Taming Anger #AtoZChallenge

Dear Son

I start off this series of letters that I hope will help you in some way in the days to come. I will try to write about emotions and situations that I anticipate you to be ready for. Today, I want to write to you about anger. I can already imagine you chuckling at the thought of my choice of topic, knowing how you resent my short-temper. We have discussed this time and again, but well, sometimes it takes a lifetime for a person to change the way he reacts to situations. This is one quality of mine that I’m not really proud of. While I am still working on the same, I would like to share my experiences in this regard with you so that you could start young in learning to tame your anger.

At home, you have enjoyed the perks of being the only child. You have had your space, your own collection of games, books, music and gadgets that you have never had to share with anyone. You have had the liberty to choose between your likes and dislikes. But as you enter this phase wherein you would be thrown in with a medley of new people who would comprise of roomies, classmates, and new friends from varied backgrounds and cultures, sometimes you might not have the luxury to choose the kind of people you’d like to have around you. There could be situations where you might need to co-exist with someone you could barely get along with. Likewise, the other person might also have the same kind of reservations about you. I haven’t yet met anyone who does not enjoy your company but things happen. And they happen just because just the way none of our fingers is alike, each of us is made differently with qualities that make us likeable or the opposite. The sooner you accept this fact the easier it will be for you to understand the finer dynamics of relationships.

In situations wherein you are forced to deal with someone or something that you dislike you are likely to react with anger. Thankfully, it takes a lot for you to get angry and I often wish I had your calm disposition. However, the best of us succumb to fury when driven up the wall. Let me tell you how this emotion can be both destructive and constructive in different situations. Yes, anger can also be constructive. All it requires is channelizing the anger into something productive.

While we all know how destructive rage can be, it is worth keeping in mind that a moment of anger can blur our decision-making and lead us to irreversible consequences. It always helps to walk away at that moment from the person or the situation than reacting in an unfavourable way. If that is not possible it is best to breathe deep and remain quiet at that time. Contemplate on talking to the person in a better frame of mind sometime later. However, it is important that the matter is addressed and resolved eventually. Keeping negative emotions like anger and sorrow bottled up can be detrimental to health. Ventilate and practise doing so in a healthy manner. Release your steam gently like a sleek slow cooker, unlike your mum who keeps bursting like an agitated pressure cooker! 😀

More than once in my career, I have had to deal with difficult colleagues who would impact my performance at work with their temperament issues. In my early days at work, I would react to the situation with the same ferocity that the person I was dealing with displayed or maybe two notches higher. But with time I realised that those outbursts had only worsened the situation and they had caused more harm than help for anyone of us. Given the same situation now, I try my best to keep my reactions controlled and subdued. However, I give it a good thought before I address the issue again, maybe after a day or few, but this time around both of us are able to discuss the issue objectively minus the anger.

Talking about how anger could be used constructively, there are times when one is faced with criticism and scorn. No matter how good you are as a person, or at your work, not everyone you meet will appreciate your good qualities all the time. Some people can be downright critical about everything you do for their own reasons. It can get to a point where things might not be pleasant. It is a surefire way to get you angry. But this kind of anger is healthy. It makes you reflect on your good and bad qualities and wonder where you’re going wrong. Once you’ve confronted the person about what he has to say, go back and think through it carefully, filter out the things that you might agree to from all that he has said. You’ve got to be completely honest with yourself here. If you feel there is an element of truth in the criticism, try and work on it to improve yourself. But if you have the conviction that some of the things pointed out were false and baseless, treat them as that person’s ignorance or better still feel happy about those points coz those are your strengths. And in all probability, these are strengths that have brought out the insecurities of that person on the surface which he chose to hurl at you in the guise of criticism.

There was a time when I was teased mercilessly for my long status messages on Facebook. Those public jibes would make me angry and upset me. I let it pass but did not quit reflecting on it. And can you guess what the result of that reflection brought in? I realised that I probably was not writing for the right audience. Perhaps, my Facebook wall and friends were not the right place and people to engage my writing with. That moment of realisation led me to start writing on this blog with a renewed vigour, wherein what I write is read and accepted by like-minded people. So yes, sometimes anger helps. But you’ve got to channelize it in the right direction.

If none of the above-mentioned works, walking away or switching off from the person and situation that triggered it works like magic. Distract yourself with a good book, your favourite music, an interesting video or take a refreshing walk to get away from it.

So now that you know, that your mum has various shades of anger besides the one that you are predominantly exposed to when you don’t finish everything on your plate, I hope this knowledge helps you stay calm and collected, with better understanding and flexibility towards the new people and experiences you are soon going to be exposed to.

I will end this letter with a quote that I often remind myself with when I’m angry:

‘Getting angry is actually punishing yourself with the mistakes of others.’



My theme for this year’s ‘Blogging from A-Z Challenge,’ is a set of 26 open ‘Letters to my Son’ from me that I will be writing throughout April. Read more about my theme here.