Mindless anger is avoidable.
The CEO of a mid-size firm confessed to me that he has anger management issues. He said he gets ‘ticked off on the flimsiest pretext’ and wanted to know how he could ‘control his anger’.
This CEO reminded me of myself. I used to be this way. In fact, even now, at times, I do get angry. But, until a few years ago, my anger was mindless and would last several days. But now, my awareness, cultivated to through the practice of mouna (observing silence periods daily) helps me see the anger rising in me and encourages me to allow it to subside – because I now know that I can’t solve any problem or change any situation that I dislike by merely being mindlessly angry with it!
Let me explain how I have understood to deal with anger.
I used to have a personal assistant who would always, always, mess things up. And his behavior, his body language, his utterances, in fact, his very presence would infuriate me. One day, after another high-decibel screaming episode with him, I remarked to Vaani, in complete frustration, “You know what? I am to blame for retaining this guy with us. He’s not the source of my anger and misery. I am!”
That statement was a Eureka moment for me! Perhaps I was aided by my reflective practice of mouna, maybe I was driven to enlightenment by my frustration with myself, whatever it was, it certainly helped me see the futility of my mindless rage. Clearly. Over the following weeks, I meditated more on this understanding. I realized that whenever you get angry with someone, you have caused that anger within you first. The target of your anger is outside of you – but the anger has risen within you. There is no point working on the target. You must work on the source.
I employed this learning sincerely over the months that followed. In fact, after some years of diligent practice, I still believe this awareness is something you must sustain continuously. You must work on being aware in each moment.
So, every time I get angry with someone or something, I remind myself that just getting angry mindlessly is a waste. Trying to control anger doesn’t work either. Because when you control anger, you are repressing it – which is why you are often not even “seeing” that you are angry, whenever you are angry! You are resisting a natural human response. And whatever you resist, persists. Instead, go to the root cause of your anger. And always, every single time, you will find that your anger is born out of what you expect, out of what you desire. And when you see your desire clearly, ask yourself if you are capable of changing a current reality into an aspirational reality? If you think you can do this, then channelize the energy from your anger to achieve that aspirational state. Employ your anger for a Higher Purpose. (That’s what Gandhi did with the Indian Freedom Movement.) If you can’t, simply let go of your anger.
Anger is like any other emotion – it will rise like a wave in you, as a natural human response to a situation. If you are aware of it you can either use the energy for a constructive outcome or you can let it go. If you are not aware of it, in extreme cases, it can even consume you. But more often than not it makes you feel helpless and miserable! Why would you want to cause your own suffering?
A good starting point to deal with anger is to work on yourself – so begin with letting go of all expectations. Do your best, each time, and don’t set any conditions on the outcome of your efforts. Let whatever will happen, happen. In fact, whether you like it or not, whatever is due to happen will only happen. So, have an open mind, this awareness, all the time. That way, when anger arises within you, as it naturally will when what you don’t like, want or expect happens to you, you will see how pointless it is to get mindlessly angry. See if your anger can be employed to achieve a Higher Purpose. If you see that it can’t be, simply let it go. This is the only way to avoid being mindlessly angry!
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