The other day I was teaching my son how to drive. He was doing great, making his turns well, slowing and stopping at appropriate times and staying in his lane. Then, toward the end of his driving lesson, he got distracted. By what I don’t know, but it was enough to cause him to start swerving all over his lane. Probably a girl…
Finally after he ran over the sidewalk, I made him pull over. We both got out and met near the back of the car.
I immediately went into scolding mode. “What were you doing? You weren’t even paying attention!”
That’s when he did something I had never seen him do before. He raised his hands, ready to hit me.
“Oh no, you will not.” I firmly told him.
He lowered his hands, but as soon as I opened my mouth to continue speaking, he lifted them up again in anger. I was shocked; so upset with him and in disbelief at what I was seeing. He had never done anything like that before. It didn’t even seem real.
That’s because it wasn’t. It was a dream.
Whew! Good thing too, because otherwise that boy would have been grounded for months.
When I awoke the next morning and remembered the dream, I became very thankful. Not only because it was just a dream and my son could go on living (haha), but because anger is an emotion that I’ve rarely seen in him.
By now, at the age of 16, he should have been angry on many occasions. But, he hasn’t been. In fact, I can only recall one time when he was truly angry and had an outburst. Even then, his outburst was minimal and short-lived.
That’s one trait, among many, that I’ve learned is a benefit of my son having autism. He doesn’t know anger. He doesn’t allow things or people to get him riled up. He’s calm. He’s patient. When he does get frustrated or disappointed, it only lasts a moment. He never lets it ruin his day, or even the next hour. It’s not worth it to him.
That is one quality that I wish all people had, myself included. Too often we allow things and people to ruin our day. We let our anger stew for hours. We rant. We stomp. We ignore. Some people throw things, punch walls and become violent toward others. We allow anger to eat at us from the inside.
Instead of holding onto anger, what we should do, is learn to let things go. Is it worth it? Is it really that important? Will it matter two years from now, or even tomorrow? Probably not, and in most cases situations resolve themselves.
Getting angry and acting on that anger fixes nothing. It can however, make the situation worse. When we’re angry, we say things that shouldn’t be said. We make rash decisions. We do foolish things. Many times, these are all things that we later regret. But, we can avoid this by staying calm and being patient.
Anger is an ugly emotion. Not only when seen by others, but also when felt internally. Don’t let it consume you.
If my son were to teach this lesson, he’d likely say: Don’t get angry. It’s not worth wasting your time over. Plus, there’s too much fun to be had! So, let it go and go have fun!