Anger is the inability to bear a situation or an object. It may cause an intention to do harm to the object. Anger can manifest itself as an aversion – in its exaggerated form. It is next to lust and one of the major components of the lower (animal) instincts with which we are born with. It is one of the normal feelings of an individual. It is an emotion of displeasure. He who angers you conquers you. No man can think clearly when his fists are clenched. When we work through anger, our goal is to find other interpretations or conclusions so that our feelings of anger will be diminished in a calmer consideration of the situation.
ਮਨ ਮਹਿ ਕ੍ਰੋਧੁ ਮਹਾ ਅਹੰਕਾਰਾ ॥ ਪੂਜਾ ਕਰਹਿ ਬਹੁਤੁ ਬਿਸਥਾਰਾ ॥
Within the mind dwell anger and massive ego. Worship services are performed with great pomp and ceremony. —–Guru Arjan, Raag Parbhati, AGGS, Page, 1348-1
ਹੇ ਕਲਿ ਮੂਲ ਕ੍ਰੋਧੰ ਕਦੰਚ ਕਰੁਣਾ ਨ ਉਪਰਜਤੇ॥ਬਿਖਯੰਤ ਜੀਵੰ ਵਸ੍ਯ੍ਯੰ ਕਰੋਤਿ ਨਿਰਤ੍ਯ੍ਯੰ ਕਰੋਤਿ ਜਥਾ ਮਰਕਟਹ ॥
Hė kal mūl kroḏẖaŉ kaḏancẖ karuṇā na uparjaṯė. Bikẖyanṯ jīvaŉ vasyaŉ karoṯ nirṯyaŉ karoṯ jathā marakteh.
O, Anger, the source of strife, the person haunted by your presence within, never receives Akal Purkh’s Grace. As a matter of fact, whosoever comes under your control jumps and dances around like a monkey. —–Guru Arjan, Sloke Sahskriti, AGGS, Page, 1358-6
ਭੰਉਕੈ ਕੋਪੁ ਖੁਆਰੁ ਹੋਇ ਫਕੜੁ ਪਿਟੇ ਅੰਧੁ ॥ ਚੁਪੈ ਚੰਗਾ ਨਾਨਕਾ ਵਿਣੁ ਨਾਵੈ ਮੁਹਿ ਗੰਧੁ ॥
Bẖaŉukai kop kẖuār hoė fakaṛ pitė anḏẖ. Cẖupai cẖanga nānkā viṇ nāvai muhi ganḏẖ.
Anger barks and brings ruin on itself, blindly pursuing useless conflicts. It is good to be silent, O, Nanak; without the Name, one’s mouth spews forth only filth.
—–Guru Nanak, Raag Malar, AGGS, Page, 1288-13
Degrees or synonyms of anger:
Anger– in general, is strong displeasure.
>Rage or fury — implies intense explosion or destructive emotion.
>Ire is a term used in literature as in “to escape his ire,” seeming not too happy.
>Wrath — anger seeking vengeance or punishment e.g. Tsunami as a wrath of God.
>Resentment — smoldering anger by a sense of grievance.
>Indignation — is a righteous anger at something wrong, unjust, or evil.
Common contributors to anger are irritability, fatigue, hunger, pain, and sexual frustration. Hormonal changes associated with PMS, menopause and bipolar disorders. These cause an increase in the production of adrenaline by stimulating the hypothalamus and thus lead to an increased heart rate, respiration, and blood pressure. They affect the pupils and speech and affect various other organs of the body.
ਕਾਮੁ ਕਿਵਾਰੀ ਦੁਖੁ ਸੁਖੁ ਦਰਵਾਨੀ ਪਾਪੁ ਪੁੰਨੁ ਦਰਵਾਜਾ ॥ਕ੍ਰੋਧੁ ਪ੍ਰਧਾਨੁ ਮਹਾ ਬਡ ਦੁੰਦਰ ਤਹ ਮਨੁ ਮਾਵਾਸੀ ਰਾਜਾ ॥
Kām kivārī ḏukẖ sukẖ ḏarvānī pāp punn ḏarvājā. Kroḏẖ parḏẖān mahā bad ḏunḏar ṯah man māvāsī rājā.
Sexual desire is the window, pain and pleasure are the gate-keepers, and virtue and sin are the gates. Anger is the great supreme commander, full of argument and strife, and the mind is the rebel king there. —–Kabir, Raag Bhario, AGGS, Page, 1161-15 & 16
Anger should be regarded as just another feeling. It is perfectly normal to be angry at times. In fact, it is important to get angry sometimes. But anger must be released in the right way. Otherwise one with one’s resentments is not unlike a pot of boiling water with the lid left on. If the steam doesn’t escape, the water will finally boil over and blow its top! When that happens to you, it is no fun for anyone around.
ਕਲਿ ਕਲਵਾਲੀ ਕਾਮੁ ਮਦੁ ਮਨੂਆ ਪੀਵਣਹਾਰੁ ॥ ਕ੍ਰੋਧ ਕਟੋਰੀ ਮੋਹਿ ਭਰੀ ਪੀਲਾਵਾ ਅਹੰਕਾਰੁ ॥
Kal kalvālī kām maḏ manūā pīvaṇhār. Kroḏẖ katorī mohi bẖarī pīlāvā ahaŉkār.
The Dark Age of Kali Yuga is the vessel, filled with the wine of sexual desire; the mind is the drunkard. Anger is the cup, filled with emotional attachment, and egotism is the server.
—–Sloke Mardana 1, Raag Bihagra, AGGS, Page, 553-2
It is normal to feel disappointed and angry when things do not unfold as we expect or like. However, holding on to anger over something that occurred in our past can interfere with our present and causes unnecessary resentment. And resentment uses up emotional energy and allows negativity to creep into our present relationships and activities.
Never getting angry is impossible. Our reaction to it can make the situation better or worse. We should never let our anger control us. Let us take charge of it!
ਲਬੁ ਕੁਤਾ ਕੂੜੁ ਚੂਹੜਾ ਠਗਿ ਖਾਧਾ ਮੁਰਦਾਰੁ ॥ਪਰ ਨਿੰਦਾ ਪਰ ਮਲੁ ਮੁਖ ਸੁਧੀ ਅਗਨਿ ਕ੍ਰੋਧੁ ਚੰਡਾਲੁ ॥ ਰਸ ਕਸ ਆਪੁ ਸਲਾਹਣਾ ਏ ਕਰਮ ਮੇਰੇ ਕਰਤਾਰ ॥
Lab kuṯā kūṛ cẖūhṛā ṯẖag kẖāḏẖā murḏār. Par ninḏā par mal mukẖ suḏẖī agan kroḏẖ cẖandāl. Ras kas āp salāhṇā ė karam mėrė karṯār.
Greed is a dog; falsehood is a filthy street-sweeper. Cheating is eating a rotting carcass. Slandering others is putting the filth of others into your own mouth. The fire of anger is the outcast who burns dead bodies at the crematorium. I am caught in these tastes and flavors, and in self-conceited praise. These are my actions, O my Creator!
—–Guru Nanak, Siri Raag, AGGS, Page, 15-10
How much more grievous are the consequences of anger than the causes of it? Holding on to anger is like grasping a hot coal with the intent of throwing it at someone else; you are the one who gets burned. For every minute you remain angry, you give up sixty seconds of peace of mind. As stated earlier, he who angers you conquers you. No man can think clearly when his fists are clenched.
ਨਿਰਵੈਰੈ ਨਾਲਿ ਵੈਰੁ ਰਚਾਇਦਾ ਅਪਣੈ ਘਰਿ ਲੂਕੀ ਲਾਇ ॥ਅੰਤਰਿ ਕ੍ਰੋਧੁ ਅਹੰਕਾਰੁ ਹੈ ਅਨਦਿਨੁ ਜਲੈ ਸਦਾ ਦੁਖੁ ਪਾਇ ॥
Nirvairai nāl vair racẖāiḏā apṇai gẖar lūkī lāė. Anṯar kroḏẖ ahaŉkār hai anḏin jalai saḏā ḏukẖ pāė.
Whoever directs hatred against the Guru, who has no hatred at all, only sets his own home on fire. Anger and egotism are within him night and day; he burns, and suffers constant pain.
—–Guru Amardas, Sloke Vaaran To Vadheek, AGGS, Page, 1415-9 & 10
Common ineffective strategies for dealing with anger:
We run the risk of holding on to anger when we ineffectively deal with our anger in the present. Unfortunately, many people have not had the opportunity to develop positive and constructive strategies for handling anger. They turn, instead, to ineffective strategies such as:
- Avoidance- avoiding feelings of anger by not talking about what angers them or trying to push angry thoughts out of their minds.
- Punishing Others – dealing with anger indirectly through ‘punishing’ the person they are angry with. Punishment can take many forms such as sulking, holding a grudge, or not talking to the person (silent treatment) or an indirect way by ‘getting even’.
- Attacking – is a direct approach but counter-productive as anger is expressed using an aggressive tone or accusatory remarks.
Prevention of Anger:
ਪੰਡਿਤ ਬੇਦੁ ਬੀਚਾਰਿ ਪੰਡਿਤ ॥ਮਨ ਕਾ ਕ੍ਰੋਧੁ ਨਿਵਾਰਿ ਪੰਡਿਤ ॥
Pandiṯ bėḏ bīcẖār pandiṯ. Man kā kroḏẖ nivār pandiṯ.
O, Pundit, O religious scholar, contemplate the Vedas. Eradicate anger from your mind, O, Pundit. —–Guru Arjan, Raag Ramkali, AGGS, Page, 887-19
Coping with Anger;
ਬਕੈ ਨ ਬੋਲੈ ਖਿਮਾ ਧਨੁ ਸੰਗ੍ਰਹੈ ਤਾਮਸੁ ਨਾਮਿ ਜਲਾਏ ॥ ਧਨੁ ਗਿਰਹੀ ਸੰਨਿਆਸੀ ਜੋਗੀ ਜਿ ਹਰਿ ਚਰਣੀ ਚਿਤੁ ਲਾਏ ॥
Bakai na bolai kẖimā ḏẖan sangrahai ṯāmas nām jalāė. Ḏẖan girhī saniāsī jogī je har cẖarṇī cẖiṯ lāė.
A true Sanyaasi does not speak empty words; he gathers the wealth of tolerance, and burns away his anger with the Naam. Blessed is such a householder, Sanyaasi and Yogi, who focuses his consciousness on the Akal Purkh’s feet.
—–Guru Nanak, Raag Maru, AGGS, Page, 1013-10
Anger is probably the most poorly handled emotion in our society. From time to time we all experience this very powerful feeling. Some of the common causes of anger include frustration, hurt, annoyance, disappointment, harassment and threats. It is helpful to realize that anger can be our friend or foe, depending on how we express it. Knowing how to recognize and express it appropriately can help us to reach goals, handle emergencies, solve problems and even protect our health.
ਨਾਨਕ ਕਾਮਿ ਕ੍ਰੋਧਿ ਕਿਨੈ ਨ ਪਾਇਓ ਪੁਛਹੁ ਗਿਆਨੀ ਜਾਇ ॥
Nānak kām kroḏẖ kinai na pāio pucẖẖahu giānī jāė.
O, Nanak, through sexual desire and anger, no one has ever found God — go, and ask any wise man. —–Guru Amardas, Raag Bihagrha, AGGS, Page, 551-19
However, failure to recognize and understand our anger may lead to a variety of problems. Some experts believe that suppressed anger is an underlying cause of both anxiety and depression. Anger that is not expressed can disrupt relationships, affect thinking and behavior patterns, and create a variety of physical problems, such as high blood pressure, heart problems, headaches, skin disorders, and digestive problems. What’s even worse is the correlation between the dangers of uncontrolled anger and crime, emotional and physical abuse, and other violent behavior.
ਸਚੁ ਸੰਜਮੁ ਸਤਿਗੁਰੂ ਦੁਆਰੈ ॥ਹਉਮੈ ਕ੍ਰੋਧੁ ਸਬਦਿ ਨਿਵਾਰੈ ॥ਸਤਿਗੁਰੁ ਸੇਵਿ ਸਦਾ ਸੁਖੁ ਪਾਈਐ ਸੀਲੁ ਸੰਤੋਖੁ ਸਭੁ ਤਾਹਾ ਹੇ ॥
Sacẖ sanjam saṯgurū ḏuārai. Haumai kroḏẖ sabaḏ nivārai. Saṯgur sėv saḏā sukẖ pāīai sīl sanṯokẖ sabẖ ṯāhā hė.
Truth and self-control are found through the Door of the True Guru. Egotism and anger are silenced through the Sabd. Serving the True Guru, lasting peace is found; humility and contentment all come from Akal Purkh.
—–Guru Amardas, Raag Maru, AGGS, Page, 1057-17
Dealing with anger constructively;
Dealing with anger constructively involves communicating our feelings honestly and in a way that will not intentionally hurt the other person.
When there isn’t a happy ending…
There are times that even when we use a positive approach in dealing with anger, we may not get the results that we would like. Our positive efforts may not resolve the situation or restore the relationship. Although this may be disappointing, speaking our real feelings can give us the peace of mind that comes from acting true to our self and doing all that we could.
Letting go of anger and moving on;
Letting go of anger is a process that involves acknowledging, first, that ‘if I am not ready…or if I can’t do anything… or if I choose not to do anything directly about my anger, then I can work through my anger so that it does not continue to have a hold over me.’ When we feel anger, it is stimulated by what we are thinking about at that moment. Usually our anger provokes thoughts such as: How could he or she have done this to me? Or what a ridiculous decision? When we work through anger, our goal is to find other interpretations or conclusions so that our feelings of anger will be diminished when we think about the situation.
The process of working through and letting go of anger:
Begin by re-playing the situation from start to finish with the goal of thoroughly understanding what really happened. When we are angry about a situation, our focus is often on one small piece or a “snapshot” of a much larger motion picture. A narrow focus limits our capacity to understand and therefore work through our anger. One way that we can expand our understanding is to talk or write about the situation in detail as though someone other than our self was explaining what went on.
Gain further understanding of the situation by asking yourself, “What are my real feelings about this situation?” Anger is an intense emotion. It often overshadows other feelings such as hurt, embarrassment, shame or guilt that we may be experiencing simultaneously. Having any of these feelings in response to something that has occurred in our lives is very normal and natural. There are times when some of the anger that we are experiencing is anger at ourselves for our mistakes or omissions.
Take a very close look at your own involvement. Is there any way that I may have contributed to this situation? Intense anger has a way of blinding us from seeing our own mistakes in a situation.
Observe weaknesses in yourself and the others. One of the givens in life is that we all have strengths and we all have weaknesses. Recognizing the weaknesses of the others involved in the incident can assist us in understanding how and why someone said or did something that angered us.
Ask yourself, “Is there a way that I can constructively deal with my feelings at this time?” Even after passage of time since the incident, it can be beneficial to address the situation directly, by honestly and respectfully communicating your feelings to the person involved. It can be very helpful to talk this over with a friend or family member first, for support and for another perspective. Many times dealing directly with the matter is not possible as the person involved is not accessible, may not be receptive or they may no longer be living. We can gain similar benefits by writing down our feelings as though we were talking to the person directly. Write a letter but do not send it. Although this will not change the outcome of the situation, it commonly contributes to a sense of closure.
Think about how this experience has affected your views about life or people and ask, “Do I need to change my views?”
ਸੋ ਸੂਚਾ ਜਿ ਕਰੋਧੁ ਨਿਵਾਰੇ ॥ ਸਬਦੇ ਬੂਝੈ ਆਪੁ ਸਵਾਰੇ ॥
So sūcẖā je karoḏẖ nivārė. Sabḏė būjẖai āp savārė.
He alone is pure, who eradicates anger. He who realizes the Sabd reforms himself.
—–Guru Amardas, Raag Maru, AGGSD, Page, 1059-18
The final step in anger-management is forgiving those who have angered us. It is like letting a burden off from your shoulders. Now that you have taken steps to broaden your understanding of the situation, you are prepared to make different conclusions about the situation. Allow yourself to let go of anger and move on. Sometimes situations of anger are not so straightforward or are of long standing. They may be difficult to sort out on our own. We may need to get help in letting go. Many people benefit from consulting a professional counselor to discuss positive strategies for managing anger. He may also be of assistance in putting us back on track for a more productive life and work after the decks are cleared.
ਗੁਰਮੁਖਿ ਆਸ ਨਿਰਾਸ ਮਤਿ ਅਰਖੇਉ ਹੈ ॥ ਉਕਾਮ ਕਰੋਧ ਵਿਨਾਸ ਸਮੇਉ ਹੈ ॥
Gurmukh Aas Niraas Mat Arkheo Hai,Kaam Kroadh Vinaas Sifth Samaeo Hai.
The saintly persons are above and beyond the role of expectations; they are always in high spirits both in thought and action. Conquering the lust and anger they have absorbed themselves in the praises of God. —–Bhai Gurdas, Var 3, Pauri, 2