April 24 • 10:17 AM

Handle those 'hot coals' with care

July 25, 2007
"Holding onto anger is like grasping onto a hot coal with the intent of throwing it at someone else. You are the one who gets burned.''

There it was—another quote worth remembering—on the whiteboard next to the adjustment table at Dr. Clendenan's.

What was this? A twofer? An attitude adjustment along with a spinal adjustment—both for the price? Or was it just a nugget of wisdom one of the staff had randomly picked from a book of pithy statements?

It could have been either, or both.

Perhaps it was holistic medicine at its best. Not that it's always true, but there's evidence for there being a connection between the hanging onto of anger, or bitterness, or resentment, leading to a physical unwellness. Some of us don't feel we can let go of that hot coal without a good, effective wind-up before we hurl it. Guess who gets hurt most while we handle it that long, and then end up dropping it short of its mark? Dis-ease, if you will, sometimes results from an internalizing of an emotion which hurts only the person who carries it around, while the other person—in the words of one author—is out playing golf. The hurt just sits there, going deeper and immobilizing the person who holds onto it. Sometimes the poison spreads to those close by as the toxicity gets bigger than the person carrying it around. Mini volcanic eruptions happen; the poison seeps to hurt those in closest proximity rather than hurting those at whom the original anger was aimed.

Anger is not always wrong, mind you, but the injunction to deal with it in a timely manner, ie. by day's end, is not for naught. In the name of being "slow-to-anger" people, some of us have to admit to having done, instead, what could better be called slow-burns. We've thought we weren't angry folks. Because we didn't "hurl the hot coal," so to speak, we've thought we were gentle and forebearing. We've waited for just the right moment and just the right place to say just the right words, and have eventually sometimes gotten it all wrong anyway, at which time we've realized it would have been much better for everyone involved had we just handled our situations quickly. Instead, we've been like dud firecrackers, fizzling and sizzling ineffectively...only to eventually erupt after all, causing untimely, pent-up, injury-causing explosions.

Bottom line—anger is a valid emotion—to be handled carefully.

A little introspection of our anger-management techniques could be time well spent.

Castle Creek
04 - 24 - 19
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