No man can think clearly when his fists are clenched.

– George Jean Nathan

There is evidence of this fact. Studies have shown that we lose the ability to think straight when engulfed in anger.

Our ability to function at our highest level of cognitive thought diminishes immensely. We are left with reactionary instinct, which usually leads to rash decisions.

Can you recall a moment when you’ve said something in the passion of the moment that sliced through your opponent? I can, and not with any appreciation or pride.

What stings my heart is the hurt that devoured their being and soul. Because that’s what happens to those who stand against us when we’re saturated in anger.

They become an opponent – someone to conquer, battle, and overcome.

They are no longer our loved ones, friends, or co-workers. They are no longer humans that have feelings, thoughts, and history. They are the enemy, and they must be destroyed.

Then there’s the belief that if we do charge ahead in the throes of our reactionary self, we can come back and fix what we laid asunder.

Sometimes this is true, but sometimes it’s not. Sometimes we lose what we so desperately cherished because we were angry and threw verbal punches.

With all this evidence, study, and even personal experience, are we quick to pause, assess, and take the best action needed for the situation?

Maybe. Maybe not.

I have several memories from years past where I wish I’d known how to respond differently.

I wish I had paused and considered what I felt, needed, and could do without. Considered the importance and impact of my words and the best way to deliver those words, boundaries, or intentions. And then implemented them with the knowledge that I couldn’t force someone to my will.

Forcing someone to my will doesn’t allow for a healthy and loving relationship. Or with myself, because let’s be honest, the one person I’m most intimate with is me. I need to have a loving relationship with myself, too.

And trying to force another into doing what I want has always had disastrous consequences for me, whether immediate or not.

Today, I have more moments of pausing, assessing, and responding instead of reacting. Those moments have taken time and practice.

I’ve had to cultivate the willingness to look outside myself for ideas, suggestions, and answers on how to respond differently. To not let my anger run amuck, unsupervised and wild.

When I clench my fists, I know to breathe, pause, and consider the situation. This way, I don’t jump head first into the worse decision I could make.

Most things are not as urgent as my mind likes to tell me. There is always time, even a few minutes, to unclench and seek solutions rather than create more problems.

Image Source: Flickr

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