Anger is a strong feeling of displeasure and belligerence aroused by a wrong or perceived wrong.
How do you feel when you are angry? Do you feel a burning sensation? Do you feel tense? Does your heart race? Do you feel like striking out?
We’ve all been angry. It can be an uncomfortable emotion. If we don’t take care of it properly, our anger will not let us be in peace. It will eat at us and make us miserable. If we don’t diffuse it, time and again it will rear its ugly head to bring us all the uncomfortable physical and mental effects. Imagine a time when you swallowed your anger, then it came back to you later. What happened when it came back to you? Did you berate the object of your anger to other people? Were they in turn angry and upset too? Or did they try to distance themselves from such negativity? Did you spend your time plotting revenge? Did all the burning and heart pounding rack your body with tension? Were you happy? Of course, there is no happiness in all this.
You can take care of your anger in such a way as to turn it into something positive. Instead of acting on your anger, put some distance between yourself and the person or situation that is sparking your anger. This is a time to practice conscious breathing to calm yourself. Thich Nhat Hanh, Buddhist monk and teacher, instructs us in the art of acknowledging our anger “Breathing in, I know that anger has manifested in me; breathing out, I smile towards my anger.” Your anger may stay with you for some time. This is OK. As you practice breathing, you will see that your anger begins to lessen. The burning feelings and pounding heart start to ease up. Once you are in a place where you are calm and relaxed, analyze, in a nonjudgmental way, the situation that led to your anger. You may then be able to look upon the events that led to your anger with compassion and understanding.
When you are in a calm frame of mind, it is much easier to look dispassionately upon the circumstances that led up to your anger. You may find something you did provoked a response from another. You may realize that the thing that angered you was a result of miscommunication or misperception. You may see that the situation arose due to the suffering of the other party. When you can see the root cause that led to your anger, you can then act in compassion and understanding. It was your anger, then, that led you to better understanding, as you needed to take time to take care of your anger. As you took care of it, you thought critically about the events and that promoted understanding. Understanding is the positive that has arisen from your anger.