I heard an expression recently that I’ve been turning over in my mind the past few days while simultaneously reading the Machiavelli and Sun Tzu editions of The Art of War: “Holding onto anger is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die.” I heard it from someone who was essentially telling me to let go of something that was bothering me, because it was doing more damage to me than to the entities at fault. It made sense at the time and is a convenient mechanism to be able to let go of whatever is bothering oneself, but I haven’t decided if it’s valid or not.
I’ve always been intrigued by responses to female aggression, and how they are so very different than responses to male aggression. Men are allowed and encouraged to be angry from time to time, as it reinforces their manliness. But when women show even the slightest bit of aggression it is cause for behavioral modification. “Your message would be delivered much more effectively if you could deliver it without getting defensive,” is the PC psychological device to convey this. This is usually true, and a good thing to consider regardless of gender. But it depends on the audience and the validity of the statement.
Sometimes it’s not true though. Sometimes anger is a really effective way to deliver a message. Sometimes you’ve gotta throw down. But this should be done sparingly and considered a nuclear option for optimal results.
Only with both those methods exhausted is it time to turn to the poison. Sometimes the other person will stop in their tracks and look at you in your poisoned state and realize the fault in their actions. Sometimes when you drink poison, the other person does die. However, you can’t just casually drink poison and expect success. If you reach for the poison too quickly or frequently, your opponent will cease to feel the effects while you continue to suffer, resulting in inevitable defeat.
I originally thought this was a Buddhist quote, but then I looked up the origin and found it’s first source was an AA manual from the 80s, so that makes sense. But this is neither here nor there in terms of validity.