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 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. 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. You say or do something that you never intended to… And the whole drama keeps repeating itself.
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 in order to be civil and polite. However, you feel annoyed and irritated inside… And little things make you more irritated and annoyed.
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, the Monster within.
One of the basic reasons for frustrations and anger is your expectations. You had certain expectations which did not come through and that’s why you feel frustrated and angry.
What is the basis of expectations? What do we really mean by expectations? If you look at this question logically, you find that expectations really are a collection of ideas and concepts you acquire during your upbringing. These become part of your Acquired Self, the Monster within.
These concepts 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. We can call it the book of role descriptions, written by the Society Monster. Each and every person living in a particular society is downloaded with this book of role descriptions.
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.
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.
- A spouse falling off the ladder of expectations is the most frequent cause of divorce. It goes something like this: In a marriage, as soon as the period of intense sexual romance has cooled, the two monsters show their faces. Now each spouse starts seeing faults in the other person as the person is not living up to expectations. This initially causes annoyance which continues to build up in the memory box and eventually leads to pain and anger. Then one day, there is a big blow up and the marriage ends up in a divorce. Your Monster of expectations is very judgmental and always finds faults in others. Interestingly, it does not see any faults with itself.
- Brothers, sisters and close friends get mad and angry if their expectations are not met. Sometimes they end up losing lifelong relationships.
- Kids failing to meet the expectations of their parents cause a lot of pain and suffering for their parents as well as themselves. For example, parents expected their son to become a doctor, but the son got poor grades in school. This caused severe headaches and ugly arguments between the son and his parents.
- Parents expected their daughter to marry someone they thought suitable for her, but she married someone else. Another cause for anger and pain.
- A wife expected a gift on her birthday but didn’t get anything. The result? Hurt, pain and anger.
- A husband expected his wife to be nice to his rowdy buddies, but she called them immature dirt bags which caused a huge argument, pain and anger.
- An employee expected a raise, but didn’t get one which caused pain and resentment.
- A person expected wonderful golden years after retirement, but ended up having cancer which resulted in bitterness and anger in addition to the pain of the news of cancer.
- A patient expected a high level of care from his doctor. However, he found out his doctor actually provided poor care. The result? A lot of anger and often a reason for a lawsuit if you live in U.S.A.
- In addition to their own personal life, people also build expectations around political and religious figures, movie stars, singers, artists, etc. and get very disappointed and angry if their icon doesn’t live up to their expectations. Some even get so angry that they end up killing their icon.
- People also create expectations around political, economic and religious systems and get very upset once their expectations are not fulfilled.
- People even have expectations about “how long they will live.” It is called life-expectancy. We feel cheated if someone close to us dies before they were supposed to.
The Society Monster promises you that you will be rewarded if you follow the rules and punished if you don’t. Now what happens if you follow the rules and don’t get rewarded and someone who doesn’t follow the rules gets rewarded? You get very upset and angry.
For example, you are an honest person suffering economic hardships while some crooked, dishonest liar is rolling in money. “Life isn’t fair” you may find yourself saying. You feel very disappointed and angry at life.
True Freedom from Expectations
To be free of annoyance and anger, you need to be free of expectations. 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? How can you even function if there are no expectations?
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 to be free of anger.
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.” 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 don’t think they are self-righteous, but they readily see it in others. 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 an extremely 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. Now who is it that is doing the interpretation? It’s your Acquired Self, isn’t it? What is the Acquired Self? It’s knowledge, concepts, ideas and stories about your own experiences, others experiences and collective human experiences, etc. Basically it consists of tons and tons of information and associated emotions residing inside you which you acquire as you grow up.
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. A majority of people are in the grip of their Acquired Selves. They completely identify with their Acquired Self. That’s who they believe they are! Therefore, they strongly believe that their interpretation of the event is right.
If we look deeper at the composition of a person’s Acquired Self, we find that the book of role descriptions is an important part of it. This book, as we observed earlier, describes how a person should and should not behave in a given society. In addition to creating expectations, it also provides a background against which everyone keeps judging others behavior. It tells you and everyone else “what is right and what is wrong”; “what is virtue and what is evil.” This is the basis of morality.
These are basically concepts given to you by your Society Monster. Using these concepts, everyone judges others and society judges everyone living in it. Now, if you are in the total grip of your Acquired Self, you believe these concepts to be the truth. You honestly believe that you are right, because you believe in certain concepts and those who don’t believe in those concepts are wrong. Which of course is self-righteousness.
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 addition to the book of role descriptions, your Society Monster also downloads into your Acquired Monster, many other concepts. For example, it gives you the concepts about “your rights,” “human rights” and “animal rights.” All of these concepts become part of your Acquired Self and give you more ammunition to be right. These concepts strengthen your self-righteousness.
When you are in the grip of your Acquired Self, theses concepts become your beliefs. When others don’t follow what you believe in, you get frustrated and angry.
In addition, your Society Monster downloads into your Acquired Self the knowledge of history, which primarily is an interpretation of certain events by the Acquired Self of the historian-writer. That is the reason why there are so many different interpretations of the same events and of course, every historian believes he is right. The historian’s interpretation of events becomes part of your Acquired Self and you believe them to be absolutely true (although the event may have happened before you and the historian were even born). Different Acquired Selves with different versions of the same historic event or historic figure then get into heated arguments and get angry at each other.
With this background, your Acquired Self also judges current political events. Usually, it is some so called expert who does it for you, on a TV show, in a newspaper or in a book. Acquired Selves with different versions of history interpret current events differently and each one believes he is right. With this background, people get into heated arguments and get mad and angry at each other.
It is interesting to note that 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.
Then, within a given society, there are various concepts about what is right and what is wrong, depending upon various social, political and religious groups in that society. This creates conflict, anger and violence between various groups within a society.
Then within a group, there are various concepts about what is right and what is wrong. Therefore, within the same group, people get angry and fight among each other. Even within a family, there are various concepts about what is right and what is wrong. It leads to conflict, anger and violence (usually verbal but sometimes even physical) between various members of the same family. For example, you may be a strong believer of animal rights and your husband may not agree with you. This could lead to a serious argument and verbal conflict.
Then, within an individual, there are conflicting concepts what is right and what is wrong. There is one code of ethics for the work place and another one for home, one code of ethics for friends and another one for enemies, one standard for yourself and another one for everyone else.
It all boils down to “I, My, Me, Mine” Syndrome. Based on the concepts attached to “I, My, Me, Mine,” you judge everyone else out there as either your friend or enemy. That’s how you perceive other people – as either your friends or your enemies: at home, in your neighborhood, at your work place, in your social, political or religious group, in your country and in the world. You stay annoyed and angry at your enemies, which often leads to violence, verbal as well as physical.
True Freedom from Self-Righteousness
If you want to be free of self-righteousness, you need to first admit that you are suffering from self-righteousness. And 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 (not intellectual rationalization, which is simply a product of acquired knowledge), then you will see the root cause of self-righteousness, as we observed earlier in the chapter.
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 getting to the bottom of the root causes of your anger, you have to examine yourself sincerely. Quite likely, you will find that you feel quite fearful and insecure inside.
The Root Cause of Fear
Fear actually arises from the memory of a bad event, which has become part of your Acquired Self. Your Acquired Self learns from this bad event and 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.
A father sees a program about teenagers frequently using illegal drugs and how it adversely affects their life. His Acquired Self absorbs this story and makes it part of itself, as if this was his own experience. Then comes another thought – “this should never happen to my son.” He tells his son not to mix with certain kinds of people at school. “In this way I should be able to prevent my son from taking drugs.” Then one day he sees his son with a shady character which triggers “what if my son is on drugs” and that thought triggers a huge amount of fear in him. Seeing that he has no control over his son’s behavior makes him very insecure inside. However, outwardly, he will have an outburst of anger at his son.
Collectively, groups of people holding onto their collective past get fearful with thoughts of “what if it happens again.” Hence, they want to secure their future by controlling the behavior of others. Any reminder that they can’t control the behavior of others creates a wave of fear, which can express as anger and can lead to violence against another group of people.
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.
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. It is being kept alive only through the activity of your mind. Otherwise, in reality, 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 and 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 freedom from fear.
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?
Is it possible for you to never be insulted? I’m not talking about suppressing your anger and pretending that you are not insulted, but in reality – to not actually feel insulted at all when someone insults you.
In order to be truly free of insults, 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.
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 monster 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 is activated and negative thoughts trigger negative emotions. You feel unintelligent, worthless, inadequate and angry. You didn’t deserve it. How dare someone say that to you. Actually, your monster’s sense of self-esteem is threatened. Therefore, your monster fights back verbally or even physically in order to secure its existence, its self-esteem.
The insulting words are created by the Society Monster for the individual monsters to fight with each other, aren’t they?
Society’s Collective Acquired Self downloads the concept of “insult and respect” into your Acquired Self. When others respect you, your Acquired Self feels validated and when others insult you, your Acquired Self feels humiliated. In other words, your Acquired Self is constantly reacting to how others treat it. Your Acquired Self wants to be respected and not be insulted. Obviously, it has no control over others’ behavior, but it doesn’t know this basic fact. It just keep searching for respect and running away from insult. It is especially true if at an early age you were insulted (teased) a lot. Your Acquired Self felt humiliated and all of those painful experiences become part of your Acquired Self. Then, your Acquired Self found a way (academics, sports, arts, etc.) for others to start respecting you. Your Acquired Self finally got the praise and validation it was so hungry for. Naturally, your Acquired Self works hard on this track and usually ends up being quite accomplished and successful in that field. With each step of success, it gets more respect, praise and validation and it loves it all. The more it gets attached to respect, the more it resents the idea of insult. Then, a trivial teasing remark can upset your Acquired Self for days. You may even burst into anger in a social situation where you didn’t get enough respect, which you perceive as an insult.
True Freedom from Insults
Often, others (usually those who care about you) can see your over-reactions and suggest anger management. So you try the usual venues society offers such as counseling, books, seminars, etc., but nothing really works for you. Sooner or later, you again explode in a rage or you sizzle inside over some insulting remark someone made days ago. Often, you get even more annoyed, even ashamed, that you are holding grudges, because you know that’s a bad thing. Most people stay trapped in the prison of insults for the rest of their life.
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 when it felt insulted. 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 and being praised by others. 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.
Free of your Acquired Self, you live in joy, peace and bliss that is never threatened.
Once you fully realize the mechanics of insulting words, you’ll laugh (in your head) when someone uses an insulting remark, won’t you? Because you will see that the other person’s Acquired Self is doing what it has been conditioned to do and in reality, it does not mean a thing. Then there is no need to fight back.
It is quite likely that even with all this wisdom, your Acquired Self will get engaged and fight back next time you’re insulted. However, minutes or even hours later, you may be able to see the “real mechanics of insult.”
The moment you see insult in its true colors, you’ll be free of it, instead of fuming for days. Next time, in the middle of an insult, you may see your own Acquired Self getting engaged and trying to fight back. Simply seeing your monster in action will free you of its tight hold on you. You may actually burst into laughter. In this way, no one will be able to insult you. People may try to insult you, but you won’t get insulted.
Q: I can’t accept the fact that there are so many bad people in the world. How can I not be angry?
A: If you stay angry because there are so many bad people in the world, you are simply hurting yourself. It doesn’t solve any problem, does it? Some people get so angry they may individually or collectively resort to violence, but it still doesn’t solve the problem. Violence begets more violence.
Instead of being angry, isn’t it worthwhile to examine why people act in a bad way? If you truly want to understand why some people have bad behavior, you have to leave the usual explanations for bad behavior behind and take a fresh look using your own logic, not what you have been told.
If you use logic, then you will find that the root cause of all bad behavior is in fact, the individual Acquired Self, as well as the Collective Acquired Self. Look deeply and you will find that the underlying cause for bad behavior is greed, ego, selfishness, self-righteousness, anger, hate, jealousy or fear. All of these are products of the Acquired Self. Therefore, the world cannot be free of bad behavior as long as it is in the grip of the Acquired Self. When you are in the grip of the Acquired Self, you see faults with everyone except yourself. The fact is that everyone who is in the grip of the Acquired Self ends up with so called bad behavior whether he admits it or not.
You cannot force people to get rid of their Acquired Self. This kind of behavior is actually a desire to control others’ behavior and it comes out of your own Acquired Self and is very tempting. Once you see that bad human behavior arises out of selfishness, greed, ego, insecurity, desire to control others, self-righteousness, anger, hate, bitterness and fear, you get enlightened. However, often it lasts for only a brief period.
Before you know it, self-righteousness and ego creep back in without you being aware of it. Then, you start to think that you’re right and the entire world is wrong and you become angry at the whole world… or you get the urge to awaken the entire world from their deep psychological sleep.
Just remember, whenever you think you’re right and others are wrong, you are in the grip of your self-righteousness. When you think you have to accomplish some heroic mission, you are in the grip of your ego.
All you should be concerned with is to free yourself from your own Acquired Self and that’s it. You change the world inside you, and that’s all. The outside world is a reflection of the world inside you.
Unfortunately, most people blame others for all the problems in the world and want to change others’ behaviors except their own. This is the strategy of the Acquired Self. It does not work, but helps to perpetuate and even worsen bad behavior.
It doesn’t mean that you can’t stop someone who, for example, is trying to rob you. You will automatically do whatever needs to be done when a real situation arises. What you need to do is to free yourself from all hypothetical situations, stories and concepts that your conditioned mind creates for you, which, of course, it does with the help of the Society Monster in the form of news media, books, the internet, etc.
Excerpts from my book, “Stress Cure Now.”
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