Is your anger under control or is it “eating your heart”?
The ancient Egyptians had a rather complicated process by which they were allowed, or not, access to what we could now call “Heaven” after their death. Among other things, they had to approach the gods of the underworld with a series of negative affirmations: a recitation of all those things that they had not done during their lives. A kind of Ten Commandments backwards as in “I have not killed”, “I have not disrespected my parents”, “I have not stolen”. And one of the negative statements was “I haven’t eaten my heart.”
They certainly weren’t referring to literally (yuck!), But rather to the many emotional or mental ways in which we “eat our hearts”. One of the main ways to be anger.
This phrase caught my attention, as it is scientifically completely accurate. What the ancient Egyptians could not have known from modern scientific technology, but perfectly evaluated, is that anger literally “devours our hearts.”
Research shows that “healthy people who are often angry or hostile are 19% more likely than calmer people to develop heart disease. Among people with heart disease, those who generally feel angry or hostile fared worst. results than others. “
It’s easy to see how it works: When you’re in the grip of anger, fear, or other powerful negative thoughts and feelings, your heart rate becomes chaotic, erratic, and unpredictable, which means it’s no longer pumping blood in an orderly way for your cells. Such an altered heart rate has unpleasant consequences, such as high blood pressure, which in turn contributes to hardening of the arteries, strokes, kidney disease, and even the development of heart failure. Not to mention an early death: According to the CDC, the leading cause of death in the US is cardiovascular disease. Who needs that?
So yeah, those ancient Egyptians nailed it: anger eats your heart. But to be clear, it’s not that occasional “Aargh !!!” that we all experience that our hearts devour us. It is the anger of past hurts that you continue to feed day after day with resentment or guilt. It’s that slow burn of some perceived injustice that keeps you furious on the inside, even though your happy face is neatly glued on the outside. You are reacting too quickly and dramatically to ordinary frustrations in life.
Don’t eat the heart. Feel that initial burst of anger, sure, but as quickly as you can, release it. Express it appropriately, communicate your feelings as calmly and rationally as you can, and let it go. Practice meditation or mindfulness to help you navigate life from a quiet place. Do your best to give yourself and others the benefit of the doubt instead of getting irritated by whatever.
We’re all in this together, you know, and as hard as it is to watch at times, people (including you) are really doing the best they can right now with what they have from where they are. Better to feed your heart with appreciation for our shared humanity than to harbor anger, which in the end only dims your enjoyment of life and shortens it.