Here are some practical suggestions for dealing with anger.
1. When you are angry say nothing.
If we speak in anger we will definitely aggravate the situation and quite likely hurt the feelings of others. If we speak in anger we will find that people respond in kind, creating a spiral of negative anger. If we can remain outwardly silent it gives time for the emotion of anger to leave us.
“When angry count to ten before you speak. If very angry, count to one hundred. “
2. Be indifferent to those who seek to make us angry.
Some people may unfortunately take a malicious pleasure in trying to make you mad. However, if we can feel indifferent to them and their words; if we feel it is beyond our dignity to even acknowledge them, then their words and actions will have no effect. Also, if we do not respond in any way to their provocation, they will lose interest and not bother us in the future.
3. Use reason to stop anger.
When we feel anger coming to the fore try to take a step back and say to yourself “This anger will not help me in any way. This anger will make the situation worse.” Even if part of us remains angry our inner voice is helping us to distance our self from the emotion of anger.
4. Look kindly upon Others.
Another visualisation, suggested by spiritual teacher Paramhansa Yogananda, is to see the anger-rousing agent as a 5 year old child. If you think of the other person as a helpless 5 year old child your compassion and forgiveness will come to the fore. If your baby brother accidentally stabbed you, you would not feel anger and desire to retaliate. Instead, you would just feel he is just too young to know any better. This exercise may be particularly useful for close members of the family who at times evoke your anger.
5. Value Peace more than anger.
If we value peace of mind as our most important treasure we will not allow anger to remain in our system. As Sri Chinmoy says:
“You may have every right to be angry with someone, but you know that by getting angry with him you will only lose your precious peace of mind..”
6. Always try to understand those who are cross.
Don’t worry about feeling the need to defend yourself from their criticisms. If you can remain detached and calm they may begin to feel guilty about venting their anger on you. Inspired by your example of calmness, they will seek subconsciously to do the same.
7. Focus on Something Completely Different.
Suppose someone has done something to make you angry. Think about something which will make you happy. The best antidote to negativity is to focus on the positive.
8. Breathe Deeply.
The simple act of breathing deeply will help considerably with removing anger.
Practise meditation regularly to bring your inner peace to the fore. If we can have an inner access to our inner peace we will be able to draw upon this during testing times. – How to Meditate
When we smile we defuse many negative situations. To smile is offer goodwill to others. Smiling costs nothing but can effectively defuse tense situations.
If you leave your unlocked bike in the centre of town, it is likely to get stolen. This can be frustrating and is likely to give rise to feelings of anger. Of course, we should minimise this kind of situation – simply remember to lock your bike. If we feel there is an injustice in our workplace, we should work to resolve it; this will make our work environment more peaceful and less prone to creating anger. If we have a partner who is abusive, the solution is not just dealing with our own anger, but finding a more peaceful living situation.
When we try to transcend anger, it doesn’t mean we have to acquiesce to injustice and unfairness. We should strive to make the world a better place. However, whatever our goals, it is always best to act with poise and a clear mind. Acting under the influence of anger makes it more difficult to attain what we wish to achieve.
Finally as a teacher, I occasionally feign anger to make students pay attention; sometimes, you need to show a stern face. However, as a teacher you can’t afford to allow yourself to be over-run with the emotion of anger because then you may over-react and create problems.
Photo credit: Ranjit Swanson, Sri Chinmoy Centre Galleries