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Sunday, September 26, 2010

The Demons Within 1: Anger

“Krodhat bhavati sammohah sammohat smriti-vibhramah: Smritibhramsat buddhinaso buddhinasat pranasyati.”
“From anger comes delusion, from delusion, the loss of memory; from loss of memory, the destruction of discrimination; from destruction of discrimination he perishes.”
--The Bhagavat Gita.

When a child throws a tantrum, the parents advise the child not to lose his/her temper, not to get angry. Scriptures and fables warn us against the negative effects of anger on our minds, bodies, and daily lives. Indeed, anger is something that can blind us, take control of us, and lead us to our downfall. 
Yet, in spite of all the advice, all the anger-management lessons, many of us often forget about our temper when the time comes to control it. We lose ourselves in rage, we shout, cry, swear, maybe even get violent, and make an embarrassing mess of ourselves. We spoil the day for us, and for everyone around us. Our reputation is shattered by our lack of mastery over our tempers.
Anger is not the same at all times: the violent impulse to throw something, the quiet boiling rage that hurts such a lot, the creeping grudge, the vile hatred that slinks its way in --they're all different. However, the one they harm the most? In every case, the person who is angry.
Remedies too, do not lack variety, ranging from deep breaths, imagining a red dot fading to white and drinking water to shopping sprees, meditation, and therapy. However, don't they say that prevention is better than cure? Anger is not exempt from the scope of this maxim. A person with a short temper should learn to identify the causes of anger and to nullify them, before going in for remedy.
The first cause of anger is, well, the immediate/apparent cause. The particular word, occurrence, sight, that sets you off. Such provocations are not within our control in most situations, true. However, more broadly speaking, we can make it a point to give people less cause to provoke us. "Do unto others, as you would wish them to do unto you"; lower-school value education.
Second, we have the real/long-term cause. Short-tempered friend out there, have you noticed that your fuse is thinner on some days than on others? If you look carefully, you will find that those are the days when you scored badly, had a quarrel... maybe even your parents quarrelled. An atmosphere of negative vibes, a negative occurrence, or a previous eruption of anger affects our temper much more than we realise. Nullification exercise? Learn to put things behind you and deal with low points in your life maturely.
Thirdly, the transformed emotion. Often, you won't realise why you are suddenly feeling angry. Why, out of the blue, something makes you feel like launching into a tirade of expletives, or storming out and slamming the door. An insight may often show you that you weren't angry at all --you were hurt, embarrassed, sad --and somehow this feeling morphed into anger, without your knowledge. This has the highest chance of happening when expressing the true feeling can belittle you in public; in such cases your sub-conscious self-respect (ego?) steps in and your irritation at feeling something belittling comes up front as anger. The only way out of this is self-knowledge. You should have enough realisation of our own emotions to know how you feel, if you feel it strongly, and how you want to react.
These are all the ways of preventing anger that I learnt from experience of dealing with angry friends, family (oh, my mother's father's side!) and sometimes even the angry me. I'm no self-improvement guru, but then, anger management doesn't always need one. All this really works. You only need to know where your problem lies. And when it doesn't, we can always go for  meditation, shopping spree, 10-step-anger-management-guru...
But just don't be angry. It harms, you, you and only you. On the negative, you will achieve nothing. Showing false anger sometimes can get little jobs done, but that is a whole another, ahem, blog post.

Gita Quote Courtesy: Article by Swami Sivananda
Images Courtesy: Google Image Search 'anger'


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