Book Review: Anger, Wisdom for Cooling the Flames

Thich Nhat Hanh is one of my favorite spiritual authors. His words are soothing and simple. I can feel his kindness eminate through his writing.

His book Anger: Wisdom for Cooling the Flames has been especially important to my self-healing journey. In this book he teaches how to have compassion for yourself when dealing with the heavy emotional weight of anger. 

There is of course no quick fix for most of life’s big problems, and dealing with anger is no exception. The seeds of anger are often planted during childhood and remain hidden from our conscious view for many years. Each time we become angry those seeds are watered and the tree of anger grows within us. A tree is a much harder thing to remove than a seedling, and so it is with long-held anger, it’s  real son-of-a-bitch to get rid of!

My favorite part about this book is that in its simplicity it offers hope. Just because we have allowed the seeds of anger to grow in us does not mean we have to live out our lives as angry people. He teaches us to separate who we truly are from the anger we carry. This objective view of our emotions is helpful when it comes to altering our behaviors. We can take the same approach with the thinking mind, learning to step back and form an objective view of the happenings of the mind. Most of our human suffering stems from overidentification with the mind. 

Thich Nhat Hanh suggests we view our anger like a baby who is crying for attention. Instead belittling ourselves because of our anger, which only serves to feed the problem, he suggests a more compassionate and gentle approach. When angered we must learn to self soothe, in much the same way we soothe an infant who is having a hard time. 

The reason it is so important to address anger is obvious to anyone who has ever done something they regretted while in an angry state. Anger robs us of our higher mental functioning. When we are angry the animal part of ourselves takes control, and depending on how much we have fed our anger we may lose control completely. The things we regret doing in a state of anger can lead to shame and guilt. All these unresolved, painful emotions can build up over time and damage our self esteem and our relationships. 

If you want to understand your anger better, and learn simple techniques for howto resolve that anger then I suggest reading this beautiful book. You can order it on Amazon or check it out at your local library and start healing your pain with mindfulness and self compassion.