Can You Control Everything in Your Life or Not?
I knew him as an angry person for a long time. He used to be angry for weeks or even longer, for the sake of somebody’s behavior, or for the sake of every situation you can imagine.
But, he wasn’t a bad guy. When he was angry, he wasn’t furious, aggressive, or rude, just sad and quiet, suffering from the inside.
The anger always had a message. I knew that something was happening in his life that he didn’t like. I knew him very well, and I can say we were friends.
“You know, Jim (not his real name), I’ve read something in the newspapers on the subject on the anger. Would like to read it?” I said the other day.
“No,” he responded, refusing to give an explanation.
“You know, Jim, the statistics in the article were frightening; the men with the highest anger scores were at the greatest risk for developing heart disease. As a friend, I just want to bring to your attention how dangerous to your anger is to your health.
I mean, anger is a signal from the brain, and it makes sense to learn what the source of the anger is. It is not easy to know what it is that you are angry about.”
“It’s none of your business,” was his answer.
“It is not about `business matters,’ Jim, it’s about health. I understand and accept that we do not have direct control over our emotions, but we do have control over how we behave. I know you are a good father and husband. I don’t know, maybe your anger is rooted in controlling everything in your life. Could you be in less control and less protective to your family? Less control over their life can save you the troubles and unhappiness.”
“No, I love my family, and there is no way to change my approach to them,” was his angry answer.
“No Jim, overprotection is not an expression of love; it is expression of control. Please, accept that you simply can’t control everything in life. Do not play the role of God and don’t believe in yourself too much; the outcome doesn’t always depend on your expectations. Too high expectations of your family give you only anger and unhappiness.”
“Do you want me to lower my expectations of my family?” asked angry Jim.
“Yes, I am asking you to do just that. Lower your expectations of others, and you will be free of anger, Jim. Never stop adapting to a new transition in life with fewer expectations and less overprotection. Stop being your own worst enemy. There is so much wisdom in you that you can use when you choose to listen to advice.”
“Are YOU now playing the role of God?”
“You are simply wrong, Jim. My intention to help you is just a part of my personal belief in the circles of kindness. Many years ago, a friend of mine told the same story to me, and I believe I succeeded to get rid of my anger. Suppressing anger is not good for your health, either, but could you try not to get so angry so quickly? Could you learn to channel your anger into more acceptable feelings? Try to make a balance with expressing and accepting your feelings, exploring options and choices.”
“You know what,” said Jim. “Helping me, you are actually helping yourself, and I don’t like it. I don’t want to manage my anger. I know what I am doing, and I don’t need your advice. You understand me?”
“I’ll respect your desire, Jim. Whatever I do, I am not looking for any rewards or respect. You are right: doing good things feels good, but any credit is not important to me. Being there for someone in a time of need is perfectly acceptable to me.”
When Jim died, I was out of the country. I tried to come on time to Jim’s funeral, but I couldn’t. My plane was late; I lost the next flight and got stuck for 10 hours at the air port waiting. I was so down; I couldn’t do anything for many hours. I was sitting quietly, watching the people around me. Suddenly, I noticed a young mom with two small children. She was so impatient and angry with her children. I still can hear her yelling.
I don’t know why, and I have no explanation for my decision to approach her.
“Excuse me, madam, my friend Jim died yesterday.”
“Yes, madam, my ALWAYS ANGRY friend has died of heart attack.”
She didn’t say anything.
When I was on the plane, I saw the young mom. During the long, 8- hour flight, she was so patient and calm and never raised her voice to her children.
After we arrived at our destination, before we left the plane, she turned around and said, “Sir, I’m sorry to hear about your friend . and thanks for your advice.”
Rest in Peace, Jim.