We all know how anger looks like and how it feels, but most certainly it doesn’t act out alike for everyone. Some may experience anger coming and going off just like a trivial hiccup, not causing any major disruption. But for some, it comes as a storm causing turbulence which they can’t handle and they […]

We all know how anger looks like and how it feels, but most certainly it doesn’t act out alike for everyone. Some may experience anger coming and going off just like a trivial hiccup, not causing any major disruption. But for some, it comes as a storm causing turbulence which they can’t handle and they get their frustration of not being able to contain this rage and they become angry birds, they slam doors, stomp out of the room, or throw a couple of things, while some freak out and when things get out of control, they get violent.

What do you do when you get really, and I mean really, angry about something or at someone? Do you instantly address the problem or confront the person head on without bothering if you stir a ruckus? Or do you prefer to shoot off angry texts, unleash raging emotions on your Facebook or Instagram, or do you wait till you meet your best friend and get your anger off of your chest over a glass of wine. And if you don’t react and respond to the anger in any of these ways, then maybe you’re like me, which means when you’re at your angriest, you tend to become the most silent person in the world. It’s true some people are able to vocalise their anger pretty well, while others like me hold it in.

We are the kinds who would bottle up our anger and we will replay what made us angry over and over in our head until we are able to ruminate the situation or person to death, and still we would act as if everything is fine, but anyone who knows us better can clearly see through us that something has caused an uproar within even though on the surface everything appears unruffled. To us it really doesn’t matter though, because we would be condemned to hell if we ever let anyone into our thoughts and let them truly know why we are so angry.

But does silence as response to anger equates to tranquillity or on the contrary, could it be that the person is accruing the hidden danger lurking within and is slowly becoming a ticking time bomb. People who silently hold their anger are often mistaken to be in control of their emotions. Only a few know that underneath this facade of composure lies a churning turmoil that can have intense repercussions on their mind, heart and soul.
Anger is a very powerful emotion and it resides within all of us. It is an inherent part of the human experience and while some may wear their emotions on their sleeves, many others may possess the remarkable ability to hold on to their anger inside, that quietly simmers beneath the surface. These suppressed emotions at some point in time may result into explosive, sudden, intense emotional meltdowns or sometimes outbursts, which may be disproportionate to whatever, may have been the immediate cause, the real cause being the pent up anger. When the emotional pressure reaches its breaking point, it often leads to emotional distress and nervous breakdown, making the same calm and serene people an emotional wreck.

Short tempered people react and confront before they can contemplate and people who hold their anger end up having a thousand conversations in their head about how to tell the offending person that they are being hurt by their words or actions.  We concern ourselves with the emotions of others who have offended us, they must not get upset or what if they get angry at us. We negate our anger and subside it and eventually the anger gets bottled up and we have moved on without making an effort to work through our anger.

I always thought that not reacting and responding to the anger I felt was my strength, well yes it was until I felt that keeping patience, calm and composure in the face of anger was my escapism because I was not able to process the anger and channel it. I was not free of anger instead the anger was transformed into begrudging people and situations including myself. The pent up emotions took the shape and form of resentment, disappointment, pain, and the feeling of being manipulated all the time that seeded anxiety and irritation. The reflections of all these unprocessed feelings around the anger started surfacing and affected my actions, action and largely the way I think about my own self and fear of losing control over my emotions.

For me, my biggest fear, as embarrassing as it may sound, was that if I expressed my anger to people I’m angry at, they would get offended and would not accept that they are the cause of any distress to me and if I choose to vent out and get something off of my chest, then it might scare the people I love and care for, and the people who matter the most may pull themselves away from me. The mere thought of making these people unhappy if they see my anger was scary and instead I choose to dump my anger, somewhere deep inside the depths of my heart. That became my coping mechanism with anger.

The journey to discover one’s self begins with self-examination of what we feel because the people and circumstances are just triggers, anger is deep rooted in our lives and the way we handle this anger too depends on what we need to learn from this anger on this journey called life. When we listen to our own self, more patiently, quietly, compassionately, we can harmonise ourselves even with our anger. We need to take responsibility for our own feelings and not try to fix the triggers; we need to fix the root cause of the anger.  Whenever, we encounter the feeling of rage flares up within,  sit with the anger, feel it, process it, live it and listen to it, what is it trying to tell you about the unhealthy patterns of behaviour we are trapped in. Try and understand what you are feeling at the moment, is it anger alone, or is it clubbed with frustration, sadness, bitterness, disrespect, resentment, jealousy, exhaustion, anxiety, or feeling of being misunderstood, unloved, abandoned or maybe we are simply driven by ego minds. Reflect deeply and repeatedly on why you feel this way? Have your boundaries been disrespected, violated or stepped upon? Are you trying to unload the past emotional baggage into the present situation? Are you playing victim that it happens to you only? Are you able to look at things as a single incidence or do you end up projecting blame shame and guilt on yourself and others? We may not get all answers at once, but gradually self-evaluating will go a long way to recognise what are my trigger points and how do I need to handle them without either getting driven by such emotions or try to draw them within. We don’t have much choice how people make us feel, but we do have a choice how we respond to such people.

The unspoken anger echoes the needs which were never fulfilled, the hurts that remained unhealed and the feelings which remained unacknowledged. They all need to be accepted, or else repressed emotions and anger when eruptions cause disruptions to the mind and the body of the one who stored these emotions, and also it wounds the souls of many who are but just witness to our lives.

Buddha once explained to his disciple one day while Buddha was walking through a village. A very angry and rude young man came up and began insulting him. “You have no right teaching others,” he shouted at Buddha. “You are as stupid as everyone else. You are nothing but a fake.” Buddha was not upset or angry by these insults and instead he smiled at the agitated young man and kept walking. When his disciple inquired Buddha how could he remain calm and smile at such insults, Buddha said to his disciple, “Tell me, if you buy a gift for someone, and that person does not take it, to whom does the gift belong?” The disciple was surprised to be asked such a strange question and answered, “It would belong to me, because I bought the gift.” The Buddha smiled and said, “That is correct. And it is exactly the same with our anger. If you become angry with me and I do not get insulted, then the anger falls back on you my dear.”

Don’t hold people, your relationships and circumstances in contempt for your anger or for how they make you feel. Don’t engage or hold on to what they throw at you, don’t become a part of their emotional drama. You create your own story to glory.