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Destructive emotion

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Sir: “I disappointed myself, my family and friends, my colleagues and even my bosses, those who hold me in high esteem…”  Former Aviation Minister, Mr. Femi Fani Kayode’s remorseful, regretful and repentant words as Nigerian media pounced his flesh for arrogantly calling Daily Trust reporter, Eyo Charles a stupid man almost a week ago. To call a journalist, stupid, for doing his job is considered the most sacrilegious, height of arrogance and a blatant disregard for the fourth estate of the realm, thus the bashing, the spanking and the flogging. But how does a harmless, simple though profound question infuriated then altered Mr. FFK’s thought, mood and emotion within a split of second that he lost his cool, vent uncontrollable anger and hurl stones of insult and umbrage on that innocent man? Questions are powerful, the right one can expose a system same way it seeps under FFK’s skin. But what changed? From a normal chitchat with journalists to fire and fury then to national outrage and condemnation all within some days? 

In Nichomachean Ethics, Aristotle contented that anyone can become angry — that is easy. But to be angry with the right person, to the right degree, at the right time, for the right purpose and in the right way — this is not easy. When Aristotle made this assertion almost 200 years ago, no one would have thought of the relevance of his aphorism in twenty first century. 

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But as it turn out, calming one’s nerves when pissed off is not just the best piece of advice at this time but the most important to give and to receive from anyone both for one’s mental, physical and emotional health. This is because anger with Welter of evidences pointing to its destructive tendency has caused much of human sufferings with it ripple effects on the world peace and the peace of individual. In their book titled, Destructive Emotion, His Holiness, Dalai Lama and Daniel Goleman averred that there are 20 derivative mental afflictions, first on the list is: anger. Mahatma Gandhi must have thought of this when he declared: An eye for eye makes the world blind. As it turns out, peace both intrinsic and extrinsic is now a priceless and precious jewel the world longed for. This brought us back to the FFK’s outburst.  Martin Seligman says, “anger has three components: There is the thought, a very discreet and particular thought: I am being trespassed against.

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There is bodily reaction. Your sympathetic nervous system and your muscles mobilise for physical assault. Your muscles tense. Your blood pressure and heart rate skyrocket. Third — this is what the first two phases ready you for — you attack. Your attack is directed towards ending the trespass — immediately. You lash out. As earlier pointed out, much of human sufferings are caused by destructive emotion with anger at the peak and as shown in FFK’s apology, the consequences of uncontrolled anger can both be devastating and depressing. 

While swathes of cosmetic medications abound on how to tame the monster called anger, Martin Seligman believes curative approach exemplified through meditation, mindfulness, proactively and appointment with therapist are the best, the proven and the tested method to escape this destructive conundrum.
•Muftau Gbadegesin wrote from Ibadan.

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Femi Fani-Kayode
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