Imagine you’ve come to the end. You’re leaving this world, leaving your kids behind. Or worse, more unthinkably, your kids are leaving you. They’re off to college. They’re moving across the country. Time or distance or conflict separates you. They’ve been in an accident. You’ve both lived to ripe old ages, but they go first.
Is there any scenario in which, coming to this point of reflection, you think: I am so glad I so regularly got upset at them. I’m so glad I was so critical. I’m so glad we fought so much.
In fact, put all this aside. Have you ever once lost your temper with your kids and then afterwards thought, I’m so glad I did that? No, you felt bad after. You felt guilty after. You wished you had more self control. Almost immediately, the situation didn’t seem so big, the stakes didn’t seem so high.
Even if the issues were important. Even if things did need to be said. We just know, after, there was another way. There was a better way. Anger is a deceptive, destructive emotion. It is very rarely associated with anything that ages well, that we’re proud of. No, as the Stoics said, it blinds us, deceives us, betrays us.
And in turn, it makes us betray the people who trust us…and who we claim to love and want to protect more than anything.