Written for Quora: How can I possibly get rid of all this anger I have?
Remember the last time you got possessed by the anger?
I forgot what the real anger is. The rage. I forgot about the hatred. I even forgot the feelings and sensations in the body associated with them. But I wasn’t always like this.
When I was younger I used to feel angry at many things. No one taught me how to control it and what should I do with it. I had to learn it the hard way.
You don’t have to.
If you know that you have certain issues, here is my take on the anger management, the mindset, and practices that you can start applying today.
Identify the reasons.
Take a paper and a pen and write down all of your thoughts on this matter. Don’t keep it in your head. Spit it out.
Why do you feel what you feel? When do you feel it?
You need to organize all your experience into a system.
What are the reasons?
Negativity/apathy/criticism/gossip/verbal abuse/physical abuse/lecturing/slander/manipulation/racism etc.
You name it.
Yes, it will certainly take some time, but once resolved it will liberate you forever and will give you a so desired clarity which is exactly what you need in the moments when the blur of rage is dimming your eyes.
People say: “When you are angry, count to ten. Take a deep breath.”
You can’t think of counting to ten when you already lost your center and are possessed by the anger.
Mindfulness is the only way to control your anger. Being mindful implies that instead of being an active participant of “the play” you need to become an observer.
This is how you do it.
Study the vocabulary.
The fundamentals of Emotional Intelligence suggest you to constantly increase your vocabulary to describe your emotions.
What is your anger? What exactly do you feel? You have to be very precise
Boiling mad/condemnation/resentment/impatience/defensiveness/anxiety etc.
Call it right.
If you close your eyes in when the anger or any emotion is at its maximum you will be able to associate it with a color.
For anger, red, orange, and yellow are the most common cases but there could be exceptions.
Identify the color of your anger. It will add up to the whole picture.
Emotion is a response of the mind on the sensation in the body.
Find where your anger is located in your body. Is it a raging fire in your belly? Is it a heart-pumping action? Is it a choking sensation in your throat? Locate and observe the sensation.
This is the most important step. Practice mindfulness meditations.
Meditations will strengthen your Internal Observer so that you don’t fall into reactions immediately but rather step back and watch from aside what is happening to you without engaging.
Even 10 minutes of vipassana meditation (concentration on the breath) a day will change your life forever.
Know your triggers
If you wrote down your reasons and are able now to identify the full profile of anger with the complete description it will be easy for you to detect what are the exact things that trigger the undesired reactions inside you.
What makes you angry? What are your triggers?
If you can’t — reframe their importance in your life. Think of them as a training in order to excel in self-control.
Understand that the primary victim of your anger will always be you. Setting yourself on fire is not the best strategy to throw fireballs at others. Being a host of anger makes you the primary victim. You will be the first one to deal with the consequences of your hasty thoughtless reactions.
Even when people do you wrong learn how to understand their motifs. Stay emotionless and ask yourself: “Why did they do this?” Even if you can’t justify their behavior there you don’t need to respond immediately. Take your time.
Use the Buddha’s mindset:
Karma has nothing to do with a religion, by karma I mean the inevitability of consequences following reasons.
It is a Universal Law, it means, it is like gravity —it is imperative, inexorable, unforgiving, and it works whether you believe in it or not.
If you are sure that people are wrong, you don’t have to be a “punishing hand of God” for them. If they did wrong to you they violated the balance and justice will find them in most cases in very surprising for both parties forms and shapes and unexpected times.
I used to feel anger towards people who wronged me. I just get disappointed. Now, I just think:
I am being kind to others and I do expect it in return. Kindness is a sign of high intelligence because kindness is the most efficient way to operate in this world. I honestly feel sorry for people who still don’t get it as it speaks for their level of personal development.
This is a little trick I picked up from the widespread practice in American schools.
In order to teach kids who swear a lot how to control their language teachers give them rubber bands which they are obliged to constantly wear on their wrists and hit themselves with them every time an “F-word” accidentally slips out.
Kids have higher behavioral flexibility and techniques like this one are the most efficient when applied in the young age but adults who know that they lack awareness will benefit from it as well.
Physical pain snaps you out from the illusion of thoughts. It increases your awareness as well as it also serves as a conditioning, a negative reinforcement of the desired behavior.
Zazen Buddhists monks are using the same technique in order to increase their presence in the moment. A head monk is hitting his apprentice with a stick during the meditation not as a punishment but in order to reinforce his presence in the moment.
Watch this video from 1:10:
After some time, wearing a rubber band will call for your attention more frequently and will become a reminder to stay alert of your emotions and present in the moment.
Give up eating meat
I wrote about the reasons why I don’t eat meat in a separate essay.
Removing the meat from your diet is a personal choice, it should be conscious and I have no intention to preach or even advocate it.
I just want to point out my observation that once I gave up eating meat I stopped to feel aggression, anxiety and have nightmares.
If you are seriously determined to resolve your anger management issues this is definitely something worth trying.
It works. Proven in practice.
These are the basics of emotional intelligence (EQ). By being able to give an emotion the right name, color, and locating it inside your body you will learn how to control it. Practicing meditations will put you on the unimaginably rewarding way of self-mastery where you will find a way to your True Self.
Anger management is a complex system, this is why I didn’t describe it as a step-by-step system. You need to battle it on all fronts simultaneously.
Read, study, educate yourself and most importantly practice. Without the latter all of the efforts are futile.