We all get angry – sometimes, every day! It is not unusual or out of the way, but it would be good to experience anger with awareness.

Some of us take time to reach the proverbial boiling point. Yet when it goes there, the anger scorches and scalds us, and those around us. Others get angry quickly, and simmer down just as soon.  However, it all starts again senselessly. 

Is there some way out of this repetitive cycle? Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar answers these niggling questions on anger, and suggests ways to overcome the fiery emotion.

Anger depends on your strength, degree of attachment and your understanding of life. 

Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar

Your anger is directed at…

What do you get angry with? People, incidences, situations? You, obviously, cannot get angry with objects. So, your anger is all directed at people or situations. YOU are also included in those people – either you are angry at yourself, or someone else. Just, wake up and see: both are meaningless and useless. 

Getting angry: The road to & fro

Is it possible to never get angry? What has your experience been so far? As a child, when your toy was snatched away from you, you got angry. You screamed when milk, food, toffees or toys were not provided on time. Haven’t you done that? Yes, you have done it. Then in your school, college, workplace and, also, with your friends, you have experienced anger. So, anger is a commonly-experienced emotion.

It’s important to come out of anger soon. 

What is the frequency with which you get angry? The frequency of your anger is inversely proportional to your strength. The stronger you are, the less prone you are to anger; the weaker you are, the more prone you are to anger. You need to look at this: Where is your strength? Why are you losing it? 

The second factor is your vision, and your in-depth understanding of life and people around you. This also plays a part.

The third is your attachment – attachment evokes anger in you. The degree of attachment – to what you want. So, behind your anger, there is desire. You must recognize that. If it is for your comfort, desire or ego, you have a different reaction. But, if your anger is out of compassion, if your anger has a purpose to set things right, it is different. This sort of anger is not a bad emotion.

Using anger as a tool for a positive change

Anger needs to be streamlined. Don’t let anger use you. Instead, you can use anger as an instrument whenever it is needed. 

Don’t think that anger is bad all the time. If it is sparingly used, it is precious and valuable. On the other hand, if it is used every day, it has no value. Rather, it brings down your value.

Suppressed anger about the past

How can you get rid of suppressed anger from the past? If you think you have suppressed anger, and that it has to come out through catharsis… it is never-ending. It is like trying to stop the waves in the ocean!

Anger is not separate energy. It is one energy, which manifests as anger, and as compassion; as love, and as generosity. It is not two different energies. Rather, it is one energy assuming different colors. Just as it is the same electricity that is used for the refrigerator, lights, and fans. 

Don’t let yourself think that you have suppressed anger. If you grow in wisdom, and your eyes open to the truth and reality, you will see that your anger of the past was your foolishness and lack of wisdom.

Dealing with angry people

How do you deal with angry people? Just watch them and have fun! Just like you play with crackers in Diwali: you go near them, light them and then you run away! And then, you have fun. Watch from a distance! You should do the same with angry people. Just see that there are no precious things around them, as you don’t burst crackers on an expensive carpet or inside the house! You take it to the garden or do it on the streets. In the same way, you should have fun with angry people; without them, there is no fun in the world!

It is good that you did not react in the past. If you had expressed your anger, you would have regretted it. Don’t see it as suppressed anger. Somewhere, your intellect was smart enough to not react at those angry moments. See it as your advantage, not as your weakness. If you did not react out of anger, you have been wise.

The myth that your anger is justified…

Expressing your anger is not going to correct the other person, nor is it going to make your life better. These sort of terms – suppressing anger – are half-baked psychology. Only with wisdom, can you realize the way things are, and your reaction is always detrimental to your growth. You should act and not react. Suppressed anger is all about reaction. If you have not reacted, that’s good!

Q. How intelligent is it to be angry about the past? 
Gurudev: Is there anything to benefit from being angry about the past? 

There is a story about Mullah Nassurudin. His son was about to handle an expensive piece of electronic equipment, and he slapped his son! When asked why he did that, he replied, “What’s the fun of slapping him after it has broken?!

It is a sign of foolishness to be angry about something that has happened in the past. People ask me if I don’t get angry. But, what should I be angry about? The past that has already gone? You get angry at something which is happening in the present. But reacting to anger with anger…what foolishness! If somebody makes a mistake over and over, you can show anger, but don’t get carried away with it. 

Arogya vardhak gussa – Healthy anger is that which stays only as long as a line drawn on water stays.

It doesn’t mean you do not show anger when someone is wrong, but it is unintelligent to get carried away with it. Sadhana protects your mind from any vikara i.e. distortion that takes you away from your self.

The high road away from your anger

When anger comes, it is difficult to control. When it goes, it is followed by guilt. How do you get out of this cycle of anger and guilt? If you express your anger, you feel guilty. If you don’t express it, you feel you have suppressed it. To rise above both, see life from a different perspective – assume a broader outlook. 

If you change the context of your life, you will not see life as a struggle. You will see that these emotions don’t really bind you or make you feel guilty or suffocated. They are only decorations. Decorations, really, don’t matter to the substance that is there. It’s like making different colours on the icing of the cake. 

Start your journey to overcome your anger by learning Sudarshan Kriya. Click here to learn more.