Harness your anger | Sunday Observer

Harness your anger

13 August, 2023

One day I witnessed a family drama at a supermarket. A young mother was pushing a trolley with her child in it. The child grabbed a box of chocolates and was about to open it. “Put it back!” shouted the mother. “But I want it!” he whined clinging tightly to his proud possession. “Put it back!” Mother shouted again her anger taking over. The child threw the box of chocolates away and started crying bitterly. The mother got hold of her son and slapped him.

Losing your temper is quite common. When your body is in a state of edginess something triggers an emotional hijacking. Anger builds up with great intensity. When you get angry you behave irrationally. The danger is that anger builds on anger and the emotional brain heats up. By then rage, unhampered by reason, easily erupts in violence.

Psychologists say that everyone gets angry and that the way we handle anger may make the difference between sickness and health, senseless destruction and constructive activity, happiness and despair. It is important to know that you are getting angry. Suppressed anger can harm your own health. Therefore, you have to know how to handle your feelings of anger in a healthy manner.


Some people do not know the extent of their rage in a given situation. Such people are usually calm and quiet, but when they lose their temper, they do not know what they are doing. According to behavioural scientists, anger plays a major role in accidents. A driver at the wheel is more likely to meet with an accident if he is in an angry mood. In a study carried out at the University of Michigan’s Medical School, it was found that a group of drivers involved in fatal accidents showed evidence of anger more than a comparable group. Curiously, when you are angry, you are not aware of it.

Unexpressed anger can be a major cause of stomach ulcers, high blood pressure or migraine headaches. Indeed many cases of illness are due to not so much to what the patient eats, but rather what is eating the patient. When a student fails in an examination, his frustration is followed by anger. As it is a common phenomenon, everyone has to learn how to harness their anger to work for them.

This can be done in many ways. First of all, you have to recognise that anger is quite a normal emotion. You will hardly meet a person who has never been angry. People waiting in a long queue usually get angry over unimportant matters. If a person does not get what he wanted after waiting in a queue for a long time, he will naturally blow a fuse. Such people sometimes have no control of themselves. They act on the spur of the moment and regret their misdeeds later.


Very often we get angry with people we love and care for. As a result, parents punish their children and married couples go for divorce. Therefore, try to find out what you are angry about. Very often people let out their anger at the wrong time, wrong people or wrong cause. Unfortunately, angry people do not try to find the real cause of their frustration. You may have seen teachers screaming at their students. Small children usually get terrified by their behaviour. We should try to find why they act is such ways.

Unexpressed anger can accumulate. Many people try to remain silent when they are angry. However, expressing your anger in a harmless way can produce some relief. Many parents tell their children how to express their anger in a non-violent way. One method is to go for a walk or engage in some pleasurable activity. After some time your anger will subside. An honest venting of anger can, like a summer thunderstorm, refresh the atmosphere and create a warm communication.

If you are angry with your boss, discuss the matter with him in a relaxed way. When you air your grievances without bitterness even your boss will feel that he should treat you differently. This reminds me of the truth contained in the poem by William Blake:

I was angry with my friend;
I told my wrath, my wrath did end.
I was angry with my foe;
I told it not, my wrath did grow.

Thus unresolved anger is like a time bomb. Unless it is defused, it can destroy your relationship with anyone.


We often see people protesting against injustice, bureaucratic bungling or political favouritism. Police always try to stop their shouting of slogans and marching forward. When it happens protesters might look for other outlets. Giving vent to rage – catharsis – is sometimes extolled as a way of handling anger. However, psychologists present an argument against catharsis. They say ventilating anger is one of the worst ways to cool down. Outbursts of rage typically pump up the emotional brain’s arousal, leaving people angrier than they were before.

Chogyam Trungpa, a Tibetan teacher, says, “Don’t suppress anger, but act on it.” When Rip van Winkle returned home after 20 years, he found that his ill-tempered wife had died of apoplexy. It took a long time for scientists to realise the truth behind the folk wisdom – the person who frequently explodes mentally is emotionally at risk of exploding physically – for apoplexy is a kind of physical explosion, a bursting of a blood vessel in the brain. Anger affects your health leading to high blood pressure and coronary heart diseases.

Anger does not come in isolation. It is associated with other emotions, behaviour and physical reactions. When the person against whom you wish to show anger is in a dominating position, the anger is often expressed indirectly. For instance, when your boss pulls you up, you get angry, but you do not show it. Sometimes you will take it out on someone else below your rank. Those who are above you can shout at you because they are in a dominating position.


We often get angry when others criticise us. However, criticism cannot affect your self-esteem which remains independent of others’ opinions. If you lack self-esteem, others can rub you up the wrong way. People respond to criticism in different ways. Some of them immediately mount a counter-attack. By doing so, they may be able to get their critics off their back.

However, the critics will come back with better ammunition. Therefore, you have to respond to your critics appropriately.

There are certain ways to manage your anger. One way is to respond positively to criticism. People criticise you because you are an important person. Another way is to help anger simmer down. Why do you want to waste your energy by being tense and anxious? When others criticise you, try to relax. Anger is a sudden release of energy which can be used for some creative work. Martin Luther said, “When I am angry, I can write, pray and preach well for them my whole temperament is quickened, my understanding sharpened and temptation gone.”

If you learn the art of forgiving, you will not get angry easily. When you feel outraged, you will feel deep pain. When you forgive your opponents and critics, you simply bring fairness into an unfair world. When you forgive, you do a great service to humanity as well.

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