PALLAVI MISRA CHATURVEDI
Emotions are often defined as complex state of feelings that result in physical and psychological changes that condition thought and behavior. According to author David G. Meyers, human emotion involves "...physiological arousal, expressive behaviors, and conscious experience."
Emotions also come in various shapes and sizes. There are some that are high in voltage and a few others which just pass by without being noticed. Some stay for very long duration like depression and some like embarrassment are fleeting and just come and go.
Vincent Van Gogh once said, “Let’s not forget that the little emotions are the great captains of our lives and we obey them without realizing it (1889)”. Most of us do not understand why we feel the way that we feel most of the time, and this makes managing our emotions somewhat difficult.
One such havoc-causing emotion is anger. Even though it is widely prevalent, anger is not a primary emotion. Actually, it is the expression of other emotions. It is only when you identify that underlying experience and its corresponding response, that you can stop your explosions.
When do we get angry? We get angry when somebody hurts us, when others do not behave the way we expect them to, when situations are out of control, when we are fearful. By and large, anger can be an expression of sadness, fear, jealousy, anxiety, frustration, disappointment, guilt, hurt, shame or embarrassment. However, a common characteristic to this prevalent outburst is that it is definitely something beyond our control or that it does not suit our comfort zone.
Anger, though is considered a very powerful tool. It helps us in getting control over people or situations. We can get things done and set people right, just by using this one powerful emotion. However, the bone of contention lies somewhere else. If anger was all that useful, how could it be harmful? After all, it helps us succeed or at least get the desired outcome.
Let us first analyse its physical repercussions. Every time we are angry, we find our heart racing, we are shouting, almost ready to hit somebody, trembling and perspiring profusely. We try to look larger and beastly. We want others to feel intimidated.
For instance, when we are angry at our little ones, we want them to learn what we wish to teach and in the process, also respect us. We all have been brought up being fed with the belief that we must respect our elders. If we do not listen to what they are saying, it is a disrespect.
Now, respect is something which is positive. But, as kids, we listen to our parents out of fear because otherwise they will be angry. They become fearful of our position and just do as we say. There is no respect. Hence, anger leads to a constant fear. MISSION FAILED! The day they stop feeling scared or intimidated by our position, they will stop listening to you.
While I was pursuing my MBA, I had a marketing professor who would never get angry. He had this charm about himself. Despite of all the freedom, we all sat in pin drop silence during his class. Even he enjoyed our respect outside the class. This was the kind of respect that we generally did not feel for others. So what was that he did differently? He had such confidence in his subject that he knew we would follow him. He knew without shouting or getting angry we would submit our assignments.
This is what we lack in ourselves. If what we deliver or expect, adds value to the other party, they would never hesitate in accepting our position. However, we lack faith in our own self. We are not sure if we are expecting the right things or giving the right suggestions. With all this mess within us, we spew anger at others for not taking us seriously.
We try to gain control over others and in the process lose control on ourselves. We must understand this deeply. When we try to find control in something which is not in our hands, we let ourselves become weak. We try to enforce it through anger. This shows that we have a huge void within. We are looking for power on the outside instead of the inside.
We seek power and respect through anger. Sadly, we see that people are now listening to us. So we deduce anger is just fine. We start using anger as a tool in every small and big situation and it soon becomes a demon. We are so controlling and negative that people fear us. They try to avoid us. They stop giving suggestions and just follow. To this, we foolishly think that we have become superior which actually, is a false sense of being.
Actually, they are just trying to adjust so that peace prevails. It is not love, respect or understanding. They stop taking us seriously. They will stop paying any heed to what you think or say, the moment you lose that position of superiority in office or any other relationship. We lose a great deal of our identity under the influence of this extremely powerful emotion.
We are actually becoming a victim of anger and in the process losing our self worth, confidence and true power. We are becoming hostile and more fragile. We should feel powerful irrespective of outside situations, but, we feel power only when others allow us to exercise power over them. Power should make you feel stronger, content and confident; but this false power that we have gained through exercising anger makes us feel drained, creates false ego and slowly converts us into an irritable, angry, hollow, low-on-self-esteem and underconfident. It is emotion that is self destructive.
However, at times, you must be assertive to be able to discipline. But understand, getting angry is not assertion. You do not have to lose your calm while you address an issue. You do not need to shout, scream, hit or run to conclusions. You do not need to blame. Assertiveness comes from patience. We all must learn to create a dialogue. Like I mentioned earlier, if we can manage to show value in a proposition, others will definitely do it. If they do not do it still, let them be. Generation today always learns from their faults. Try to show them the potholes but do not push them aside from their path. After all, their own journey will chisel them into who they are.
I recently heard a speech about anger management. The speaker said “gussa ata nahin hai, hum gussa karte hain...”. It is our voluntary choice. If our boss bashes us in front of the entire office, can we afford to shout, scream or get angry? No. On the other hand, if our children commit even the smallest of mistakes, we take the liberty of getting angry. Getting angry is a choice that we make.
There are ways that can help us work through anger but first we must learn to take responsibility of our behaviour. Primarily, we need to accept that we have anger and we need to learn to manage it.
You may try taking a meta-moment. It is that small little time gap that you must learn to take between a stimulus and your reaction. Count till 10, like wiser people say. It will help you detach. I suggest that take a step back physically if you must, but, take a moment before you react. Learn to respond. Actually, respond how your better self would have responded. It will help you improve as a person. It is futile that you shout, scream, beat, yell or even cry.
Secondly, take a deep breath. Keep breathing before you respond. It will supply more oxygen to your brain and help you think better. It will also soothe the physical symptoms of anger.
Thirdly, take a bird’s eye view. I have learnt in past few years to stop giving any reaction whatsoever when I feel the urge of getting angry or losing my temper. Simply walk away, find a peaceful corner and try to see the entire situation from a third person’s perspective.
It will help you find if you are being unreasonably demanding or irrational. It will also give you time to weigh the situation. Is it a fight you must take up? Is it worth it? Can it not be talked out? Can we find a solution? Can we have a healthy discussion? Find your answer. There is a solution to it and by getting angry you are choosing not to find one.
Anger is not something you need to possess with pride. It is also not something you should start using as a tool to win. Anger makes you weak mentally as well as physically. Sooner or later, it will make you repent. Anger has the power to ruin. Do not use it for fun. Do not try it. It is like getting hooked to an addiction. You will not know how to behave without it. You will not even realise when you have turned your life and yourself upside down. It will make a slave out of you, not anybody else. You will lose important relations.
Keep away from Anger: it is dangerous! It is self-destructive.
(Pallavi Misra Chaturvedi is a Dehra Dun based motivational speaker and a life skills trainer.)