Anger Management

One of the unhealthiest emotions is our old friend anger.
It has been connected with cancer and it destroys our ability to think clearly. 

Yogesh Sharda explains how we can manage it better.

What is anger, can it be overcome, and indeed should we even try?

If one were to ask a selection of people what triggers their anger I suspect there would be a wide range of answers. However one thing I am certain of is that whatever the cause, even a single word spoken in anger can leave an impression on a person’s heart that may remain for a long time, and has the ability to ruin the beauty of any relationship.

A famous sage once said, “How can there be peace on earth if the hearts of men are like volcanoes?”   If within the person there can be peace and freedom from anger, only then can they live in harmony with others.  So how can we set about creating that sense of peace within ourselves?

It starts with the realisation that we do have the choice to think and feel the way we want to. If we look at what it is that makes us angry we might discover there is nothing that has the power to make us feel this way.  We can only allow something to trigger our anger—the anger is how we respond to some event or somebody.  But because we are so used to reacting on impulse, we forget to choose how we want to feel, and then respond inappropriately, leaving ourselves with angry feelings. 

Have you ever heard someone saying: “I really hate it when you speak like that to me?” Or how about, “How many times do I have to tell you to do it like this?”  One lesson I have learned is that, try as I might, I can never control circumstances, people or situations, as they are constantly changing.  The only thing I can control is the way I choose to respond.  Only I can increase my capacity to tolerate; only I can develop my ability to understand; and only I can nurture my love for others regardless of whether one day they praise me and the next they defame me.  Modern-day life comes with a whole host of challenges. In facing these I have come to see every interaction within our world as part of one large drama or game. And within this drama, every single individual has their own unique part to play, which is essentially an expression of their own inner self. As I come to accept this, rather than spending my time keeping an eye on what others are doing, I can begin to use my energy to play my own part to the best of my ability.  I realise that I cannot possess or own the behaviour of others, because if I do, this will ultimately lead to conflict.  Instead I need to practise the understanding that regardless of whatever action a person may be doing, according to their own part within the play there is some reason why they are behaving in that way.  Therefore I should try not to jump to conclusions too easily; and rather than trying to control another person’s behaviour, it will be far easier and more productive for me to focus my energy on my own actions.

So what is so wrong in judging in their actions? There is a danger that if we become too concerned with their activity, we may begin to feel anger toward that person, which may lead to dislike for them.   We put them into some kind of box, and fix a label on them. Then whenever we come into contact with that person, we will see him or her in the light of their past mistake. But in doing this, we are effectively imprisoning them in their past actions.  However if we allow the person the dignity of actually growing out of their own mistake—if our vision allows them to do that—then, sooner or later, it is possible for people to change.

This concept of life being a drama can help us to detach ourselves from what’s happening around us, and this detachment or space is of great help in learning not to make judgements so quickly about others.  If we create a small space, a healthy space between ourself and the drama of life, we find that that space acts like a buffer. Neither will we jump out and grab someone’s throat, nor will the drama of life be able to suddenly grab us unawares. 

This is one of the many benefits of practising meditation.  It helps us to create personal space within ourselves so that we have the chance to look, weigh up the situation, and respond accordingly, through remaining in a state of self-control.  When we are angry, we have no self-control.  At that moment we are in a state of internal chaos, and the anger can be a very destructive force. 

It is often said that anger can be a useful thing.   People say, “Look at all the problems in the world, surely unless someone got angry about it nothing would happen?”   It reminds me of the story about an old man sitting by a river and talking to a group of his disciples. His hand was stretched out behind him and an insect came crawling along and bit him badly.  As it did so, it slipped and fell into the river.  This old man looked behind him and saw the insect struggling in the river, so he picked it up and placed it back on the ground.  A few minutes later, the same insect crawled over to his hand and bit him on the finger, and again slipped over and fell into the river.  The old man looked round, picked it up, and placed it back on the ground.  When this happened a third time, one of his disciples said to him, “Master why do you do this?  The insect bites you and yet you save it.  Why do you not let it drown and it then it won’t be able to bite you?” He replied “It is in the insect’s nature to bite, it is in my nature to save”.  Similarly, someone’s nature might be to criticise, or to backbite, or even to challenge us.  Yet that is completely out of our hands.  We can only do what it is that we have to do.  We can’t justify a negative action by saying, “Oh well, you do the same thing too.”   If we say that, then we are saying, “I will only grow and change when you decide to grow and change, it’s in your hands.”  But can growth ever happen like that?  If we wait for each other to change it is likely we will be waiting an extremely long time.

Sometimes anger is used as a kind of self-defence mechanism, a sentry guard standing outside the fortress walls of our inner selves. When anybody tries to attack or criticise us, anger pops up and demands, “Who do you think you are?  Look at you!”  Anger reacts.  Anger is the emotion which tries to hold all the other illusions together.  If anyone tries to attack what we believe in or care about, anger comes out to chase them away.  This is an example of using anger to protect our simulated self, our sense of ego. However, by recognising ourselves as spiritual beings, and through the awareness and experience of the beauty of our true nature, our dependency on other people’s approval reduces as we rediscover an inner stillness and stability. Thus the need for anger as our protector is eliminated.

This form of stability can create a firm foundation, a kind of positive stubbornness.  Others can say whatever they want, and it may also be true, but we don’t lose our peace or happiness for any reason.  This is to respect what is eternal within each of us.   We give ourselves the opportunity to maintain our own peace of mind, because let’s face it, no-one’s going to turn up at our door with a box full of peace and say, “Here, I think you could do with some of this today!”

There is a particular story about Buddha which illustrates an important principle.  Buddha was under the tree of enlightenment when someone who had heard that the Buddha was an enlightened person came along to test his self-control. He came in front of Buddha and started swearing at him, calling him all the names under the sun and yet there was no reaction.  Some time later this person got a bit tired so he went off and had a rest and came back and had a second go.  He abused Buddha’s family and hurled every insult he could think of but there was still no reaction. He grew very tired and so asked Buddha, “I am defaming you every way I can think of, and yet you do not say anything back at me”.  Buddha looked up at him and said, “If someone gives you a gift, but you don't accept it, then who is the gift left with?”
This highlights a crucial insight. We have a choice. If we have taken sorrow from someone, we cannot blame the other person and say, “It’s your fault, you spoke to me like this”.  We recognise that we do have a choice in every moment. We can use our intellect as a filter to decide what we are going to allow to enter, and what we are going to prevent from coming inside and affecting me. 

Broadly speaking, there are two methods which people suggest one should try and deal with anger.  Some say if you’re feeling angry, then be angry as a way of expression—let it out. And indeed, at that moment we do become free from the anger, because we have let it out. However, as we deepen our understanding and experience of the way in which our consciousness works, we realise that the more we do something, the deeper that habit becomes.  So tomorrow we will find it easier to become angry because we have already done it today.  It is like a smoker trying to give up cigarettes. When he feels like smoking, he smokes, and so he doesn’t feel like smoking any more. Nice idea. But instead of removing that desire, the act of smoking has only temporarily fulfilled it, and the habit has taken an even firmer grip such that tomorrow the desire will be even stronger.  So expression doesn’t transform the habit or feeling. 

Another suggestion people might make is that you should suppress anger.  If you feel yourself getting angry, stop yourself, suppress it.  But this is the pressure cooker situation.  I just get more and more heated up inside until I explode!  I can only ever suppress for a certain period of time.  And actually when I am suppressing, I am really pushing those fears and emotions into my subconscious, from where they will emerge in another form, rather like weeds.

But there is a third method, which could be described as sublimation, or the changing of form. Through the daily practice and application of spiritual principles in our practical life, the experience of our own inner peace can become a very natural. In this way, just as the form of water can be changed from solid to liquid to gas, so too the energy which was previously being used to express and feed anger, can also be changed to the force behind the expression of determination or courage instead.  Rather than being angry with someone to prove a point, we can learn to be assertive. Assertiveness contains respect for oneself, whereas anger shows respect for neither the self nor others. Only by ridding ourself of anger can we become free to experience the peace of our true spiritual nature.

There is a story about Alexander the Great, as he was about to return to Greece from India.  Since he had been told to bring a yogi back with him, he went searching into the forest. Eventually he found one sitting under a tree and quietly sat down next to him.  After some time, the yogi opened his eyes. Alexander said to him “I want you to come back to Greece with me”.  The yogi just looked at him.  Alexander continued, “If you come with me you’ll have your own people to attend to your needs and you will be well known throughout the land”. Yet the yogi explained that he had no desire to go.  So the exasperated Alexander drew his sword and shouted, “Do you not realise who I am, I am Alexander the great conqueror and if I want I can cut you up into pieces!”  The yogi smiled and replied, “You have made two statements, neither of which is true. Firstly you cannot cut me into pieces; you may be able to injure my body, but I am the eternal soul, deathless, immortal.  And secondly, you say you are Alexander the great conqueror, but may I tell you that in fact, you are nothing more than the slave of my slave”.  Alexander put his sword out to him and demanded the yogi explain himself. The yogi said “I have conquered anger through the process of meditation, and yet look how easily anger gets the better of you.  Anger is my slave and you have become the slave of anger.”  I never did find out what Alexander did to that yogi!

Yogesh Sharda is a teacher of meditation and spiritual development currently based in Istanbul as a co-ordinator of the Brahma Kumaris Centre there.

#31 2020-05-19 10:14 - Wilhemina
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#30 2015-09-10 09:42 - Surbhi
Trying to follow... Thank you for sharing your knowledge, I hope it becomes our wisdom.
#29 2014-09-20 20:34 - sanjay tandon

In this universe we can change one person i.e. me. Do not try to control other souls

#28 2012-11-22 13:51 - Jagan Verma
This is very good article . one can control by following any of the path described above.but I more important is the practice in the daily life that will motivate the results.
jagan Verma
#27 2012-10-08 06:20 - Arpit Khare ,bangalore

Really a very helping article to understand that how to manage the negative energy to positive one. We should think of everyone as if we are actor in this life drama having the same base (soul) , If we see a person as a soul not as their role, we will never require any anger management, because nobody loves to hurt himself and everyone is a soul (atman). In that case we will respect and love to each other

#26 2012-03-02 21:10 - Lalit

Om Shanti, I used to practice 2nd categary to control my anger, but for sure it was not a solution to control my anger. I was following Sister Shivani over TV and came to know what's the right way to control your anger (3rd Category) and To be honest I am seriously following this. If any such situation comes I do get angry for a moment but at the same time I try to replace it with some positive thoughts and it's making lot of change in my life and thought process. I used to think why me? At least now that question don't bother me because of your's and Sister Shivani's articles. Thanks Lalit

#25 2011-10-07 16:02 - Jaya

A Very inspiring article. Like others, I'm also a very short-tempered person. but after reading this article I really feel a lot more different about myself and others. I have also tagged many people ard me because of their past mistakes, but now i will give them a chance to grow and change themselves. Thank you so much. You are doing a great job. Omshanti.

#24 2011-09-12 11:38 - Mridula

Very inspiring article! The key, I thought, lies in the statement - By recognizing ourselves as spiritual beings... Beautiful. Thanks a lot.

#23 2011-08-02 20:31 - sumeet

Superb article. It's really inspiring.

#22 2011-07-21 05:51 - Nithin

This ia a wonderful articles with practical examples. I, for a very long time, had anger as a way of 'normal' reaction to anything. Until recently, when I deposited my anger with Baba; and I now feel extremely light. What also breeds alongside anger is intolerance and impatience because both the latter traits can lead to anger.

#21 2011-05-02 11:50 - SHILA JAIN

Your article is fantastic and inspiring and makes one learn to control anger. Your ideologies are true & based on correctness.

#20 2011-04-04 11:35 - Siddhu
Om Shanti,
Before joining Om Shanti, I was very short-tempered, but now my temper has reduced more than 60% because of Rajyoga Meditation. If I had not joined Om Shanti, I do not know where I would be. Because of Shivababa I am living.
Thank You Shivababa for saving my life.Om Shanti is like a ray of hope for a dying person. Now my wife and my 4 year-old daughter are doing meditation every day.
My dream is that one day my daughter will become a Brahmakumari and serve Shivababa, spreading PEACE and TENSION FREE LIVING to all human beings.

Om Shanti,
Siddhu Bhai
#19 2011-02-22 11:41 - Farheen
Superb article, an eye opener! Truly enjoyed reading the article.
#18 2010-12-01 10:18 - G.R.
Actually it's true that trying to change others is not only a waste of energy and time, it also make us frustrated and mentally disturbed as well! This article has made me realize that I can't blame myself for another person's bad response. All I can do is to take responsibility for my own response. Thank you for such and enlightening article.

#17 2010-08-26 15:39 - uma
Must read.
#16 2010-07-23 13:58 - Helen
I just wanted to say thank you for this article. I came upon it in my hour of need when anger was not only ruining my days but also my life. Its not going to be easy, but when you're tired of running the same course, you can only but go another way.
#15 2010-07-14 23:41 - Dhaval Pachchigar
Om Shanti, In fact, anger is stronger than a nuclear weapon!
After reading this article, and before reading the other comments on it, I'll just share a simple thought: that through the third method described in the article, I am transforming into peaceful soul from an angry one.
#14 2010-07-11 11:28 - Sumit Dhall
Thanks for such a good article.
I am really moved, reading this article.
I am a follower of Brahma Kumaris in Australia.
I look forward to reading more articles on anger management on the site.
Kind Regards,
Sumit Dhall,
Sydney, Australia
#13 2010-06-27 19:25 - shiva
Respected Yogesh Sharda, Thank you very much for guiding people of the world. Brahma Kumaris' efforts will bring peace in people's minds all over the world. It is big effort that Brahma Kumaris is making. I wish you the best. I listen to the meditations and watch Shivani's programmes on Aastha channel (Indian TV). Thank you.
#12 2010-05-21 10:24 - Yogesh Sharda
"Response to Dheeraj Bhardwaj".

Many thanks for your comments and question, Dheeraj.

In our study, we understand that Inner Peace is already there within the soul - it just needs to be emerged and nourished. A way to do this is to make an appointment (at least 10 mins or so) with yourself every morning and every evening to experience Silence Time/Meditation. Allow the thought: "I am a being of Peace, a Peaceful soul" to enter your awareness- and dwell on this for a few minutes.....this awareness is like a key which opens the door to the treasure of Inner Peace. Then try to maintain this awareness as much as possible during the day - and in the evening, again sit down for 10 mins or so and consciously practise Meditation. With systematic regular practice, concentration improves and the experience becomes deeper and longer lasting.......
best wishes, and good luck!
#11 2010-05-19 09:57 - stella
What an amazing article! The stories helped it come alive for me as well and I've finally got to grips with a very difficult concept! I will now re read it many times - thanks so much!
#10 2010-05-18 04:08 - hansa
Wow that made for some amazing reading and so true to real life .Have been thru the 1st two stages and am doing a hop scotch dance to place my feet firmly in the 3rd stage.Am sure reading this article regularly will help me channelize this destructive emotion soon.
#9 2010-05-12 15:39 - vijay sarda
The article is very good and reminds me of the proverbs in the Gita.
#8 2010-05-12 13:53 - Dheeraj Bhardwaj
I totally agree with the article. I went through the third method and now I'm a happier man then before. But when I talked to some people about your article, some of them told me that they never feel their own inner peace. What can we do in such circumstances to make them more happy?
#7 2010-05-06 06:22 - Monika Sharda
Recently, like a pressure cooker that has too much steam inside, I burst into anger at the person who cares for me the most and never ever says a bad word to me. In that fit of anger, within only a few moments, I created such chaos. After that I repented and hated myself like anything for at least an hour.

This article has helped me understand where I was wrong. My Ego aggravated the anger!! So now I'm working on controlling both bad traits (ego as well as anger) so that i can live peacefully and let others around me also live peacefully. Thanks to the Almighty for somehow bringing this article in front of my sight.Thanks to Mr. Yogesh for writing it so nicely.
#6 2010-04-23 20:47 - Srisharada
Absolutely eye opening article. Full of food for thought. I've read this article today for the first time but i am going to make it a point to read it everyday because in todays age it has become a must to control one's anger. Anger in my perception is even more dangerous than a natural calamity.
Thank you very much for this invaluable contribution.

#5 2010-04-01 10:32 - lenz
I feel that this message should be sent all over-- especially to moms! I guarantee it will really be your shadow. Please try reading and applying it in your daily life. Thanks.
#4 2010-03-10 10:21 - Leon
I have found the article to be very refreshing and real. I read it twice and I will read it a few more times. From my personal experience, anger destroys your intellectual capacity. One should strive to conquer angry.
#3 2010-03-08 19:16 - Pınar Öztürk
I have read the article today which made a great and sudden impact on my current daily struggling. It is the first time I have realized clearly all the wrong believes behind the feeling of anger and the ways to combat with.

Thank you to my teacher Yogesh Sharda...
#2 2010-02-23 17:09 - narinder
I read this artical ten times.I get angery very quick when somebody says things about me which i am not even my family.I like to please others by not saying harsh words.Ithink iam in that situationlittle things make me angery.and i do not let go the hurt and become more angery.I will try this way.thank for the artical.