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Monday, December 28, 2009

Anger Management

Have you ever shouted at a cow or a dog who stepped in front of your car right out of nowhere and your prized possession barely escaped getting scratched or dented. What’s more, you narrowly escaped hurting or killing an animal, the guilt of which would have lingered in your subconscious for a long time to come. Chances are you cursed and you cussed but did not get out of your car to give a piece of your mind to the four-legged one. If anyone did, get out of the car, to explain the traffic rules to the animal, you really need help.

Has anyone shouted at God almighty when things don’t go your way? I did once but to no avail. He had too much patience and control over his anger and did not bother to respond to my threatening pleas.

How many times has it happened that you saw something wrong going on but did not react telling yourself that there is no reason to bother, since the incident did not affect you directly. A stranger driving too fast on the highway, a father, not known to you, hitting his son etc. Think seriously, how many times has your raving and ranting, helped get out something positive out of a situation, other than giving you the satisfaction that you did not take it lying down.

How many times did you get angry when you knew that somehow you were responsible, even though, partially, for whatever happened?

There are some important lessons about anger and it’s management in the above paragraphs. Three of them are:

(a) We don’t get angry when we know that the anger is not going to register with the one responsible for our misery or when we are certain any amount of anger is not going to result in anything.
(b) We don’t get angry when we are convinced that the anger generating act is not going to affect us in any way.
(c) We don’t get angry when we know that we are partly to be blamed for the situation.

Herein lies the secret to controlling your anger.

You must understand that when you are angry with anyone, more so when with the people known to you, they switch off and their senses take a flight. They do not understand the things you are saying. They become defensive and are already figuring out how to justify their act or how to get out of the situation or how to assuage your temper. They have stopped listening to your logic and whatever you say is falling on deaf ears. In short it is akin to shouting at an animal, whose tail caught you on the face when you passed by. If the other party is better at anger management than you and do not give it back to you at the very next instant, it just means that they care for you or are scared of you or just couldn’t care less. The last two situations are not very desirable and if it is the first one you ought to be ashamed of yourself. You will be much better to engage the other party in decent, civil discussion and put across your point of view to avoid a similar circumstance arising at a later day.

When I look back upon my life and that of my temperamentally ‘hot’ friends and relatives, nothing they ever got angry for, has affected their life for good. It was very temporary and in most cases the things resolved themselves leaving only a taste of bitterness in their relationships. They actually laugh about the things they did and I am sure feel a sense of shame. What I am saying is, Are the things that are making you angry really affecting you. 99% of the times no. This is evident from the fact that if the same thing happens to some other person you will probably think nothing of it. Then how does it matter so much when it happens to you. The trick, a difficult one to practice, is to detach yourself from the situation. Leave the body for some time and think that it is happening to someone else and how you would react when this thing happens to someone else. Chances are you will realize that it’s nothing. Most of what we consider to be PROBLEMS are actually minor inconveniences. Just think nothing of it. It is NOT a life changing or threatening situation and will pass.

Whatever the situation, give the other person the benefit of doubt and know that you were also in some responsible for the situation. You can’t clap with one hand, can you? If you think this way, you can not only avoid getting angry but also give yourself the time to think holistically about the situation and be more pragmatic while discussing it later. Stop being so certain of yourself and ‘knowing’ that grave injustice has been done to only you and letting fly at every occasion. You must pause, count up to ten or do whatever it takes you to let the moment pass and then consider what happened before you jump to conclusions.

To summarize, getting angry will only end up spoiling your relationships and your health. It also will create a feeling of bitterness in the other party, who I am sure will wait for the day when he/she can get back at you. So much more can be achieved if you can control your anger and sort out issues / give out lessons / preach when things are under control, emotions are not flying and the other party is willing to listen and engage.

One last thing, remember to give yourself and others a chance. Don’t get angry at the moment, you have your whole life to do so.

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