Mopping up the Embers of Anger

Mopping up the Embers of Anger

When I think of anger, I think intensity.   A person is boiling mad! They are fired up!  Voices are raised, and blood pressure levels are elevated.  Doors are slammed and hateful words are spoken.  I grew up with a father who was known to have fits of rage periodically.  He was never physically abusive, but he showed several of the above mentioned outward expressions of anger. Those are not fond childhood memories.

A good friend of mine is married to an extremely sweet and soft-spoken woman.  Someone asked him if his wife ever got angry and raised her voice.  He didn’t recall her ever raising her voice, but he did tell us she could be literally silent for days on end!  Another expression of anger comes to the surface!

Not long ago I asked myself if I was still angry with a group of individuals.  I pondered that question in the privacy of my own thoughts for several hours.  Would I be inclined to raise my voice and express my anger to those people, if I encountered them today?  I answered that with a definite “no.”  I am no longer feeling that strongly.  Would I be passive aggressive, and give them the silent treatment?  I pondered that question too, and finally answered with another “no.”  But, am I still angry with them?  And the answer is?  Yes… A certain degree of anger lingers.

A vivid image of such anger came to mind.  I am no longer boiling mad!  The heat level has been reduced substantially, but glowing embers remain. The fire of anger has been doused.  But, stepping on the remaining members of a fire can still cause serious burns. And, even glowing embers are capable of causing untold destruction.

When a fire is nearly extinguished, firefighters employ a method known as “mopping up.”  It’s one of the final stages of fighting a fire to ensure that the flames do not reignite.  If firefighters fail to mop up, disaster can ensue. They could be faced with dousing flames once again.

How do you mop up the glowing embers of residual anger?  The answer to that question did not come in a matter of hours, but I do have a few ideas:

  • Admit to yourself that the embers are glowing.  It’s tempting to conclude that you are no longer angry at all, and that’s not true.
  • You don’t have to trust the people in question again in order to do a good mop-up job.
  • You don’t have to be friends with that person. 
  • Choosing to be kind to the people in question IS a part of the mop-up process.
  • Wanting the best for such individuals is another mop-up task.
  • Choosing to get up today and forgive them again is a major part of mopping up.
  • Making a conscious choice not to say hateful, sarcastic, or bitter things about the people in question has a way of cooling the embers down.

Firefighters consistently train on all aspects of dealing with fires of all kinds.  Learning to mop up is a task that all of us need to train on pretty regularly.  I admit that I still see the embers glowing…

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