Anger is a human emotion that can wreak havoc. It can ruin relationships in the blink of an eye and hurt people irreparably. The tongue can inflict wounds deeper than the sword, as they say. In a few moments, irreversible damage can be inflicted. So extreme does this emotion become at times that a person physically abuses others and even goes as far as killing people.
The pinnacle of human dignity is to show patience and restraint when the adrenaline of anger pumps within us. We need to realize that if things are not going our way, then they are going God’s way. So why should a true believer vent his frustration when faced with unexpected situations? It is essential that a concerted plan be chalked out to manage our anger. Suggested below are some short term and long term measures to restrain this monster. Both these types of measures work in tandem and attention needs to be paid to both.
As far as the short term measures are concerned, they primarily relate to delaying our immediate reaction and response. They include:
i. Changing of posture: for example, if we are sitting, we should stand up and vice versa.
ii. Drawing deep breaths: it is recommended that we take ten deep breaths.
iii. Repeating relaxing phrases: we should slowly repeat a calming word or phrase such as: “relax” and “take it easy,” while we are breathing deeply.
iv. Drinking a glass of water.
v. Changing location: thus only leaving the place where one has experienced this surge in temper helps.
vi. Finding a physical release: It is suggested that “an anger workout” be done. Thus hitting a mattress with a tennis racket or slapping the sofa with a bat or punching a pillow releases the pressure built within us.
vii. Talking to God: some of the above measures may not completely release our anger, and in spite of controlling it for the time being one may find its surge arising later. In such cases, it is best to talk with God and share our pain and anguish with Him. Inevitably, we will feel relieved.
Some long term measures which can be useful to manage anger are as follows:
i. Figuring out what generally triggers our anger viz a viz our relatives and friends as well as situations: once we are able to calmly evaluate these triggers, we should try our best that we stay away from scenarios that cause these triggers.
ii. Giving ourselves positive messages: this is particularly useful when anger is caused by a person. In this regard, we should always look at the qualities of that person, and any benefit we may have received from him or her.
iii. Learning to relax in our lives: if we take regular time out in our daily routines to relax and enjoy we tend to become individuals who in general are not stressed out; a relaxed body has relaxed nerves that provide a tremendous buffer in critical situations.
iv. Visualizing our response: we should imagine and visualize what we should do when the crunch comes. We should decide that when it happens how we will react and what we will say. This may save us from spur of the moment flare ups which really can cause great harm and havoc.
v. Following exemplary people: we human beings are weak by nature and need encouragement and inspiration from role models. It is really worthwhile to read stories and anecdotes of people whose exemplary patience and forbearance in testing times make them unlikely victors.
vi. Reminding ourselves that no one is perfect: anger most of the time results because of various imperfections in life that we come across. We should continue to remind our selves that we have to live with imperfections – foremost with one’s own and remember that these may be a cause of anger for others. So if others tolerate us we should reciprocate this attitude.
vii. Learning to forgive: forgiveness mitigates anger. We expect God to forgive us for our own faults; all the more reason that we should forgive others in return for their faults and shortcomings.
These measures may prove helpful in restraining our fury. However, in spite of trying hard to contain anger, we humans can still err and lose our cool. And when we do, two things that befit us are:
i. We must always apologize to the aggrieved person.
ii. We should impose a monetary fine on ourselves and then spend the collected money in the interest and welfare of the aggrieved person.
Here is what some prophets of God say in this regard:
Muhammad (sws) is reported to have said that a strong person is not the one who defeats his rival in a duel; rather a strong person is the one who controls himself when he is angry1
Jesus (sws) is reported to have said: “Love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who persecute you.”2
David (sws) is reported to have said: “Cease from anger and forsake wrath; Do not fret; it leads only to evildoing. ”3
1. Abu ‘Abdullah Muhammad ibn Isma‘il al-Bukhari, Al-Jami‘ al-sahih, 3rd ed., vol. 5 (Beirut: Dar Ibn Kathir, 1987), 2267, (no. 5763).
2. Matthew, 5:44.
3. Psalms, 37:8.