I've had one major problem (self-created sadly) that has dogged me for all of 2016. It has been rising in proportion since the last few years and threatens to overwhelm me completely. It's the emotion that is of absolutely no use unless directed towards fruitful effort: anger.
You wouldn't be too far off the mark describing me as an 'Angry Young Woman'. I wasn't always like this but lately, I've let every slight annoyance, be it an event, an utterance or a person, to take me to the point of extreme agitation. My skin grows flushed, my heartbeat quickens I do something I shouldn't and within a few minutes, it's all over, leaving behind that familiar sinking feeling. Yes, I almost always apologise and do my utmost to make amends. But it has happened so many times that I've lost count of the number of times I've said 'sorry'. And I don't want to do this anymore.
I've always believed that anger is a result of ego. People who are too puffed up with pride feel offended at the slightest injury to their egos. I'm afraid I may have joined that ignominious category. I tend to take everything personally and I have a very thin skin. I'm oversensitive and it's all too easy to take refuge in fury. I also take everything too seriously. Why should a colleague's behaviour matter so much? I should reserve the angst for the truly important things. Do you have the same problem as me? Then maybe both of us can benefit from these tips:
1. Delay every angry reaction by 30 minutes (or until you forget about the incident). If you still feel as disturbed, evaluate your response and then take action. Anger is born of impulse and in the absence of the rush of fury, it's almost impossible to be as angry.
2. Stop taking pride in anger. It's not a sign of strength or courage. It merely points to your instability and inability to treat things with maturity and equanimity. Instead, start taking pride in remaining unruffled. It's a skill that will take you far in life.
3. Smile or diffuse the situation with humour, whenever a tense circumstance develops. I'm not great at impromptu jokes but even I can't hold on to my temper if I smile genuinely.
4. Understand that it is never okay to be rude. Verbal abuse is still abuse. Even if the other person is in the wrong, you have no right to lambast them. Everyone has a right to be treated with courtesy, even if that person is your spouse or child. The truth in your words isn't affected by the tone or volume at which they are delivered.
5. Say "I will not be angry today. I will stay calm." ten times every morning prior to meditation. Write it down ten times when you come to work. Repeat it in your mind ten times before you go to sleep. Let the intention to stay calm echo in every corridor of your mind, heart and soul. Anger is destructive and deserves to be banished.
6. This tip is personal to me but may work for you if like me, you get agitated by certain types of injustice in the world. For me, I feel a rush of fury whenever I read about crimes against women or the environment. I have made a conscious decision to avoid such news items and to give them minimal attention even if I do encounter them. The right response to my concern is to do something to improve matters - not ruin my health with anger.
7. Treat other people like you would treat yourself. Respect them and never talk down. Understand that people behave according to their own value systems. They might not think like you do, but that doesn't always make them wrong or bad. They have no obligation to listen to you or change according to your desires.
8. Learn to be humble. You can't take credit for your life or the advantages you were born with. What's the point in being egoistic about that which has been granted to you and that which will be taken away one day?
9. Be steadfast in your devotion to your own health and happiness. Anger will never make you happy. Calmness and contentment will. Anger will mess with your health by causing you stress. Why put your body and mind through all that trouble?
10. Don't sweat the small stuff. Small irritations are like insects - you can swat them away but they may return, again and again. But do they stop you from living your life and enjoying what you do? Not at all. Don't bother about trivialities that are out of your control.
So I guess I have made a New Year resolution after all. I will let go of anger in 2017. In fact, I have already done so. What about you?