose anger and to protect against its alternatives.
Nevertheless, and despite these reasons, helplessness does not require defenses. In the presence of the feeling of vulnerability, it requires a relationship with God and a relationship with pain which allows it to be held with compassion and trust. Such compassion and trust allows the self to know that even in the presence of pain, one is alright and upheld from within.
Helplessness is not weak, nor is it bad, nor is it passive. It is part of the human experience in a state of perceived separation from God. Its strength lies in its honesty and in the relationship it creates with the Divine. Out of this relationship comes an understanding of the highest possible response to life in the way of action or non-action. This understanding applies to those situations which would formerly have been met with anger. Out of this relationship with the Divine also comes compassion for all that exists in limitation.
To undo anger, one must replace it with trust and with the desire to learn a new relationship with life. Having seen its purposefulness as a defence and also the negative consequences for oneself and others, one can choose to face the feeling of helplessness more openly. One can choose to live from a deeper truth.
Out of this choice may come the decision to lay down ones arms and armaments and to become like a little child again. Most children feel and are small and helpless without a sense of endangerment. They feel trustful and they feel protected. In a similar light, with the innocence of a child, one can learn once again to find a substitute for anger, and a new way of living that is more open and free.