Today I learned that Abraham Lincoln had the most peculiar way of dealing with his anger.
What do most of us do when we are angry?
It’s so easy to just explode and lash out on what angers us, to just let all that passion flow out and deal justice to the offender. But how often is it that allowing to be provoked into a passionate rage resulted in so much damage that we often regret about it later on?
I know how damaging anger can be, and I regret all the times I let get the best of me.
Religious debates can get toxic quick, and during the discourse there will always be passionate arguments thrown by both sides. I have been in the middle of this arguments before, and I do find myself taking sides, and of course get caught up in the passionate exchange.
A hot head always gets the better of me, and even with the discourse ending, I would still feel terrible.
Getting riled up doesn’t end when the interaction ceases, it continues to eat away at me. And I would swim in so many thoughts:
- I should have said something different.
- He’s just too stupid to understand my point of view.
- I could punch him in the face right now.
- Let’s see how he handles what I have to say next time.
The problem makes me obsess about getting back if I lost, or I dwell in my hubris if I didn’t. And this would take away a lot of my mental capacity, and I wouldn’t be able to focus on things that actually matter.
But how do I deal with that bottled up anger? As a Stoic, I wouldn’t repress it. I have to deal with it and not let it control me. So learning about Abraham Lincoln’s method of dealing with anger is very refreshing, as it does give me a way of working out certain issues.
According to this New York Times article [LINK], Abraham Lincoln would sometimes become so infuriated at the people around him, that he would go and write down his frustrations, which are addressed to those people. But the great thing about this method is that he never sends them to the other party.
Lincoln has a medium where he can deal with his anger, without suffering the consequences of them. This may not solve the problem, but it does give way to getting rid of the frustrations and anger that could affect how he solves it.
A clear head is always needed when dealing with problems, and Lincoln knows this. Marcus sums up the message with this quote:
“Another has done me wrong? Let him see to it. He has his own tendencies, and his own affairs. What I have now is what the common nature has willed, and what I endeavor to accomplish now is what my nature wills.”
— MARCUS AURELIUS