Buddhist tradition teaches that a deity does not punish a person for acting in anger, but, rather, the person punishes themselves with their own anger. Medical science seems to support this tenet. Now, that’s not to say that there is something inherently evil about anger. Anger is a natural and normal part of the human condition. Everyone is capable of it and everyone experiences it. The key is whether anger controls the person or the person controls the anger.
In order to effectively manage any potential problem, a person must first admit that a problem exists. The first step, then, to successfully managing anger is to admit that you get angry and, when you are angry, state unequivocally that you are feeling angry. But “state” it, don’t “shout” it.
Once you admit you are angry, you can then accept that your judgment may be affected by negative emotions. This can help you avert potential disastrous decisions and actions. It can help you take a step back and begin to defuse rather than escalate. A verbal statement recognizing your emotional state can serve as a “heads up” to those around you that you are in an emotionally fragile state. It can empower your loved ones to help you.
Being mindful and accepting that anger dwells within helps a person avoid the traps that denial can set. Denial can cause a person to suppress negative emotions, pretending everything is a-okay. Then, one day, out of the blue, that last straw that breaks the camel’s back happens and a volcano of emotion erupts, out of control, and the denier is lost in the confusion of what just happened. Denial is never helpful.
Denial can also frustrate loved ones and, possibly, even set them up to be recipients of abuse. When a person denies that they ever lose their temper, they also deny that they are ever responsible for hurting those that they love with unkind words or unfair deeds. This can shatter trust in otherwise loving relationships. Despite all the talk of “unconditional love”, we all know well and good that practically every healthy relationship has “conditions”. They are called “boundaries”. And no one has the right to verbally, emotionally or physically cross them and abuse another.
If a person denies that they are capable of getting angry, they set themselves up for a life of delusion that could very well lead to abusive acts that are then justified as being caused by how someone else acted. Deflecting blame and denial of anger issues are the hallmarks of an abuser. Don’t be one. Face the anger within you and control it.
Abusers deny responsibility of their anger. The truth, however, is that each person’s feelings of anger are created within themselves. People and situations don’t “make” you angry. You become angry because of the inner thoughts and reactions you allow yourself to entertain.
When control is lost in a situation, rather than begin the cascade of negative thoughts that lead to frustration and, finally, anger, immediately begin the calming exercise of meditation.
If it is a person that the negative energy within you is attempting to direct itself, try to perceive that person differently. Focus on how you should be kind. Envision how an act of kindness could transform the current situation. Detach yourself from the reaction that things should be the way you want them to be. Allow yourself to look at that person and consider their own personal pain that they may be hiding and be moved with compassion toward them.
We must strive to not act on our anger and hurt another. When we hurt another we harm ourselves. Anger is a form of emotional energy and, like any form of energy, it must be spent. Choose how you spend it. Meditative practices, acts of kindness, and words of comfort are all well and good. However, sometimes there is nothing like a power walk around the block or sprint to the end of the street to purge a body and mind of the harmful chemical reactions that were taking place. Replace the damaging hormones of stress with healthy endorphins, dopamines and seratonins.
Don’t be ashamed of your emotions. Don’t deny your emotions. And, don’t let your emotions determine who you are as a person nor sabotage your wellness.