There are days when I wake up feeling angry and negative, for no fathomable reason. Good are the days when the feeling passes and I am chirpy for the rest of the day, but then there are those days (especially before that time of the month), when I pity Mr. P. Sometimes, he has no clue why I am angry. In my defense, neither do I. As humans, we all experience various emotions, anger being one of the basic ones. Experts say that anger is healthy, just like joy and fear. But, what happens when we lose control of anger? It doesn’t take too long for the situation to become dicey and things don’t remain all that healthy after that, for the person expressing the anger and for the recipients.
Sadhguru says, “Anger must be a very beautiful thing, because a lot of people have taken onto it.” It seems to be true, doesn’t it? Especially considering the numerous stories we hear of people acting out on their anger. Even small kids these days have anger issues and it makes me wonder what brings on such an intense emotion at such a young age. What is anger? Anger is, “an emotion characterized by antagonism toward someone or something you feel has deliberately done you wrong.” I guess there are different types of anger and different ways in which people express it, but in the end it boils down to the intensity of the anger and whether a person holds on to it as a grudge or expresses it effectively. Holding on to anger is definitely a wrong choice, because as The Buddha has said, “Holding on to anger is like grasping a hot coal with the intent of throwing it at someone else; you are the one who gets burned.”
There was a time when I would get angry at the drop of a hat. Those of you who haven’t seen that side of me, trust me, I had a really short fuse. I was the type who would yell, throw things (occasionally) and slam doors. Who was at the receiving end of most of this? My parents of course. By the time I got married and found someone new to direct my anger at, I had stopped slamming doors; the yelling continued for many years and yes, I was never the only one yelling. Just today morning he said something and I glared at him. In response, he said, “mookathaanu shundi” (direct translation: anger is on your nose; meaning: you get angry in an instant). It was something silly, so the glare instantly cooled down. As I had mentioned in The Connection Between Fighting, Making Up and Food, our fights today are mellow. I would be lying if I say that we have learned to control our anger, because we do still get angry at each other and others. The difference, though, is in the manner in which we handle and direct our emotions.
It is healthy to express emotions instead of bottling it all up, especially negative emotions like anger and hatred. Accumulating anger has its own physiological side effects, like increased heart rate and elevated blood pressure among other things and if you don’t do anything about it, you might end up creating a life long relationship with the side effects of anger. Experts say that there are three ways of dealing with anger: “expressing, suppressing, and calming.” Expressing it without aggression, suppressing and directing it to something positive (for instance, I have found that listening to music, writing, or even washing dishes can be therapeutic), and calming down by practicing breathing exercises, mediation, yoga etc. And if nothing works, there is always the option of seeking help from trained therapists who can help you work through your anger issues to come out feeling better.
At this stage in my life, I believe that I have crossed the aggressive phase and have learned to direct it to other channels. Meditation (though erratic), regular walks, and some amount of self-restraint seem to be the tactics that are working for me now and I hope that if I keep up these practices, I can be even more calm and composed in the future, much to the pleasure of people around me and most importantly, myself.
How do you deal with anger; have you found a strategy that works best for you? Do share!