If a woman is a bundle of hormones, mankind is a bundle of emotions. Anger, pain, joy, surprise, disgust, fear, pity, nervousness, envy, grief, contempt, sadness, guilt, pride, shame, panic, even disinterest; we are often displaying one of these at every point it time.
Once our feelings are revealed, they cannot just be undone by clicking Ctrl Z; we have to live with the effect of our emotions. Anger has been said to be the most primitive of the human emotions such that even if a patient with dementia is losing it all (memory, orientation, cognition), anger seems to cling on tenaciously. It could range from fleeting irritation to fiery rage to a festering fury.
Different things trigger this outburst: fear, insecurity, poverty, frustration, ignorance, impatience, pride, misunderstanding, poor treatment by others, etc. Sometimes, anger gets us the attention we want, it makes us a ‘force to reckon with’, accords respect …or so we think. By far, majority of us regret actions done in anger.
Narrated by Abu Hurairah, the Prophet said: The strong is not he who overcomes people with his strength, but the strong is he who controls himself while in anger. – Sahih Bukhari Vol 8 Hadith 135
Being angry is normal but we should take charge of it and not let it boss us around. How we deal with our anger can make or mar our relationships. Flaring up instantaneously can trigger a stroke or heart attack in persons prone to it while repressing it can cause indigestion, insomnia, migraines, elevated blood pressure, or one could resort to khamr (intoxicants) to relieve the tension. However, constructively expressing the anger can be useful. Here are some tips:
• Count to 10 (or 100). Even better is to select dhikr like Subhanallah, Alhamdulillah, Allah akbar, Laailahailallah or something similar and count it to 10 (or 100). You may still need to tackle the offence immediately afterwards like if someone rear-ended your car, or your toddler just defecated in his shorts but by then, you should be calmer.
• De-stress. Remove yourself from that environment if you are really incensed. Take a deep calming breath and release it slowly. Pray. Listen to or recite the Qur’an. Sleep. Exercise. Write in your diary. Take out the trash. Swim. Play some nasheed, if you will.
• Identify your triggers. Some of us become testy when we are hungry, running late, driving home in rush hour traffic, preparing for a seminar, etc. Tackling, anticipating or avoiding such situations can be helpful like taking a taxi instead of driving, having snacks handy, rehearsing our presentation in front of a mirror.
• Voice out. This has to be done assertively not aggressively. Insist on your right but do not abuse other people’s rights either. Address the issue at hand, not old grievances.
• Don’t sweat the small stuff. Pick your battles. You don’t have to bark at every car like a dog. Overlook petty things. Try some humour or dry wit. Act like those Allah mentioned in the Qur’an 25.63.
• Accept. People are different; some can be more challenging than others. Accepting that your pregnant wife has mood swings due to her fluctuating hormones may help you stay calm when she fights with you then starts crying. Accepting that your child is merely acting her age will help your blood pressure. Accept that people will not always take your advice but will return when things get hairy from refusing the advice. Forgive them.
• Seek help. We need Allah’s Help to keep calm in spite of the circumstances. We may need anger management classes or marriage counselling or a maid. Don’t be afraid to seek help when necessary. Do not seek solace in intoxicants. They won’t help in the long run.
The flame of fury burns deep and scars our relationships. What is burnt cannot be returned to its former state. Don’t relinquish control of your anger to Shaytan. What if you did? Apologise to whoever you offended and return to Allah. He is Most Forgiving.