“AHH, Why…” I sigh. “I hate it when this happens. Why didn’t you clean it!” I say angrily. I look down and see coffee marks all across the soft purple hoodie I am wearing. I put away the coffee grinder and grab a towel. In my frustration, I turn on the faucet. The steaming hot water soon after pours out and I dip in the towel. Almost burning my finger, but I don’t care. I am angry. “Why did nobody dry the coffee grinder?!” I shout inside of my head. My hoodie is completely ruined now, or at least that’s what I think. I let frustration and anger get a hold of me.
My mom is right behind me, drinking her coffee. She softly laughs and knows that I am exaggerating what has happened. I hate it when people laugh when I am angry. And thus I turn to her and in a grumpy voice, I say “Why didn’t you dry it! Now the water has mixed with the coffee and spilled out all over my new hoodie.” My mother just looks at me with a smile on her face. “I am sorry.” Is all she replies. She chuckles again, and I furiously look at her. “What’s so funny?” I ask. Still not understanding that I am getting angry over a few coffee stains on my hoodie.
“Well…” my mother pauses for a moment. “Why are you so mad? We can just put it in the washing machine and it will all be cleaned up.” She chuckles again and has a childish twinkle in her eyes. At that moment I realize, how absurd my reaction was. I smile at myself, and I feel the anger slowly drift away. I clean up the mess on my hoodie and the ground from spilling the coffee water that poured out of the just cleaned grinder. Then grab the grinder again and continue grinding. Completely forgetting that it’s still wet, and yet again a few drops of coffee water hit my hoodie. I sigh again, feeling the anger rise. But this time I instantly laugh, and as if of magic the anger drifts of like a kite in the wind.
Part One: Small Drips of Anger
Just like anyone else I get angry, quite often actually. Maybe a bit more often than necessary, and probably a lot more than others around me do. I’ve had some major fights with my mom, dad, and sister over insignificant things. This example is one of them. It happened this morning, as my mom and I grab a cup of coffee together. It feels like we are two colleagues meeting at the coffee machine. It’s often that we have conversations about our day and about what we are doing and the fun things we either hear on the radio or see on the internet. It’s a small moment of pure happiness to me. Simple, yet effective.
This morning that almost went completely south. I don’t know why, but in a second my mood completely switched from talking happily to my mom, to being extremely frustrated over the fact that there are coffee stains on my hoodie. I can now laugh about it, but I know that this has been a serious problem for me. It’s almost like an anger issue. I remember that last year during our summer holiday I had just bought this new thermos cup that I wanted to drink my coffee from. So I ground my beans and poured them into a French press. Added some boiling water, let it sit for a minute, and then pour it into my new thermos cup. I was so happy. I sat down next to my girlfriend, looking out over the fast Spain landscape. We sat down to read a book and toasted with our new coffee cups. I then wanted to take my first large sip of coffee and…
Well to keep it short. I got furious when I felt the coffee dripping down my hand and onto the pages of my book. There were coffee stains all over it, and if there is something I absolutely hate it is a stained and ruined book. I hate it when people fold the corners of their pages, or when they scribble random figures on the margins of the page. I also hate it when I spill coffee. Which seems to be a theme here. But at that moment I was furious at… Well, I am not sure at what or who I was angry. I think I was mostly angry with the broken cup, which seemed to be missing the leak-proof seal that had caused it to start leaking when I tried to take a sip from it.
It’s almost a year ago, but that morning is still freshly imprinted on my mind. I know how I let that one cup of coffee completely ruin my entire day. You might be wondering why? Well, I don’t have the answer to that either. I just know that I allowed a simple cup of coffee that spilled over a few pages off my book to completely ruin my joyful experience of that day. The same thing almost happened this morning again, when I spilled coffee over my hoodie. As a side note, it isn’t just coffee that causes me to get angry over insignificant things. These are just coincidences that are a perfect example of the lesson I want to share with you.
Anger obviously isn’t an emotion we want to feel for longer amounts of time, nor do we want to get angry over stupidly small things. Like spilling coffee, or hitting your toe to the side of the table, oehh or getting annoyed by the rain you have to go through on your way back from school or work. These are all small, insignificant, events that have caused major anger and frustration within me over the past couple of years. And here is why.
We all get angry at times, sometimes over big events, but also over these small insignificant events. I’ve come to realize that we get angry over small things because there is some larger anger problem residing in the back of our minds. We of course don’t get angry because we spill some coffee or because we add too much flour to the baking recipe. (Which has been a cause of anger for me too) We get angry because there is a larger problem underneath. Which most of the time is linked to wanting things to be perfect. In other words having high expectations, which can’t always be met. I had high expectations of my coffee cup, I expected it to be amazing, and when I noticed that it was leaking these expectations were harshly broken. Which caused me to get angry because I wanted everything to be perfect.
This is why we often get angry over small things. It’s like a bucket that has a tiny hole in the bottom. The bucket is filled with anger, and slowly the anger drips out caused my insignificant events. It’s not the dripping of anger that’s the problem. The real problem is that the bucket is completely filled with anger. The small drips of anger that leak from the bucket can cause our entire day to become filled with misery and discontentment. When all they want is to show us that we should empty the bucket of our pushed-away anger.
We never get angry over small things if we have emptied the bucket. We can just laugh about it, and see the insignificance of this small event. That’s what happened to me this morning. Over the past couple of months, I’ve been emptying my bucket of anger, pouring it out onto paper, or hearing it out during meditation. This didn’t stop me from getting angry over such a minor thing, but what it did do was allow me to quickly recover and see how silly it was to get angry over such a small insignificant event. It allowed me to make fun of what happened. And see that the reason I was getting angry over small accidents and events was that there was still anger within me that I hadn’t poured out yet.
Part Two: How We Can Empty our Buckets
What happened this morning has taught me the importance of emptying this bucket of anger. Because it allows me to mostly live a more peaceful and enjoyable life. If I hadn’t emptied the bucket I would have probably stayed mad over this insignificant event for the rest of my day. So how did I empty my anger bucket?
That’s the most important question. If we know that these small drips of anger are caused by bigger stored and pushed away problems we can start to release them. And stop allowing these small things to control our day. I’ve learned two ways to do this. One is by writing out all your anger, the second about meditating on your anger. So let me give you both ways I deal with this anger, so you can pick one that you like to use.
Using writing to pour out your anger The first thing I’ve been doing a lot over the past couple of months is writing out everything I am angry about. Things like stored up anger from my youth, often associated with small traumas or bad memories. But also about more recent events like the breakup with my past love or the anger of having to push past my own limits in order to finish college. All these are big events that have caused my anger bucket to fill up. To you, these are probably completely different events. The key for this writing exercise is to write out all the things you are angry about. Do not feel held back. No one needs to read this. You can scream in words, you can curse, and do whatever feels like the right thing to do at the moment. It’s something that helped me massively to have an outlet for my anger. But just letting out my anger in this way wasn’t enough. If I would have only let out my anger it would have only increased it.
This is often the misconception with anger. We know that it’s important to let our anger out. But getting angry with someone, cursing at them, or physically or mentally abusing another person or thing isn’t the solution. Letting your anger out and hurting someone else with it will only stimulate you to be angrier. Because by doing this you still don’t confront the root of the anger. You still don’t pull out the weed with the root and all. So that’s why this writing exercise has two parts to it. Once you have expressed all the things you are angry about, find the root of the anger. Find out why you are angry, and see how you can move past it. What’s the solution here. How can you transcend your anger? It’s like coming up with new creative ideas to me. I write down the cause of my anger, followed by a list of things I could do, or actions I could take to heal the anger and make a positive change. By writing out both the anger, the cause, and the solution you can clearly see the entire picture of your anger. Which allows you to move past it, which is the next part of this article.
Using meditation to pour out your anger Another exercise I’ve used is to meditate on my anger. Now this one isn’t for everyone because of the word meditation. Most people will think this is a weird thing to do. So if you don’t like it, that’s fine. I just wanted to share this with you because it’s a really powerful way of dealing with anger. To meditate on anger all you need is to sit down. To sit quietly in a room, and to feel the anger. You could do this at the exact moment that you get angry, or you could do it by recalling the event that causes you to get angry.
For example, I decided to sit down in meditation and think of the moment that I spilled my coffee over the pages of my book. I replayed that moment and felt the anger rising within me again. I just allowed the anger to be there. This is what it means to be alive. To feel it. I never push away feelings that I feel, because emotions need to be in motion. They need to flow. So when I felt the anger rise caused by the memory of spilling coffee I allowed it to flow. I noticed that my mind didn’t just stay with the memory. It flowed into past experiences. It showed me memories of me getting my clothes dirty and how my mother wasn’t happy with them. It showed me the moments in which my dad got angry with me. And all these passed memories I had been storing and pushing away unconsciously. These emotions are what caused the small drips of anger to leak. By meditating I allowed myself to feel the anger in a controlled and peaceful way. I didn’t feel connected with the anger and allowed myself to flow with it.
This is often an exercise that can help you deal with larger anger problems without getting furious and uncontrollably anger. Whereas the writing exercise often got me furious at times before resolving the anger issue. This is because you allow yourself to express the anger in whatever way you feel like. Things like cursing can increase anger, meditation on the other hand is more peace, yet uncomfortable and confronting.
Part Three: Don’t Let Anger Control Your Day
With these two exercises, I’ve emptied most of my anger bucket. The thing is I feel that we can’t ever completely empty our anger bucket. There will always be events that cause us to feel angry. The thing is, that when we have emptied the bucket, and know how to do so we can quickly let the anger spill out again. That’s what I did this morning as I got angry over the coffee stains on my hoodie. I at first got angry, but with the help of my mom, I laughed about it. I quickly let the anger spill out of my bucked, so that it wouldn’t control the rest of my day. Because this is often what we allow anger to do.
We allow anger to take over our entire day, sometimes even parts of our entire lives. Feeling frustrated, annoyed, angry, grumpy, and discontented all the time. Which isn’t really a life we all want to live, right? Anger will keep controlling your day if you don’t learn from it. If you don’t listen to what it is trying to tell you. You see, my anger over these small things just wanted to tell me that something was bothering me. Something of the past, something about myself and my life that I didn’t like. I wasn’t aware of this and therefore for a large portion of my life I allowed anger to easily take a grip of the wheel, steering me into moments I didn’t want to be in.
But all the anger was trying to show me is that there were things unhealed. That I had memories left in my brain that I was scared off. Things like angry parents, or mistakes I was ‘punished’ for in the light sense of the word. These memories can seem insignificant, but they can cause major damage if you don’t pour them out of your anger bucket. It’s not worth it to let anger have control over your day, your weeks, or your life. Neither over the relationships, you have with others.
Anger to me is a friend now, it shows me just what’s unhealed, or what is bothering me. And with that it allows me to live a more beautiful life. I stopped letting it control me and now, I often laugh about my anger. About the silly things I get frustrated about, or the silly things like spilling coffee over a book. These are insignificant, not worth it to get angry over. We can’t stop ourselves from getting angry, what we can do is allow ourselves to feel anger so that the emotions can freely flow and eventually pour out of our buckets.
So that our anger buckets are mostly empty and they won’t drip anger on silly and funny moments in our lives. Wouldn’t it just be amazing if you could laugh about accidents? About mistakes you made? Well, I’ve come to understand that we can. If we just allow ourselves to pour out our deep stored anger, and frustration. This allows us to live our lives. To feel alive. And to be able to say Today I Lived. I made the most of my day, even when I got angry for a moment.
Thank you dear reader. Have a lovely day.