You are angry by choice

I don’t know anything that I have done in anger that made me proud. Do you have such an example that you are proud of?

Sure there may be some constructive examples that may have popped up. That time when, because you were angry, you decided that you will beat the competition and emerge as a winner. Or that time when in an enraged state you made an argument which won you the debate (something you could not have done had you not been angry, you think).

May be you have some more examples but they will be in similar categories. If so, then go back to those examples: How long did that resolve to emerge as a winner last? Did you really win that debate or did the opponent play the right card by not opposing you at that time?

If by being angry you think it will lead to a better future, then think again.

You could have controlled that thing which made you angry or you could not have. But it doesn’t matter. It doesn’t matter if the person who made you angry could have done what you asked. Nor does it matter if the driver in front of you could have driven with some more sense. And it still does not matter if the thing you could have done to improve that project, you did not do in time.

You are angry now and what you are angry about is the past.

There is nothing you can do to change the past (even if you believe that scientists may invent a time-machine someday!). But there is much you can do to change the future. Anger helps no one’s cause.

More importantly though, almost everything that you think makes you angry, will not make you angry if you don’t want it to. Every bit of anger generated can be avoided, but you have to actively want to avoid it.

The root of our anger is always some person (either you yourself or someone else). Trees cannot make you angry, nor can your car. They are inanimate objects, they are as they are. They cannot do anything about themselves or about anything else. Then how can they make anyone angry? They can’t.

People make other people angry. And changing people is extremely hard. So if you react to someone who made you angry because you think he will change and thus, not make you angry the next time. Don’t react. And if you want to react because that reaction will ease your anger, even then don’t. It does no good. There are much better ways to ease that anger.

A process that works: when you know you are angry, stop right there. Don’t react to what made you angry. Instead, think about why it made you angry. Rationalise for yourself. Most of the time the reason is because some one did something. And if you accept that you cannot do much about  that someone, it means that you don’t have any reason to get angry.

Quite often you may be angry because of yourself. Something that you did, but did not want to or something that you could’ve done differently but you did not. And although in this case, the person can be changed if the will to change can be gathered, it still doesn’t give you enough reason to remain angry. Because remaining angry on yourself means you are wasting valuable resources (energy and time). You could easily use those resources to change things for better.

When you are angry at yourself, it is not a good time to give in to what the anger wants you to do, instead it is a good time to introspect. To understand what could have been changed and make that change.

If you are angry, you are angry by choice. What made you angry is irrelevant. You can choose not to be angry, if you want. And you know that there are more benefits in that choice.

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About Akshat Rathi

Akshat Rathi is a science journalist. He has previously worked at The Economist and The Conversation. His writing has appeared in Nature, The Guardian and The Hindu. He has a PhD in chemistry from Oxford University and a BTech in chemical engineering from the Institute of Chemical Technology, Mumbai.
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2 Responses to You are angry by choice

  1. Deeksha says:

    I think a very valid discussion in today’s times. Anger can literally ruin things and make you repent endlessly. So why not detect its causes, sense its rise in situations and check it there and then rather than repenting on it later. Like my mother always says, ‘You can’t control other people’s reactions or sometimes situations thrown at you. Therein what you can best control is your own reaction. So be a wise judge of the situation than a sorry spectacle of an outburst.’

    It is highly commendable on your part to initiate this very relevant discussion, put in a very apt perspective.

  2. Islam Pakhtoon says:

    Lovely Article 🙂 very educational

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