One of the greatest sources of tension in our world—both inner and outer—is anger. Whether it is expressed, or stays suppressed, anger will breed ill will and even death. If you have ever seen the list of crimes committed, you will know that almost all of them were committed in a fit of anger, or due to harbouring of deep-seated anger against someone. Anger can cause communities of people to rise in violence; it can vitiate relations between neighbours, nations and even spouses and within families. It is not hate but anger that is the greatest evil in the world, because unresolved anger converts to hate and thereon the spiral of hurt and pain starts.
Fortunately, not all of us actualise our anger or the world will be worse for it. As it is, we see enough of this across the world. Anger is infectious and can easily become a habit you fall into, triggered in certain situations by memories and experiences, fuelled by the ego and often by the world we live in.
We see a person or an action and it’s like a match being lit, the same old feelings rise up. Perhaps you have grown up with a parent who is hot-headed and you follow their lead, getting into fiery debates over the smallest things. A part of you thinks that no one will ever listen unless you raise your voice.
Or you’re not quite sure where your sudden bursts of anger come from; usually you’re a very calm person but when you see something that goes against your values, all those peaceful feelings fly out of the window and you just can’t help but blow your top. Have a think about it and you will begin to see the pattern behind your anger. There may be triggers that put your vulnerable ego on the defensive or certain things that you have very fixed beliefs about.
It is important to rationalise your feelings of anger before you can ever resolve them. Suppressing anger does not make you a better person, because it manifests in some other form. It makes you resentful, or cynical or leaves you with negative feelings that gnaw at your soul. Don’t battle with your anger, chastising yourself every time you let it surface. It’s not something you want to bury deep inside where it will literally eat away at you. Let it come and give it time to cool down. When you are feeling good about things, spend some time exploring why you get angry, what your triggers are and your habits.
As you become more aware, you might find that little things which used to make you angry no longer have such a powerful effect over you. As you loosen your attachments, begin to let go of your ego and see the world around you with increased understanding and appreciation, you might find you can see things with a fresh view and be less hasty to react. You will approach ‘problems’ with more creativity as you develop your inspirational mind, looking to finding a solution, rather than complaining.
Could you make a change in your life to help break the habit? Say you are filled with fury every time you see a teenager drop litter but feel powerless and even scared to say anything. Perhaps you might talk to others and find out a great way to inspire those teenagers rather than just wanting to shout at them. Reach past your judgement and think if there is some small way you can make a difference. That is when you will show the greatest compassion.
We often look for happiness in the wrong places; in what we don’t have rather than what is already right here in our lives. In the same way, if you turn over anger, like a coin, you may often find compassion has been there all along.
Parents and children might spend years living in anger with each other because of all their misunderstandings, when if only they knew to look there is always something they have in common, a seed of understanding they could nurture.
So remember that anger is a great teacher. Sometimes it is telling you that you need to think through something to find a better way, using your inspirational and practical mind. Sometimes it is letting you know your ego is still quite firmly in control. Either way, listen to your anger but don’t let it control you. Your life is too precious for that. The author is the spiritual head of the 1,000-year-old Drukpa Order based in the Himalayas