Even when something enraging happens, violence will get you nowhere. It will make things worse. Reacting subconsciously on the basic animal level is useless. We are people.
So, how did my recent story —How To Blow Off Steam— come to be? First of all, no couches, pillows, or any other inanimate objects were “harmed” at any point in time. Needless to say, neither were any living beings. It all went on in my mind because I was faced with a life-or-death type of situation.
No, my life wasn’t in danger. The lives of my children, my sister, and my mother were.
All four of them were involved in a car accident abroad. It was caused by the driver of another car. He tried to make a right turn from the left lane traveling 120 kilometers an hour. Miraculously, no-one died. However, my sister flatlined during surgery. She was resuscitated and is now on a long journey back to normal living.
When I first learned of the accident, the scariest part for me was not knowing if anyone was still alive.
The information about what actually happened on the ground came via third, fourth, or even fifth parties. The stories were different and that only prolonged my agony. I really didn’t know what to make of it. One of the most prominent thoughts in my head was about “the bastard who did this.” It’s a violent thought. I imagine any human being would be dealing with something similar in a situation like mine. I had to put it to rest somehow or else I was going to pass out from stress.
It was about two weeks later when I realized how much the anger with “the bastard” affected me psychologically and physically. I heard he was also confrontational at the site of the accident and, supposedly, didn’t care that there were little kids involved. That infuriated me even more. Still, this wasn’t a useful thought to carry around in my mind.
I think I described to my mother that it was like trying to “beat” the responsible party for nearly killing my entire family. It was exhausting. So, I sort of redirected that energy into imagining a “pillow beating” instead. The silliness of this idea diffused some of the anger, and pretending to pound a decorative accessory helped satisfy the need to “beat.”
Later, I also acknowledged to myself that I continued to feel for other people. Even when other people are like the dumb ass driver, I found myself arguing for leniency. I don’t know what it would take to engage me physically — seems like it would take a whole lot. My mother must have done a phenomenal job developing empathy in me.
In retrospect, the way not to be violent is to redirect the aggression onto anything that doesn’t end up hurting you or others. If it’s imagining “a good old fashioned beating” then so be it.
Feeling for others is the key to avoiding harming them. It is something that must be taught from early childhood.