While generally perceived as bad, anger is a normal and healthy emotion. It keeps us stimulated and ready for action under a threatening situation. It can be a life saver.
Of course, it is a very strong emotion. If not controlled and channelized properly, it can turn into the very opposite of what it is supposed to do, it can cause us harm. On a physical level, it induces high blood pressure and fatigue, on a psychological level, it induces stress and can leave us with a bad feeling. We usually repent actions taken under the influence of anger. On an emotional level, it hurts our relationships. And on a spiritual level, it causes us to disconnect from our Inner Self.
A lot of people suffer from uncontrolled rage. I too have had this problem, although I have gained more control over the years and occasions where I get angry have become infrequent. The response most ‘angry ones’ develop to their predicament, is that of a feeling of guilt. As a result, they try to curb their anger. But that is not such a good idea. Anger is a helpful emotion. It can not and should not be done away with. We have to let anger out. It is not curbing but channelizing that we have to focus on.
Do not teach your children never to be angry; teach them how to be angry. -Lyman Abbott
Here are a few tips to help you channelize your anger better.
1. Accept anger. When angry, accept that you are angry. Tell yourself, ‘The situation is frustrating and I am understandably upset. But this is not the end of the world and getting angry is not going to fix things anyhow.’
Accepting anger is the first step towards getting rid of it.
2. Use Assertiveness. You have to learn to let your displeasure be known. While using angry words is harmful, so is keeping your anger caged inside. Instead of trying to curb your aggression, try to convert it into assertiveness. Get your feelings known clearly and assertively.
This will require practice. Don’t wait till you get angry again. Start now. If you carefully observe, you are most probably holding back some bad feelings from different people, for fear of hurting them(a common reason for anger to come out in other situations). Start with these people. Let them know what is bothering you and try to do it as clearly and assertively as possible. It is OK if you are not very good at it in the beginning. You can not learn this in a day. But making a start is progress. With more effort, you will improve.
Anger ventilated often hurries toward forgiveness; and concealed often hardens into revenge. -Edward G. Bulwer-Lytton
4. Forgive, yourself and others. Practice forgiveness. It may be true that someone has wronged you. But it is also true that none of us is perfect. Carrying the weight of grudges and resentment will only make your own journey of life miserable. It harms you more than others.
Resentment is like taking poison and waiting for the other person to die. -Malachy McCourt
The same holds for yourself. If you made some mistake, let it go, you are just human. Don’t beat yourself up, take whatever lesson you are getting from the situation and move on.
5. Go slow. Don’t be impatient for results. The ultimate aim behind all our goals, is to find happiness. But if our pursuits rob our present of its happiness, then how worthy are these pursuits? Try to enjoy your journey to your goals as well.
6. Use humor to dissipate tension. If you can build the capability to make light of a situation by using humor, you will have a strength that few share. Humor is a potent killer of stressful situations and negative feelings, try practicing it more often, especially in difficult situations.
Be sure your humor is aimed at dissipating tensions, not the issues at hand. Some people use humor to sweep the whole situation, and the issues aside. As the second tip says, get your feelings known clearly. Once tempers are cool, take up the discussion further.
7. Change the ‘I must have’ attitude. Instead of saying, ‘I must have…’, say, ‘I would like to have…’. Usually angry people demand the fulfilment of their wishes. They believe that their demands are the most just and have to be met, at any cost. This is a very impractical and alienating attitude. You have to respect the needs and ideas of others too.
Make sincere efforts to try and understand what the other person is saying, what is their point of view. Understand and respect the fact that the person is also human and may have very justified concerns of his/her own.
Here is something interesting to try – Whenever you feel, ‘Things ought to go my way!’, imagine yourself as God going down a road. Imagine people bowing down before you. See how that changes your attitude.
8. Choose the right battles. Being assertive is about balance. Not every situation when you(or others) are angry, is a time to be assertive. Judge the consequences. Sometimes, it is better to just let go and move on.
I don’t have to attend every argument I’m invited to. -Author Unknown
9. Try to start with a disarming statement. When discussing, try to start with something like, ‘I understand you point and see why you are so agitated…’. Such statements diasarm the other person and create a conducive environment for meaningful talks. Make sure you mean it when you say it.
10. Assume responsibility. If you hold others responsible for your state in life, you will always find plenty of people to be angry at. Assume responsibility for your life and how you feel. When you do that, no one else has the power to affect your calm.
Anger can be channelized and used constructively. It can give you insights about what issues you are sensitive to, it can make your desire for change stronger and it can make you realize what you exactly want. It is for you to decide whether you will let it lead you to destruction or tame it for your good.