“Anger is an acid that can do more harm to the vessel in which it is stored than to anything on which it is poured.” - Mark Twain
Have you ever used anger as fuel towards achieving your goals? I have for sure. I actually used to have a pre-race ritual in college that involved me looking around at my competition and imagining that they doubted me.
I would use those thoughts and convince myself I was not only the underdog but a disrespected competitor. Similar to the Michael Jordan line of thinking I would use any small slight in conversation and interaction to get an edge to run angry. For my entire 12-year running career that’s what I did and you know what? It worked for me…. NOT.
Yes I stumbled upon this at an early age and I actually did very well with race anxiety because of it, but the anger route was so toxic that I had to be the complete opposite person when it wasn’t racing time. Many of my college teammates will tell you (mainly make fun of me) that I was the most talkative / nicest guy in the conference”.
I had many acquaintances on other teams with guys who would race the mile and 800 like I did. I’d always say hello to them and made sure I wished them all the best in their running and personal lives. Looking back on it that’s actually how I wanted to be with the people I competed against and that’s why I went almost a little overboard with the casual chatter at meets. To me, it was a way of making up for the internal negative thoughts I’d have towards them.
All the interactions may have been genuine but the reason they were so frequent was that the acidic nature of my anger would wear on me. I wanted to almost cleanse myself of that and be free of the anger that wasn’t genuine.
If I could go back and change anything about my running career it would be to find a better anxiety coping mechanism than anger. If you’re younger than I and reading this, try to use Stoic practices and even meditation to calm your anxiety for any high-level stressor. Anger is never the answer as even I had to strip it away after every time I used it.
Have an awesome week!
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“Holding on to anger is like grasping a hot coal with the intent of throwing it at someone else; you are the one who gets burned.” - Buddha