Have you ever wondered what makes you angry? Is it the object or circumstance or outcome you desire that makes you fret, fume and lose control over yourself or is it your desire itself?
All the time, you will discover when you think through this, it is your desire that gets you all keyed up. Consider these situations: 1. You order a coffee and it arrives lukewarm. You get angry. Is the coffee to be blamed for your anger? Or is the waiter responsible for it? Or is your desire that the coffee be warm fuelling your anger? 2. You see a passenger cutting across an airline check-in queue. Who is responsible for your anger: your desire for decorum among public or the insensitive passenger? 3. Your boss doesn’t give you an opportunity you truly deserve. Is your irrational boss to be blamed for your anger or is your perfectly rational expectation making you angry? Remember that the discussion here is on what makes you angry and not whether the circumstance or person in question is right or wrong.
The onlyway to deal with anger is to understand that it is your unfulfilled desire/expectation that causes you to get angry over any situation. And so start with yourself first on this journey to know how to manage your anger. All your efforts to change the environment and people around you will produce zero results. However, you can cover major ground when you seek within. When you go within, tempering your expectations, you end up learning to control your emotional outbursts, conserving oodles of energy, and, invariably, you will find more peaceful, purposeful, productive methods to change the environment, people and circumstances that angered you in the first place. Change every ‘Damn!’ or ‘How dare you?’ that arises in your mind, with, ‘Interesting!’ or ‘How can I stay calm and help myself?’ statements.
This is not as difficult as it seems. Most of the time we miss the opportunity to be calm in a challenging situation because we take a person or an event very seriously. Instead take everyone and everything lightly. If something happens the way you wanted it, great! If it falls short of your expectations – try to get it to your standards. If you can’t still get it to be the way you want it, shrug your shoulders and move on. Getting angry is only going to make you feel more miserable. Your anger may be directed at someone or something else. But remember it arises from within you. It has to first harm you, vanquish you, before it even strikes the other person or thing at whom it is directed.
I have read Osho, the Master, tell the story of a great Sufi mystic, Junnaid. Every evening, in his prayers, Junnaid used to thank creation for its compassion, for its love, for its care.
Once it happened that for three days Junnaid and his disciples were traveling and they came across villages where people were very anti-Junnaid, because they thought his teachings were not exactly the teachings of Mohammed. His teachings seemed to be his own and people thought that he was corrupting them.
So from the three villages they had not got any food, not even water. On the third day they were really in a bad shape. His disciples were thinking, “Now let us see what happens in the prayer. How can he now say to creation:‘You are compassionate to us; your love is there. You care about us, and we are grateful to you.’?”
But when the time to pray came, Junnaid prayed the same way. After the prayer one of his followers said, “This is too much. For three days we have suffered hunger and thirst. We are tired, we have not slept, and still you are saying to creation:‘You are compassionate, your love towards us is great, and you take so much care that we are grateful to you.’”
Junnaid replied: “My prayer does not depend on any condition; those things are ordinary. Whether I get food or not I don’t want to bother creation about it — such a small thing in such a big Universe. If I don’t get water…even if I die, it does not matter, my prayer will remain the same. Because in this vast Universe…it makes no difference whether Junnaid is alive or dead.”
That is a big learning for us. Don’t take yourself or anyone else or anything seriously. Be easy. Take it easy. Anger is one of the biggest source of draining the cosmic, spiritual, energy in you. If you can learn to productively channelize all the energy that you expend when you are angry, you will have scaled one of the highest peaks of self-realization.