In Marvel’s The Avengers (2012), the group asks Bruce Banner a few times how he’s kept his cool for such a long time without turning into “the other guy.”
Think about this question:
How do you keep your cool?
Maybe you’re not one to get uncontrollably angry, but perhaps you’re one to get undeniably scared, or nervous, or hesitant, or anxious…so much so it renders you immobile.
How can you keep your cool, under the pressures of the things that make you tick?
Well, how did Bruce Banner do it?
In the middle of the climactic battle, Captain America says to Bruce that now might be a good time to get angry.
“That’s my secret, Cap.
I’m always angry.”
Boom! Hulk smash! Hulk smash wisdom!
The secret to getting over the things that stop you, the things that overtake you and cause damage to you…
is that you don’t “get over” them.
You accept their existence.
You acknowledge them.
And just by doing so, you start to take away their power over you.
You start to figure out how to control them, how to use them to your advantage.
Because fear, anxiety, pain, all of it — it’s not something that eludes any of us.
The people you look up to and wonder, “how do they do it? How do they not have the fear or nervousness that completely paralyzes me? And if they did have it, how did they get rid of it?”
Those people are no more sophisticated than Dr. Banner.
They’re no less inclined than you to turn into “the other guy.”
But what separates those of us who appear to always “keep their cool” and those who seemingly just can’t do it, is that the former actually recognizes the impossibility of always “keeping their cool.”
It’s those that seek to never lose their cool that end up failing to do so.
So what does it take to move past the bad feelings?
Recognize them. Honor them. Feel them. Understand them. Take the time to appropriately deal with them.
Bruce Banner doesn’t keep the Hulk under wraps by letting tiny frustrations add up throughout the day, ignoring the anger building inside until it bursts out of control.
No. At every little frustration, he’s gotta take time to feel that frustration, validate it to himself, and let it pass, (I imagine).
And I imagine if the Hulk were to weigh in right now, he might offer these words:
You won’t like me when I’m angry, because I don’t like me when I’m angry. It’s not you, it’s not the aliens, it’s not the world that angers me…it’s me. I’m angry at me because I let myself spend too long ignoring how I felt and letting others stop me from being myself, or doing what I think is right, or living life more purposefully. All the times I deny myself the right to be human, those are the times that build up my anger and make me want to SMASH something.
But if I realize that anger is a part of life, and it’s okay to feel it sometimes, and even use it sometimes to help fight some crazy aliens and save the world…then I’m no longer a monster waiting to be unleashed.
I’m a hero.