Explosive words can’t be taken back, rage can damage relationships and hard work, but attention and practice can help control disturbed feelings, says Ambica Gulati
“Why did I lose my temper?” I looked at myself in the mirror. I didn’t have an answer. I was traveling with a group. Though we were acquainted, we were traveling together for the first time. Travel is a great teacher. It opens our eyes, minds and hearts to many things. It teaches us to blend and bend. It also springs surprises and you see the truth about people. Sometimes that truth is hard to swallow and even though you try to suppress that bitterness, it can be a volatile practice. While getting into quarrels isn’t a good idea, it does need patience to get out of an uncomfortable situation.
After years of practice, I thought I had mastered the art of self control. But rage can be overwhelming, especially when nurtured silently. It starts with a small negative thought, or pattern and as you let that negativity stay inside you, it escalates into a volcano. And then the eruption has long-term impact.
Definition of Anger
The dictionary defines anger as “a strong feeling that makes you want to hurt someone or be unpleasant because of something unfair or unkind that has happened”. And psychologists and psychiatrists define anger as ‘strong feeling of annoyance, displeasure, or hostility” and this feeling rises when a person feels threatened or disturbed. For each individual, the situation or behaviour leading to anger is different. And a certain amount of anger is healthy, provided it is dealt with in a balanced manner.
Personally, I feel anger has a range. During youth, when the energy is at the peak, anger leads to more destruction. With experience, anger starts to tone down and it leads to messy and sometimes reparable circumstances. I also believe anger has a time limit, at least for me, as I tend to take anger as a lesson learned. I might not forget the incident over time, but I do remember to keep my distance with the thought that escalated the feeling.
What does anger do?
Anger when managed is a constructive tool. It can help us break away from toxic situations and people, build new things and be a go-getter. But when it transforms into heavy and misdirected energy, anger can be a destructive force. It leads to many problems, both mental and physical. It damages relationships, leads to health issues such as high blood pressure and takes a toll on mental health. If the patterns are recurring, then anger is toxic.
How did I control my anger?
When I started working, anger needed to be handled. It was creating problems with colleagues. Over time, I began reading about anger management. And then adopted some practices.
1. Finding and overcoming the trigger: With the help of a workshop, I realized that I needed to figure out what made me angry. Most of anger was directed to difference in opinions. I didn’t have to prove a point all the time; it wasn’t important to win the game every time. We are all products of our circumstances and shaped by our environment and exposure. We need to be at different levels to make a wonderful world. We have to agree to disagree and move on.
2. Music: It has been scientifically proven that music has the ability to change our brain waves. But when we are angry, relaxing music such as sounds of flutes or waves, doesn’t seem appealing. However, if we listen to such music on a regular basis, our mind will calm down and we will not get disturbed easily.
3. Meditation: This is another practice that needs to done on a regular basis to regulate our thoughts. There are different kinds of meditation such as visualization, breathwork, chanting Aum. And it’s only over time, we see our thoughts changing and the disturbance in our heart and mind subsiding.
4. Affirmations: Find some positive affirmations on a good day, in fact create one for yourself. ‘I am a calm soul’, ‘I like to handle differences in an agreeable manner’, ‘All is Well’. And I find the best way to affirm is to stand in front of the mirror daily and say it to yourself at least 15 times, slowly absorbing the calmness and seeing anger melt out of your life.
5. Nature Therapy: Ever imagined a picnic in green environs with friends and family, a good laugh and lots of games? Well, that’s what you need to do daily. Walk around in the neighbourhood park, adopt some plants and care for them. Go on nature retreats and feel the greens washing out the patterns that trouble you.
6. Walking and Talking: The best thing to do in an uncomfortable situation is to take a walk. This not only walks out the pent-up energy, it also moves the mind to other things. And you can also talk to yourself. Take some deep breaths, practice your calm affirmations, listen to some music or FM and leave the troubled situation behind for a few moments.
7. Read motivational books, see good programmes: We are shaped by our environment, remember. So, reading about the masters such as Sri Aurobindo, Ramana Maharishi, Swami Vivekananda is inspirational. It is a beginning to channeling your energy to larger aspects of life. Similarly, seeing programmes that promote joyful living such as comedy shows helps in calming the mind.
But it’s only practice, practice and more practice that controls the ego, the heart and the mind. With each step, reward yourself for being able to control your feelings. Detach yourself from the situation and observe it. The solution shall come. And then the journey to good days begins. Be mindful and anger will no longer be an enemy.
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A journalist and a blogger, Ambica has learned that the journey of life is full of hiccups. A happy soul, she finds solace in writing and photography. You can read her stories on https://atravellerswishlist.com/