by Rafik Beekun
Anger is “an emotional state that varies in intensity from mild irritation to intense fury and rage,” (Spielberger). Although anger is a natural emotion, you may be expressing it in a manner that could result in violence and destructive acts. In fact, as noted in the Qur’an, Allah says:
“And when your Lord said to the angels, “I am creating successors on the earth.” They said, “Will You create on it those who will spread corruption and spill blood, although we celebrate Your praise and extol Your Holiness?” He said,” I know what you do not know.” (Qur’an 2:30)
Anger can be caused by both external and internal issues. You could be angry at a specific person (such as a coworker or supervisor), or your anger could be caused by your personal problems, such as the remembrance of a disagreement with your spouse or parent. Anger itself isn’t inherently bad. When appropriate, it can motivate you to deal with problems, or it can signal to others that their behavior is nacceptable. However, if minor issues — such as someone cutting in front you in a queue — set you off, or if you’re simmering in a constant state of rage, you may have to get your anger under control to pre-empt any violent or destructive outcomes.
Just how angry are you? The Chart below is from the Mayo Clinic. Study the following words describing various states of anger and rate yourself on a scale of 0 to 5 with respect to each word:
· 0 = Not at all accurate · 1 = Somewhat accurate · 2 = Moderately accurate
· 3 = Very accurate · 4 = Extremely accurate
|Ready to fight|
If you have several 2, 3 and 4 ratings, you wish to seek professional help in learning how to manage anger in a healthier and more constructive way.
Study your anger patterns
Anger responses can become habitual. That is, you may respond automatically to a situation that upsets you. How do you express your anger? Consider these questions in gauging your anger responses:
- Do you get angry more often than most people you know?
- Do you use threatening language or gestures?
- Do you get angry enough to hit, throw things or others?
- Do you stay angry for long periods of time (days or hours)?
- Do you conceal angry feelings from others or try to hold in your feelings?
- Do you use drugs to calm yourself down?
- Do you experience physical reactions such as muscle tension when angry?
- Do you get angry and then wonder why you got angry over such a trifle?
How people deal with anger
People use both conscious and unconscious processes to deal with their angry feelings. The three main approaches are expressing, suppressing, and calming. Expressing one’s angry feelings in an assertive—not aggressive—manner is the healthiest way to express anger. Suppressing, however, is when you hold in your anger, but the danger is your anger can turn inward on yourself resulting in high blood pressure or hypertension. Calming means controlling both your outside responses (as in expressing) and your inside responses (as in suppressing) through lowering your heart rate and taking charge of your emotions.
In future segments, we will, Insha Allah, look at various mechanisms/processes for managing one’s anger both from the perspective of modern psychology and of Islam. It is important to note that sometimes, people take our emotions from work to our home or vice-versa, and as a result, escalate our anger to violence. Please click here to view a short video about domestic violence in Muslim communities in North America. Here is an eye-opening article about wife abuse in North America as a result partly of poor anger management. Unfortunately, it is likely that such abuse takes place in many Muslim marriages around the world, but goes unreported.
- Controlling anger before it controls you. http://www.apa.org/pubinfo/anger.html
- Anger: An Islamic Perspective-Part 1. http://www.islamonline.com/cgi-bin/news_service/spot_full_story.asp?service_id=703
- Anger Management: Learn how to keep your cool. http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/anger-management/MH00073