The devil inside - Anger - How to overcome? Part II28, Sept, 2013, by Seema Bhatnagar
The devil inside - Anger - How to overcome? Part I
The devil inside - Anger - How to overcome? Part III
"When a man dwells on the objects of sense, he creates an attraction for them; attraction develops into desire, and desire breeds anger." ~ The Dhammapada
Since we live in a materialistic world, where each one of us has endless desires, there could be infinite reasons for getting angry. Our daily life presents different situations which may trigger our anger buttons, following are some common reasons:
- Others don't behave according to our desire.
- Things must go my way
- Losing an argument
- Meaning to situation
- Inferiority Complex
- Personal Dissatisfaction
- Breach of trust
- Deprivation of basic life needs
- Unnecessary criticism
This is one of the most common reasons and almost 30% of all the anger triggering situations are due to this reason. Most often we want people to change and expect them to work as per our desires which if not followed by others becomes the reason of our anger. It is especially very common in relationships where partners have desires to change each other. It is equivalent to emotional blackmailing and people literally use it every day to get things done.
Most of us believe that our perspective of looking at things is the best one and things must work according to it, which if not adopted by others can result in anger. This reason is more common to people who get extra pampering as a child and does not have a habit of accepting NO. Such people often forget that parents are different and people outside are different and things cannot work as per ones discretion.
Having expectations from self and not meeting them as per personal satisfaction can become the lifelong reason of anger with self and others. Such people become negative and find everybody as their enemy and have completely negative world view.
Having a difference of opinion about subject is quite common, but few people literally feel angry when they are losing an argument and would literally yell and shout in order to influence others. In the heat of things they often forget that sometimes it is good to accept defeat in argument, especially, if they do not have much to convince others. By the way, winning an argument, in no sense makes anybody a winner; it is just a temporary ego satisfaction. (posted on facebook on 26th July, 2013 as status update)
Not getting promotion when others are getting, performance is not recognized, somebody is getting advantage because of some position or role, could also be the reason of anger. But one has to remember that to fight any type of injustice, first, one has to stabilize his/her mind, without it justice cannot be achieved.
Sometimes if somebody has said something which does not fit our personal beliefs, we draws out altogether a different meaning to the situation and builds a negative image of other person and gets angry over the negative meaning. Probably, the other had no such intention to hurt but the meaning attached to situation turns the whole situation in a different direction. It is always good to give a positive meaning to a situation rather than concocting a personal story and attaching it to situation. Look at the situation as it is.
We all have certain weaknesses and strengths, and sometimes some weakness can make us feel inferior too, and to hide this personal weakness and inferiority complex people use anger and try to influence others. Interestingly, doesn't matter how much you shout or yell, your inferiority complex will somehow find its way for expression and can make you feel more negative. Instead of hiding personal weakness it is important to accept self with personal flaws and faults and enhance your self-respect.
Delaying tasks, that too important ones till the eleventh hour is another common reason for anger to flare. This is quite common at work place where if any important task is not done on time cause anger and dissatisfaction to rise and damage relationships with peers and bosses. This is also true for students who keep on procrastinating studies and completion of assignments till the eleventh hour which cause serious productivity problem and later becomes a reason of anger.
Lack of sleep, too much of physical and mental activities could become the reason of tiredness which can sometimes trigger anger in people. This is quite common amongst those who work in odd shifts and do not get enough sleep. If continued for long period such people become irritable.
Not getting enough food makes people to lose temper. Such situations are common amongst people who have very erratic work schedules or physically demanding jobs.
This could be considered as the root of all reasons of anger. Having expectations from self and not meeting them as per personal satisfaction can become the lifelong reason of anger with self and others. Such people become negative and find everybody as their enemy and have completely negative world view. Having a negative world view makes them vulnerable to angry situations and quite often they fall prey to anger.
Trust, which is a foundation of all relationships, if gets breached makes people go mad in anger. Breach of trust is common in marriages, at work, because of which people have deep seated dissatisfaction in relationships and at work. At work, boss doesn't trust employees and employees do not trust boss because of which the work doesn't bring satisfaction to either one, doesn't matter how great and well established a company is.
In marriages, extra marital affairs and continuous dissatisfaction makes people to breach trust which results in anger and revengeful behavior towards each other.
People who are deprived of basic needs of life such as food, shelter and clothes are full of anger and hatred towards others and that results in crime in a society.
Some people who have little tolerance towards criticism tend to get angry easily at work or sometimes even with nears and dears. Unnecessary criticism makes children stubborn and they also develop a habit of getting angry on slight criticism.
There could be many more reasons for different people for different situations, but the fundamental root cause is, the feeling of having lost control over the situation which triggers the fear of vulnerability and rejection or fear of getting true self revealed.
Suppress or Express
People will hurt you, criticize you and will make you inferior but at the end it is your reaction and response that matters which can make all these attempts futile and fragile. ~ Seema Bhatnagar(posted on facebook on 9th May, 2013, as status update)
It is a general dilemma for people about expressing or suppressing their anger. In both the conditions it is not healthy. If expressing anger is bad then suppressing it is equally bad because holding it for too long in body can become the cause of many psychosomatic illnesses. There are three ways in which anger is handled, first two are common and the third one is a desired goal.
“When anger rises, think of the consequences” ~ Confucius
If somebody said anything against you or yelled at you, the first reaction is to counter attack it with the same intensity, it is like, dousing fire with fire. Reacting to anger with equal intensity is a reflection. For example, when your spouse made a comment about some of your habits, you got disturbed and angry. As a response, you simply countered it with the same intensity by pointing out some habit of him/her. This countering with the same intensity is a reflection of anger. For many couples, this vicious circle continues and it becomes a continuous discomfort of staying together.
“Anger repressed can poison a relationship as surely as the cruelest words” ~ Dr. Joyce Brothers
Without any reaction and keeping quite but carrying it inside for days or years is absorbing the anger. For example, at work, when boss yells at you, out of sheer fear of serious consequences, you don't reflect it back and keep quite, which means you simply absorbed your anger.
“There's nothing wrong with anger provided you use it constructively.” ~ Wayne DyerWithout getting affected and giving a positive perspective to a situation without carrying any trace of anger inside is transforming anger.
In both the examples above, about reflection and absorbing, if there had been an understanding that other person is angry because s/he is either unable to understand your perspective or probably irritated about some other incident or situation, this anger triggering could have been averted there and then. It was simply a matter of understanding the other person with more thoughtfulness.
The most important aspect about transforming approach is, that anger should not affect you, rather you must channelize it with your sensitivity. Some may call it as a Zen approach or a spiritual approach, but whatever you may call, it saves you from harmful chemicals that you would have carried for days and years because of some trivial issue.
A good understanding about the concept of "projection of anger" can probably change your reaction towards anger. If there was a situation of anger and due to some reason you could not reflect your anger and absorbed it, but later on expressed it at a different place in some entirely different context, is a projection of anger . For example, on being unable to reflect anger on boss, you absorbed it but reflected it at child or spouse at home for a very trivial situation. Similarly, there could be many situations in our life where we absorb anger and reflect it in entirely different context or situation.
For majority of us, it is safe to absorb our anger than to reflect because reflection poses an underlying threat of anticipated consequences. For sure, reflection is bad, but absorbing it is not good thing either. So, the best way is to develop power to transform anger.
Here is a quick exercise for you:
Just watch yourself for a day at work, home, while walking in street, while travelling in public transport, while driving and keep a note of all those situations which triggered your anger and how you handled them (reflect,absorb or transform).
My Personal Experience
Not too long back, I also used to lose my temper over small or trivial matters and for days and years used to sulk over the same event, because of which many of my friendships could not reach to full blossom. I was never an aggressive person but my tolerance towards criticism, pain and hurt was too less because of which every small such event had an aggravated effect on me.
Some of my bosses, colleagues and friends were highly toxic and on not meeting their single expectation will trigger their anger buttons and during my interactions with them, I too used to lose my anger. Due to this, I used to feel myself as a victim of the situation and sulked for days and days together because of which I could not enjoy healthy relationships.
My typical reaction was to withdraw from the situation or from that person altogether and would stop all my communication. In many situations, I could not reflect, so I used to absorb my anger and carried it for days and days. As a result, it never brought any improvement in me or in the other person, so the net result used to be zero. On the other side, I used to feel as if I am burning from inside, losing concentration over work and constantly thinking how to hit back.
Following were some of the situations for which I would withdraw and sulk or will stop communicating with that person for days and days.
- If somebody criticized me.
- If somebody ridiculed me.
- If somebody shouted at me in front of all.
- If somebody rejected my proposal for going out or eating what I am suggesting.
- If I get a sense that somebody is trying to ignore me.
- At work, if get to know that somebody is talking against me. Since politics has never been by forte, so really used to feel angry.
- If somebody is appreciating somebody else and not me, will think that the other person is working against me.
- If I get a sense that somebody is trying to bypass me.
- Unfairness always made me feel angry.
- If somebody is being egoistic, doesn't matter at home or work.
- On losing an argument.
Looking back, I had a strong urge to control others and if they didn't comply, would trigger my anger. Over the period of time, I took steps to broaden my horizon and learnt to ignore trivial matters and frictions, difference of opinions, not to participate in arguments, accept criticism wholeheartedly and accept others as they are. Now, there is hardly any situation which triggers my anger. Fundamentally, I have accepted the fact that we cannot change or punish people for their misbehaviors, rashness or crudeness and a mere thought to change them is a sheer wastage of personal energy. That doesn't mean, I would always keep quiet in anger triggering situation, in fact, I would always raise my concern in the humblest possible way, it might trigger the other person's anger but it will surely not trigger mine and that is really important.
Moreover, I understand the fact that an average individual has personal interest in almost all situations in life and in majority of the cases this is a driving force. People expect others to behave according to them and get hurt if others fail to do so, this makes them to project their anger in different forms in different irrelevant situations. I have smoothened edges of my ego and have started accepting others with their flaws and faults.
Since I am not working with any organization, so I do not have much work related exposure to people with different temperaments and backgrounds so not sure if same situations which used to trigger my anger before carry the same potential to trigger my anger buttons now. During my life coaching sessions, I do get to face people who lose temper for not getting desired results.Since I have developed a power to understand other person's perspective, such situations do not create any effect on me and have handled all my coachees calmly without losing temper.
Keeping no expectations has been the biggest and most powerful tool which worked for me. In my everyday interaction with people, I enter with a clean mind with zero expectation, and then it really doesn't matter to what level the other person goes. Even if s/he misbehaves, I am fine, because I know other person is trying to control me and I know where to stop it and where to let it go. So it is like the whole control is with me and external situation becomes weak.
Moreover, I developed a thinking that majority of the people have very less control over themselves because they did not take pains to learn this art and only that makes them behave angrily in situations.
The other perspective which worked for me is about trusting in situation, which means that whatever is happening is happening for my good and whatever happened in the past happened for good and whatever will happen will happen in my best interest. This is a wisdom from Bhagavad Gita. Quite a few times, I applied this wisdom in my own life events and found it absolutely true. Looking back at situations with a fresh eyes and mind, gives me total confidence into this wisdom. Whatever I have come across in life so far has worked in my favor and this reinforces my belief of accepting the current moment as it is without making any change into it, so this closes all channels for anger to flow.
Overcoming my anger over trivial situations has made me to experience an absolutely a new highs of mental calmness and willingness to extend my help to others. I have observed that angry people are weak from inside and at worst they can go violent but that is an extreme form. To handle such people, either give them a new perspective of looking at things or you surrender to them, the choice lies with you. Of course, not to surrender to any physical violence because it is a form of crime.
Probably, there are still certain unforeseen situations which can trigger my anger buttons, just recently (just last week only), I was working with a person for marketing (for Isis Health Clinic, which I own and manage) purpose and asked him to design an advertisement to be published in local magazine. He got it designed from somebody and sent me for an approval. Content-wise it was fine but there was no differentiating creativity shown in it and it wasn't very catchy as well, overall it had a very gaudy look. After three rounds of reviewing it, I gave my go ahead, but somewhere inside I wasn't able to accept the fact that it is not as per my taste. So, I decided to ask him for making desired changes but I also knew that he will not like it. On getting the right understanding about his reaction, I contacted him again and asked him to make changes in fonts, colors and placement of text etc. He literally got annoyed (as expected) and started defending his work, I was ready for it, but somewhere I was feeling angry too because if I am paying money, then the output should be of my taste but at the same time, I understood the fact that he himself and his designer could not understand my taste and will not be able to deliver it in a short period and they have already tried their best. Moreover, I only gave my final approval and then again wanted some change, I considered this as my mistake. So, I decided to take the situation in my hand and started designing the ad myself, spent a good one hour and created it as per my taste. Since I create all my visual inspirational quotes myself, my designing skills have improved over the period of time, (have learnt it myself, by the way). Finally, I sent a ready ad to him and ask for an apology for not accepting his design. He happily agreed to incorporate mine and somewhere felt bad about his behavior but personally I had no anger against him as I transformed it to the best of my ability. This overall incident made me happy and aware of the fact that my power to transform anger is improving and in no time I will reach a point where things will not touch me at all.
On top of changing basic thought process, my daily practice of meditation also helped me a lot in developing calmness and peace inside. But, before meditation works it is also necessary to change basic thought process else meditation alone cannot do any miracle. A good example is Ravana, despite being an established yogi, spiritualist and pundit; he could not control his anger and jealousy and lost his life at the hands of Lord Ram.
This change has dramatically brought shift in my horizon and has been one of the most important milestones in my journey of personal development and growth. Having this in place, I can take more challenges in life to bring more growth.
…...Read part III…
The devil inside - Anger - How to overcome? Part I
The devil inside - Anger - How to overcome? Part III