I was walking down a long corridor the other day. It was the entrance way to a language learning institute here. Just ahead of me was this tall man in white satin robe. His head was covered in red chequered cloth and a black tussle. I was admiring his regal look as I was walking behind him. Then I came near the glass door that was to be pushed to enter the office of the institute. As this man was right in front of me – he pushed the door open, entered, then turned and slammed it back on my nose. I was standing right there !
We Indians sometimes lack the good manner of a polite smile at strangers in elevator, or holding the door open as we enter if there is another person right behind us. Many of us in India are born in a society and culture where etiquette is not taught, is not naturally prevalent. Doha is a rich country, with extremely polished and cultured people around. Still as an Indian expatriate I am being looked down upon !
Or is that how I think ?! If I could just as much bother to consider the fact that perhaps the gentleman ahead of me probably was simply unmindful, I wouldn’t have been so furious. Even if such a behaviour is ever purposeful, I should be able to understand that it is not me but the other person’s way of thinking.
Taking things personally and get helplessly angry is not a wise thing to do after all. However, most of the time in the heat of the moment we lack the insight to laugh at other’s mistake, and ourselves get miserably mad. Here I would try to give you a simple recipe of taking a chill pill. I do not like the term Anger Management, because it makes anger as important a thing like Business management. We do not need to focus on anger to eliminate anger. We need to focus on being cool, and neutral and in peace about things that we have no control over. Please be with me in this one, as I am not a psychiatrist, and explaining how to tackle anger problem might be a bit complicated.
Lets start with decoding anger first. So what the hell is this ? Any dictionary will give you thousands of synonyms like rage, annoyance, hostility, and on and on. Science will tell you that it is a normal human emotion. A primary basic instinct to survive and protect yourself. Sometimes, we too use phrases like, “I couldn’t help but get angry”, or something like “It’s because the way she behaved, its only natural that I would lose my cool”. But is Anger really a natural human emotion, something over which we have no control ?! Is expressing anger healthy ?
Refuting Science here, Spiritualists tells us something different. They say, like all negative emotions, anger too needs to be thrown out of our system in order to be happy, in peace and more importantly be in total control of ourselves. Anger is not a protective instinct, rather a destructive element predominantly to the one who harbours it. Following Mark Twain’s words, just as poison destroys its carrier vessel, anger destroys the one who harbours it.
New born babies kick-start their life by crying a lot. Have you, however, ever seen a newborn angry and hostile baby ? No. We are not born with anger as our innate emotion. Anger, just like jealousy is an acquired emotion that we develop as we grow up. A foreign element to the mind. Perhaps that is the reason why our body get all so tensed up and disturbed, our blood pressure rises and pulse heightens as soon as this foreign emotion enters our mind. We certainly don’t feel uncomfortable being over joyed ever, do we ! No. This is simply because peace is the normal state of human mind.
Why Do we get Angry
If feeling angry troubles our own mind so much, then why do we at all get angry ? In fact, on a closer look anger is nothing but misplaced sense of four different emotions:
Disappointment – When we keep expectations on something or somebody over which we have no control, more often than not we get disappointed. We try to control the situation in vain. We struggle hard to make things as per our expectations. We get enraged when the attempts fail.
Insecurity – We get angry when we feel uncertain on our abilities to protect our own ground, or territory.
Fear – When we feel threatened about ourselves or our loved ones
Pride – When we feel some one else has or is trying to damage our self-esteem
Irritability/Impatience – Any physical discomfort like hunger, or any ailment might decrease our normal threshold of tolerance, and we flip off for no apparent reason.
How does Anger harm ourselves
When we get angry, mind releases two adrenaline and cortisol hormones. These are the precious hormones that enable us to withstand stress and act accordingly. Now, what happens if you be under stress regularly ? Fatigue, headache, muscle spasm and then in the long run cardiac arrest, stroke, gastro-intestinal troubles, eating disorders and various other diseases. We slowly get into depression, alcoholism, substance abuse… This we all knew, but what we didn’t is being angry frequently also has the same effect on us. So, this might appear a good idea for an employer to show anger at his employee to get a work done faster, but perhaps it does more harm to himself then the person he is shouting at.
It’s exactly like quitting any bad habit. You just have to stop being angry in order to stop being angry. Okay, please don’t get mad at me, I know it’s not that simple. But I can promise you it will be, if we keep a few things in our mind at all time.
1.Be rational. We do not have control on anything or anybody other than ourselves. Instead of making another person act according to your expectation, try lowering your expectation for a change.
2. Maintain Balance. Do not give more than you are comfortable in giving. If you go out of your way in accommodating another person’s need over your own, you will start harbouring the same thing in return. Please do not do this.
3. Be assertive.Try to identify the primary feeling that is making you angry,and express that feeling only, without getting angry. Please do not feel vulnerable in expressing your true feeling to another person. Once you start doing this, you will feel you are feeling more in control of the situation than when you were getting angry. Because when we get angry, mostly we lose our composure and thereby the ability to express and comprehend the other person. Whereas, simply stating your primary emotions (as mentioned above) will make you appear assertive and confident. No one wants to mess with a calm and confident human being.
4. Change the Point of View. Instead of focussing on what you are feeling during an interaction, try to focus from where the other person is coming from. You might not be able to empathise, but just understanding another person’s reason for a particular behaviour might help you be less angry.
5. Analyse yourself. Yes of course we take a timeout and deep breath, then we count from 1 to 10, then from 10 to 100. Sometimes it helps, mostly not. Why not ? Instead of trying to visualise a calm place, why not utilise the time in replaying an argument in your head which just flipped you off a while back. Analyse it like a third person. You might feel totally justified for what you had said. But chances are that you might not feel the same way about how you have expressed yourself. And once again, do not focus on changing the other person; it’s not in your hand. How you respond to an action, however, is always in your control.
6. Keep passive aggressive behaviour under cheque. Expressing your disagreement or disapproval in a particular context or situation is important. Backing out or swallowing negative feelings does not make you a happy person and liked by all. It only turns you into a pushover with piled up negative emotions in your head. Now this pile of unexpressed anger will inevitably and eventually burst at the smallest of pretext, the day your bucket of tolerance will be full. This kind of passive-aggressive behaviour, will confuse people around you making you less admiring a person. Remember, all you needed was to be heard and understood.
So, this is how I prepare my chill pill soup. Hope I have been able to be of help. Only one last word. Super cool, Intelligent people do not react to anything, they respond ! Or sometimes, they simply choose to ignore.
This post was written in response to the Daily post Writing 201 Assignment .Instructional Piece – A How-To How-To