Anybody can become angry, that is easy; but to be angry with the right person, and to the right degree, and at the right time, and for the right purpose, and in the right way, that is not within everybody’s power, that is not easy.
Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics
On the Level 1 course during the section about neutralising negative memories I’m often asked these kinds of questions.
“What would happen if the negative emotion were given up, wouldn’t we end up being apathetic?”
“If I lost my anger over this issue I wouldn’t do anything about it, I need my anger to motivate me”.
My answer to this is to suggest that it’s still possible to change things without resorting to anger or frustration. That doesn’t sound completely convincing to most people. It’s almost a given in this culture that you have to be angry or frustrated about something to get things done.
I in a recent EFT Level 1 training I had an opportunity to explore this question for myself. I used a 20 year old memory of a news item in which Israeli soldiers were filmed using rocks to break the arms of stone throwing Palestinian youths. I remember being shocked, disgusted and very angry at the site of those pictures.
I wanted to write to the Israeli ambassador to complain about the injustice of it, but I didn’t do that, instead I grumbled about it and pushed the memory to the back of my mind. We used the EFT Movie Technique for resolving troublesome memories. A few rounds of tapping and we were done.
As I thought about the memory again, this time without the charge of anger I realised that the anger was appropriate at the time. It demonstrated a violation of my values and if I had followed it through, it could have propelled me into action. But I hadn’t done that, the opportunity had long gone, but the anger remained. This reaction was 20 years past it’s sell by date.
I suspect that people are carrying round with them an awful lot of anger that’s well past it’s sell by date. As I mentioned in an earlier post unresolved anger can turn up in physical problems.
How about the morality of this event. I still think it was the wrong thing for those soldiers to be doing, I’m not indifferent to it, but if anything I’m able to better appreciate both sides of the situation, before it was definitely bad guys vs good guys. Now I feel more balanced about it, better able to come to an appropriate response, rather than just reacting.