You Can’t ‘Get’ Angry… If You Already ‘Are’

In Boston, a number of years ago, a woman who had come to hear me give a talk on resentment came running up to the stage beforehand to speak with me. She brought my attention to a long-deceased but still a popular 12-Step Fellowship member who had written a book titled You Can’t Make Me Angry.

I recall thinking that surely the author of that book is someone who has discovered the truth and been freed from anger. 

I told her person, “See? I’m not the only one who experiences this stuff.” We had a good laugh.

Later, she took me aside once again to further explain that I had gotten it all wrong… that what the author meant was not that he had become free from anger, but was instead suggesting that his anger was self-induced rather than people-induced.

His real, unspoken motto SHOULD have been, “You can’t make me angry because I already am!” He still got angry—by his own doing. What a letdown.

He was not free from anger at all but had adopted an ages-old device for its suppression. An all-too-common, very dangerous, and usually fatal practice. 

The truth about anger, people, and the Ego-Self had eluded this poor man—a pillar in the recovery community—just as it eludes most people. Despite the high regard he’d managed to garner within the 12-Step recovery fellowships, this foolish fellow just was not ‘there,’ yet he’d written a book about it as though he had discovered something marvelous.

Despite idealistic fantasies to the contrary, no one can simply make up their mind to feel or to think a certain way—in safety.

Wresting words and suggestions coming through the thought-stream into positive ideas, then attempting to manage the emotional energies those thoughts transmit, is an extremely dangerous pastime.

It may seem to work for a short while, as old thoughts are deliberately superimposed by new thoughts. But soon the negative forces which negative thoughts carry still feed the ravenous ego.

And though on the surface we may appear serene and “in control,” a rising Self begins to emerge as a narcissistic, pleasure-seeking ogre. It kills us.

Ninety-nine percent of every person reading this right now is under the mistaken belief that anger is normal, that it’s “only human,” that everyone gets angry and always will. They hear it from psychologists, clergy and even the voice in their head calls it inescapable “reasoning,” an inevitable emotion. It is the big lie.

Unless we get free from anger, develop a hardiness to resentment, we cannot live well on this plane, and will not live at all in the next.

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  1. Brad Mikon on September 17, 2020 at 2:51 am

    Hey Dan,

    What about “You can’t get anger if you already HAVE it?”

  2. Daniel Schwarzhoff on October 11, 2020 at 4:16 pm

    That’s a good way of putting it too. I have to be a ‘little’ careful. Many people have no idea about their judgment and believe the bitterness that’s inside them originates with them. And for that reason never have the hope of getting free of it and will simply project it into others — as was done to them. Much more contagious and deadly than COVID-19. Start talking that way and brains explode. Thanks, Brad.

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