Anger versus Bitterness

A friend of mine was telling me about her son and his baseball team today. She said they had won their championship game, and that her son had pitched beautifully. However, he had some difficulty hitting. As the team was celebrating their victory, her son was off in the distance, upset with his performance. He couldn't seem to shake it, no matter how she explained that he was missing out on all the fun, he had basically held the other team at bay with his pitches, and that the emphasis "should be" on the team rather than himself.

We have all had times when, although the outcome is desirable as a whole, we feel our contribution was lacking, or our performance was sub-par. Or perhaps the outcome was not desirable at all, and we feel it was largely due to our lack of preparation or participation.

She asked, "What would you do?" 

It's always been important to me that people are allowed to feel their feelings. So that got me thinking about a quote by the late Maya Angelou:

“You should be angry. But you must not be bitter. Bitterness is like cancer. It eats upon the host. It doesn’t do anything to the object of its displeasure. So use that anger. You write it. You paint it. You dance it. You march it. You vote it. You do everything about it. You talk it. Never stop talking it.”- Maya Angelou

It's OK that her son was angry with his performance. Anger can motivate us to do something differently, to change our approach for a better outcome. But there is a point at which we need to move past the anger, or it can morph into bitterness, which is counter-productive.

Eventually, her son came around. The next morning she woke, and he was dressed and ready for the batting cages.