Anger management is extremely important to stay healthy. Otherwise anger can cause serious health issues such as high blood pressure, heart attack and stroke. I believe the so called Alzheimer’s dementia is in fact due to the cumulative damage to the memory cells of the brain, caused by the repeated outbursts of anger.
The Emotional Drama of Full-Blown Anger
When you are angry, you create huge stress for yourself and everyone else around you. In the grip of anger, your actions are completely illogical, but you don’t see it that way. However, someone else can readily see it.
In the heat of anger, you may spew out a flurry of insulting, hateful remarks which can provoke others. They get angry and return even stronger hateful and insulting remarks to you. If the drama of verbal violence continues, it often leads to physical violence.
Later on, when you come to your senses, you may regret what you said or did. That creates even more stress for you. “I am not a good person!” “How could I do that?” “I wish I could take back what I did.” “I really didn’t mean what I said.” In this way, once you come out of your state of anger, you get trapped by shame and guilt.
You may promise (one more time) to yourself and those around you that you will try to control your anger. In this regard, you may even get some counseling, attend an anger management seminar or read some books on how to control your anger. You try hard but before you know it, you lose control again and become angry. And the whole drama keeps repeating itself.
Frustrations And Annoyances
In a less dramatic version, you feel frustrated and annoyed. Often you keep it to yourself. This creates a constant sense of irritability and tension inside you. Sometimes, you verbalize your frustrations in a “civilized” manner. Often, others don’t seem to care or may even disagree with your point of view, which upsets you even more. You may promise yourself you’re not going to get into any arguments in order to keep peace. In this way, you suppress your anger – instead of properly managing it – in order to be civil and polite. However, you feel annoyed and irritated inside… And little things make you more irritated and annoyed.
Frustrations Can Lead To Weight Gain
You may pick up the phone and tell your side of the story to some friendly ears. You may finish half a carton of ice cream or a bag of potato chips or a bottle of wine to get some momentary relief from inner irritation. In fact, you stuff down your frustration and anger with food items.. . And the drama keeps repeating itself. Actually, you get even more annoyed at your weight gain or your drinking or any other addictive habits. Shame and guilt easily move in. You promise yourself and your loved ones that you will lose weight and be healthy, but keep losing the battle. This frustrates you even more.
In some cases, suppression of frustration and anger, especially from childhood, gets so deep that you have no clue where your “comfort eating” comes from. Many people get depressed.
Anger Management – A New Logical Approach
If you want to be free of anger, you need to take a close look at it, instead of running away from it. When you use logic and examine what underlies your frustration and anger, you find that it can be a product of one or a combination of the following components of your Acquired Self.
One of the basic reasons for frustrations and anger is your expectations. What is the basis of expectations? If you look at this question logically, you find that expectations really are a collection of concepts you acquire during your upbringing, which becomes part of your personality, which I like to call the Acquired Self. Why? Because we acquire it as we grow up in a society. We are not born with it.
The Book Of Role Descriptions
Concepts that drive expectations revolve around how others should behave towards you and how you should behave towards them. For example, you expect certain kinds of behavior from your spouse, parents, brothers, sisters, friends and colleagues and vice versa. In a way, society dictates how each of us should fulfill our role. In short, we can call it the book of role descriptions, written by the Society. Each and every person living in a particular society is downloaded with this book of role descriptions.
Basis Of Expectations
Everyone knows the description of his/her role and also knows the description of the role of others. For example, this book tells you how a wife should behave, how a husband should behave, how a parent should behave, how a friend should behave, how a child should behave, how a teacher should behave, how a doctor should behave, etc. Automatically it gives rise to certain expectations.
Basis Of Judging
You expect others to play their part right, by the book. They expect you to play your role right. In other words, everyone is judging everyone else. This is the basis of Judging. All morality is derived from this book of role descriptions. If there was no book of role descriptions, there would be no judging; there would be no morality.
Now what happens if someone doesn’t play their part right? You get frustrated and at times, angry. It’s actually your Acquired Self who feels let down, frustrated and angry, because it is the Acquired Self who builds up expectations. Your Acquired Self believes in all of the ideas contained in the book of role descriptions.
The closer the relationship, the higher the expectations… And more emotional pain if someone does not meet your expectations. This emotional pain manifests as annoyances, frustrations and anger.
Be Free from Expectations to Manage Your Anger
Obviously, you need to be free of expectations if you are serious abput your anger management. You may hear someone advise that “you shouldn’t have any expectations.” But why not, you ask? Aren’t expectations part of normal daily living?
It is true that most of the world revolves around expectations. Why? Because most of the world is in the grip of the Acquired Self, the conditioned mind. That is one major reason why most people feel frustrated, annoyed and angry. Only if people knew that their True Self has no expectations whatsoever! It’s the Acquired Self who builds up all of the expectations and gets hurt when these expectations are not met.
With this realization, you can be free of expectations because they are not part of who you truly are. You can simply let go of the parasite that is hurting you. Once you get rid of the root cause, then frustration, annoyance and anger simply do not arise. Then you don’t have to practice certain techniques of anger management.
Another common reason for anger and frustration is self-righteousness.
What is self-righteousness? In simple terms, it means “I am right.” It also implies that “you are wrong.” Obviously, this is the root cause of all disagreements, disputes, arguments, quarrels, fights, lawsuits, battles and wars, all of which obviously create a huge amount of anger.
With few exceptions, everyone suffers from self-righteousness. Interestingly, people don’t like to be called self-righteous because it’s considered a bad quality. They simply judge others to be self-righteous and don’t go any deeper. Actually, they believe they are right that someone else is self-righteous. Interesting, isn’t it?
Self-righteousness is a common affliction and one of the reasons for all human conflicts. If we want to understand human conflicts, it makes sense to look at self-righteousness more deeply.
What is the Basis of Self-Righteousness?
Why do we believe that we are right and others are wrong? For example, for the same event, different people will have different opinions. Each one believes that he is right and others are wrong. The event is the same, but its interpretations are very different. Obviously, the problem lies in the interpretations.
Typically when a person looks at an event, he interprets that event against the background of the already stored information and emotions in his Acquired Self. Obviously, this stored information and emotions varies from person to person. Therefore, interpretation of the same event varies from person to person. With few exceptions, it is the Acquired Self who interprets events. As majority of people are in the grip of their Acquired Self, they strongly believe that their interpretation of the event is right.
In the grip of self-righteousness, you are constantly annoyed and at times angry at those who do not believe in the same concepts as you do. Your Acquired Self believes that you are right and others are wrong.
In a given society, there are collective concepts about what is right and what is wrong. This creates a collective self-righteousness, which gets reinforced constantly by the news-media in that society. What is right in one society may be wrong in another society. This creates conflict between various societies. That’s why people living in one society get angry at another society. This is the basis of collective conflict, anger and violence between various nations.
True Freedom from Self-Righteousness
For proper anger management, you need to be free of self-righteousness. But here is the biggest dilemma – when you strongly believe you are right, how can you ever admit that you are not right? That’s why most people continue to suffer from self-righteousness and its consequences of anger and even hate.
If you are willing to entertain the idea that you may not be right, then there is a chance that you may be free of the prison of self-righteousness. If you are willing to use logic , then you will see the root cause of self-righteousness, as we observed earlier.
Once you have a logical insight into the mechanics of self-righteousness, you will happily get out of the prison of self-righteousness. With that, anger automatically dies out.
Another reason why people get angry is their deep seated fear, but they usually don’t know it. Usually, the more short tempered a person is on the surface, the more fearful he is inside. Expressing anger outwardly is a gesture of extreme insecurity inside. People try to scare others with their anger while they are fearful themselves. How ironic!
Most people don’t even realize that their “bursts of anger” are actually arising out of a volcano of fear and insecurity.
If you are serious about anger management, you need to get to the bottom of the root causes of your anger. Quite likely, you will find that you feel quite fearful and insecure inside when you are angry.
The Root Cause of Fear
Fear actually arises from the memory of a bad event, which has become part of your Acquired Self. Consequently, an inner voice says, “this should never happen to me again”. However, then comes another thought – “what if” and that creates a huge amount of fear. In this way, your Acquired Self becomes quite insecure. Hence, it seeks security. In the pursuit of security, it wants to control the behavior of others. However, when it can’t control others, it gets very angry. Even a trigger in the form of a news article or a story that reminds the Acquired Self that it cannot control others, can throw it into a rage.
True Freedom from Fear
People often try to conquer their fear by one technique or another. It may work temporarily but sooner or later, they are back in the grip of their fear.
Only when you know the root cause of fear, you can be free of it once and for all. Then, there is no need to learn various techniques to control your fear for anger management.
As we observed, fear arises from some bad memory in the past and the mind generating more thoughts in its effort to learn from it and prevent similar bad things from happening again. You must realize that a “bad event” is not happening at this moment any longer. It happened, yes, but is not happening at this moment. However, your mind is keeping it alive. Otherwise, it is dead and gone. This realization will free you completely from fear.
Because the memory of a bad event does not control your mind any more, there is no need to think this may happen again. Obviously, then your mind does not create more thoughts on how to prevent it. That’s how the whole infrastructure of anger simply crumbles and you get the ultimate anger management.
Another reason why people get angry is insults. Obviously, you get angry when someone insults you. You may or may not express your anger.
Many people fight back by returning insulting remarks or gestures. Also, there are those who pretend to be polite and civilized on the surface, while fuming with anger underneath. Later, they often express their anger while talking to their spouse or friends. Some even suppress anger so deeply that on the surface, they manage to remain polite and civilized all the time. They may even try to fake a smile, but deep inside, they feel irritated and don’t even know why they feel that way!
What is the Basis of Insults?
In order to be truly free of insults – as a part of your anger management – you first need to figure out, “who is it inside you who gets insulted in the first place.”
Use logic and you will find that it’s your Acquired Self who gets insulted. The True Self never gets insulted. Why do I say that? Because a newborn baby never gets insulted. You can try to insult a baby by saying whatever you want, but the baby will not be insulted. In the same way, imagine some one trying to insult you in a language or through gestures that you don’t understand. Obviously, you will not be insulted. Therefore, we can conclude that for the insult to occur, one has to understand the concepts attached to those words and gestures. Otherwise, they have no power.
Who Gets Insulted?
Where do you learn the words and gestures and all of the concepts attached to them? You are not born with them. You obviously learn them as you grow up in a certain society. That’s why it is logical to conclude it’s your Acquired Self who gets insulted.
With every word, there is a concept attached. For example, the word STUPID has a whole concept of un-intelligence, inadequacy and worthlessness attached to it. When your developing Acquired Self learns this word, it stores all the negative concepts attached to the word. When someone calls you by that word, the negative concept attached to that word triggers negative emotions. Then, you feel unintelligent, worthless, inadequate and angry. You didn’t deserve it. How dare someone say that to you.
True Freedom from Insults
Obviously, you need to get free of insults if you want to manage your stress, isn’t it!
Is it possible to be free of insults? The answer is yes, but only when you get to the root of the problem. When you realize that it is your Acquired Self that gets insulted, you can be free of insults by freeing yourself from your Acquired Self. Then, you realize that it is your Acquired Self who is holding onto painful memories of insults. Those painful experiences are not happening in the present moment, but only happening in your head. This simple realization can free you of the huge load of painful memories. You also realize that you don’t have to keep proving your worth. The need for praise simply vanishes. Then, you don’t react to remarks of praise or insult. People can say whatever they want: it does not make you elated or angry.
Excerpts from my book, “Stress Cure Now.”