Anger is a wild fire, a forest fire that spreads from shrub to shrub, from tree to tree, consuming everything that comes in its way. Anger creates a chain reaction. Someone gets mad at me; I must take it out on someone else; otherwise it will keep on seething within me. That someone else must have it out on yet another person. And the chain reaction goes on! A boss gets angry with an assistant: the anger is not justified. The poor assistant can’t respond. All that anger keeps on seething within him. As he returns home, he lets it out on his spouse. The spouse takes it out on someone else. And the chain reaction goes on. The fire keeps on spreading.
On the surface, we are good and virtuous. But, within each one of us, are hidden many weaknesses and imperfections. When we are angry, the worst elements within us are manifested. Therefore, burn anger before anger burns you.
When a person gets angry, he activates certain glands in the body. This leads to an outpouring of adrenaline and other stress hormones, with noticeable physical consequences. The face reddens, blood pressure increases, the voice rises to a higher pitch, breathing becomes faster and deeper, the heart beats become harder, the muscles of the arms and legs tighten. The body moves into an excited state.
If a man gives in to anger, all these processes are repeated again and again, and the man is surely heading towards serious health problems. The cumulative effect of the hormones released during anger episodes can add to the risk of coronary and other life-threatening diseases, including strokes, ulcers, and high blood pressure. It is, therefore, in your own interest that you learn to control—or, in any case, reduce your anger.
Research has proved that people who are quickly prone to anger get heart attacks more easily than those that are not so easily prone to anger. It has been proven that when a person is calm, peaceful and happy, the digestive processes work normally. When man comes under the influence of anger, the digestive processes are paralyzed. Therefore, doctors recommend that you should be cheerful and in good humor when you eat. If you don’t feel cheerful, it is better that you eat at a later time. Stomach ulcers are caused by anger. They recur if the resentment continues.
Anger affects the entire body, for anger is poison. I read about a mother who was given to frequent bouts of anger. Her infant often received milk from her when she was in one of her angry moods. Soon the baby got very sick. Anger throws poison into the blood stream.
There are three ways of handling anger. There is, firstly, the way of expression. Psychiatrists tell us that it is good to express anger. Expression gives you relief, for you get some satisfaction at having given a piece of your mind to the other person. This relief, however, is temporary. Resentments build up again, and you are ready for another spill out. Gradually, anger becomes a habit; a time comes when you become a slave to anger. You are controlled by anger; and anger is a terrible master. Expression of anger is not the right way. Expression is very much like a cyst. You have it operated upon and get relief for some time; but the cyst gets filled up again, and you are in for another operation!
The second is the way of suppression. It, too, is not the right way. Suppression drives anger into the subconscious: there it works its subconscious havoc. Resentments that are pushed into the subconscious may develop into a complex and affect our behavior and attitude towards life.
The right way is the way of forgiveness, patience and forbearance. Forgive and be free! Every night, before you retire, actually go over the happenings of the day. Has someone cheated you? Has someone offended you? Has someone hurt you or ill-treated you? Call out that person’s name and say, “I forgive you!” You will have a peaceful sleep and beautiful dreams. The right way to overcome anger is through forgiveness.
It is not individuals or situations that cause anger. It is one’s own reaction or response to individuals and situations that determines whether we will be angry or not.
Universally acclaimed humanitarian, philosopher, educator, writer, orator and non-sectarian spiritual leader, Dada J. P. Vaswani headed the Sadhu Vaswani Mission. He was a recipient of the Paul Harris Fellowship, Prani Mitra Award, U Thant Peace Award, and Sant Shri Dnyaneshwar World Peace Prize. Dada authored over 85 books in English, many which have been translated into international languages. sadhuvaswani.org