written by Princess R. Lakshman
Anger is probably the most frequently felt emotion on this planet – from young children to elderly, from homemakers to company executives, from those observing hijaab or full beard to those who do not, from independent singles to those who are married, from the pious to the not so pious…no one is immune from this emotion.
Reflect on what made you angry recently. More importantly, why did it make you angry? Was it a family member? A friend? Colleague? Was it work-related? Or school or college? Is it someone from the mosque? Or someone in traffic? Or on the news channel?
What happened and what triggered that anger?
Anger is an emotion which is triggered by memories of pain that is stored in the subconscious mind. The pain could be physical or emotional and it could be in the form of fear or insecurity. Anger is further perpetuated by thoughts and images that are replayed in the mind that trigger these painful memories.
There are two types of anger – Momentary Anger and Destructive Anger.
Momentary Anger occurs in the moment and subsides after a few minutes, for example, if you find that someone has spilt a drink on your freshly-cleaned carpet, you may feel anger in the moment. Once the carpet is cleaned again, your anger subsides and you feel better.
Destructive Anger, however, is dangerous to you and those around you. It is destructive to your health and wellbeing. Destructive Anger displays itself through you in the following ways:
- It is repetitive – your words and actions hurt you and others repetitively as though in a habitual pattern.
- It is when you lash out at the same person or people again and again like a toxic ritual.
- It is when you bring up past grudges to use in your present state of anger.
- It is when you want to be right and prove that the other person is wrong.
- It is when you act out of spite, making someone else feel bad on purpose.
- It is when your anger feeds on itself, getting worse and worse every passing moment.
Destructive Anger destroys relationships. It disconnects you from your inner voice which is pure. It disconnects you from your inner peace. It fuels negative thoughts about self and others. It creates barriers in the home and within the Ummah.
If you can relate to any of the signs of Destructive Anger, even if it is only one of them, it means you are suppressing a painful experience and you need to heal from it. It means that you need to find a safe, trusting outlet and find help to address this painful experience.
A personal story…
I lived with Destructive Anger for nearly 36 years until I realised I was suppressing immense pain and expressing Destructive Anger daily in my life. ALLAH has given us the gift of FREE WILL to acknowledge and take heed of HIS SIGNS.
Anger is a sign of suppressed, unhealed pain. You can heal from it. I did. It does not mean that we can eradicate anger completely from our lives. But we can choose not to let anger control us. Instead, we can choose to control it. We can choose to overcome triggers that cause unhealed, painful memories to resurface and provoke reactions from us. We can overcome these triggers and choose an appropriate response that empowers us instead of consume us.
How do you overcome anger at the exact moment that you feel it?
Use the S-T-O-P method as follows:
S – Stop everything you are doing.
T – Take long, deep breaths, bringing your awareness only to the deep breathing.
O – Observe your body and relax it. If you are walking, stand. If you are standing, sit. If you are sitting, lie down. Relaxing your body will normalise the heart rate.
P – Pray. Start making dhikr and dua.
When you practise the S-T-O-P method regularly, you will start to become aware of triggers. Reacting to triggers makes you lose control. Responding to triggers empowers you. Choose to respond, not react.
For more inspiration, check out the YouTube Channel for Muslimah Mind Matters