by Gopinath Chandra

Anger is like fire. Controlled anger, like fire, can be used constructively – to discipline a child, to rectify your spouse’s behaviour, or to get a project completed on time. But if that anger goes beyond your control, it can adversely affect your daughter, burn your marital relationship or reduce your dream project to ashes.   

The steps to be taken for safe use of anger are similar to those for safe use of fire (or electricity) at home. 

Keep combustible material away while using fire; Keep rajo guna away while using constructive anger.   

When you are influenced by rajo guna, you are ‘highly combustible’: you are prone to be consumed by the same anger that was initially within your control. For example, you may scold your child with all good intentions. But an unruly response from her infuriates you, and you end up punishing her more severely than what she deserved, and what you desired in the beginning.

Related Article: Gunas, Unseen Forces that Impel Us

Anger is a rajo-guna emotion that’s usually born of selfish desires and arrogance. So even when you are putting up an angry show, your own dormant selfish desires and arrogance can be accidentally kindled! But if you are predominately situated in sattva guna — characterised by selflessness and humility — your make-show anger can never influence you, it will remain within your control, and it will have the desired effect.

Related Article: 10 To-Do Things to Raise Consciousness to Sattva Guna

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 Have smoke alarms installed when you use fire; Have well-wishing friends around when you use constructive anger

Anger can be deceptive. For example, you may plan to exhume discontent at the project meeting about your team’s poor performance, so that they improve their performance. But during the meeting, as you put forth your points, you unconsciously cross the limits, and end up demoralising your team. This happens because anger has the potential to cloud your intelligence.

From anger, complete delusion arises, and from delusion bewilderment of memory. When memory is bewildered, intelligence is lost, and when intelligence is lost one is destroyed – Bhagavad Gita 2.63.

So you should be surrounded by friends, or have at least one friend by your side, who can warn you if your anger crosses the line from being voluntary to involuntary.    

If fire breaks out, get out, stay out and call for help; If you lose temper, get out of the issue, stay out of the issue, and seek help

Anger is closely connected with arrogance and ego. All are qualities of rajo guna. So when you are victimised by anger – even if you realise you are a victim – your ego jumps in to justify your wrong behaviour. For example, while reprimanding your spouse, suppose your anger accidentally flares up. Immediately your ego intervenes, “Perhaps it was God’s desire that she bear the brunt of my anger. She deserved it.” If you fall into this trap of the ego, your anger is going to escalate and burn your relationship.

Don’t try to save things in the house that’s ablaze; be detached. Similarly don’t try to justify the wrong words you spoke under the influence of uncontrolled anger; be detached. However, if you feel overpowered by your ego, seek help through sincere prayers. Repent and rectify. But also forgive yourself; after all, you had good intentions in the beginning.

Fire provides warmth in cold; so does anger, in relationships. Anger is the emotion that can convey deep love and concern – provided it is constructive anger.

Please share your thoughts, experiences, or questions in the comments section below.

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