By Gopika Nath
Anger, if it is recognised and acknowledged, can become positive energy to enable us to change the situation we are angry about
I was angry with my friend I told my wrath, my wrath did end.
I was angry with my foe; I told it not, my wrath did grow.
And paradoxically someone has also said: ‘‘Speak when you are angry and you will make the best speech you will ever regret.’’ So how should one deal with emotions like anger, which if expressed wholeheartedly, can have negative implications and if these feelings are suppressed they eat away at us from within?
For every truth, the exact opposite is also a truth and balancing our lives between these paradoxes, is the middle path that spiritual seekers aspire for.
Anger, if it is recognised and acknowledged, can become positive energy to enable us to change the circumstance we are angry about. If we look closely at anger, it usually stems from a deep sense of hurt or rejection and the wrath is a defence for what is actually a very vulnerable state of mind.
For many years, almost 30, I did not know how to express anger. In fact, I was not even really aware of this eating away at me. When it started surfacing, I found it difficult to deal with this angry and unpleasant person that I now saw myself as. Even today, there is a sense of guilt for venting my feelings on someone else, when I am aware that people are only instruments in the hands of God. I find it difficult to tell someone that what they have said or done is not acceptable to me, because at some level, I do see that life has put this person into the orbit of my existence to do exactly this. Yet gradually the understanding dawned that if God has ordained someone to do something that is intended to teach me, then why was I not according myself a similar role in their lives? This really opened up my mind and thereafter it has become so much easier to express my views, and feelings, especially anger.
Feelings can only be expressed, if they are accessed. Feelings emanate from many stimuli but anger arises essentially when we find that we do not get our way. If we have enough sense of ourselves and attach an appropriate value for the way we feel, for what we believe we need, then we do discuss things. Situations get out of control when the people around us are not open to discussion, when they feel insecure in acknowledging our point of view or need.
This is when anger becomes a powerful tool. Through our expression of this we destroy someone’s sense of self so that they give credence to our feelings and need. Depending upon the legitimacy of our view, this is sometimes necessary. It requires courage, thought and wisdom. Anger which is expressed from the gut is not the same as anger expressed from the heart. This is another dimension of love, emanating from love for yourself and your needs and their validity in the face of denial and rejection, extended as love for other people and their place in our lives, which we do want to keep. If we did not, then we would distance them. This could be a way too. Being detached from achieving what we wanted in the first place, and also our self-image and its projection in any circumstance, is the key to responding appropriately to what the moment demands.
It sounds excessively complex, but if we are in sync with the depth of our beings and bereft of the need to salve the Ego, this action is effortless. It just happens. In fact, most of the time we do respond to situations without such premeditated thought. It is living with what we have done that could trouble us. Questioning this is legitimate, but deviating from the initial response because of guilt, inhibition or fear can result in impeding progress for this could convey a lack of conviction.
If, however, the anger seems unreasonable and not specifically arising from the situation it was expressed in, then a realisation of this would certainly be appropriate and should be conveyed.
Despite having accepted the positive dimensions of this negating emotion, I still feel that it is most effective if its usage is limited, especially in an intense form of expression. Someone who raves and rants at each little thing is generally ignored. It could easily become a perfect case of the infamous shepherd who cried wolf frequently without substance and this plea was then totally disregarded when a wolf actually did attack his flock of sheep.
Anger is wounding and conveys negative sentiments. No self-respecting human being is willing to subject himself to the company of people who get angry frequently for this also speaks of a lack of tolerance and a great deal of insecurity; unattractive in any human being.
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