Stellar Chariot

By Arun Neelakandan

A Look Into Anger

Your heart thrashes about. Torrents of blood pump violently through dilated forehead conduits. Hands clench, squeezing an imaginary entity with enormous force. Pores prepare themselves for the ejection of salty coolant. Nostrils flare open like jet turbines ready for take-off. Your mandible outlined under the bite strain, as your nervous system ignites into a wild frenzy.

The enraged creature within bellows to be released from its cage. It seeks to destroy anything within fathom and purge itself of the intolerable energy bridled within itself in a hurricane of fury. Explosive catharsis appears as the only answer.

I’ve felt this. You’ve felt it too, haven’t you?

It scares me.

On the onset of anger, I usually quell it and endure, regardless of whether it was justified. This anger is bottled up — and it’s intimidating not knowing how much my poor bottle of repression can hold. How long can you pretend everything is okay when something is bothering you?

It’s a fear of losing control and the possible consequences that prevent me from venting. But why is this?

It’s all too easy to let anger engulf you. Let the beast out, so to speak. Angry people make poor decisions. I’ve seen it happen and I’ve experienced it myself — it’s embarrassing. They’re poorly thought of by society at large (this point particularly affects women; women especially are under strain to be ‘graceful’). Related to this, there is also a compulsion to maintain my persona as a chill, polite person.

Plus there is also the sheer effort in expressing anger. I regularly see people just jumping over the turnstiles/ticket machines at the railway station (i.e. fare evasion). I’m angered at how I (and indeed most others) are paying for travel and they’re able to elude it so brazenly. I get the impulse to call them out and even consider citizen’s arrest, but it’s a lot of effort. What also concerns me is that some of them look like abrasive people to deal with — so there’s a fear of violence and so on.

What Angers Me

It’s not only ‘petty’ things that frustrate me. Like stupid decisions, fare evaders, a friend bringing my reputation into disrepute, difficult colleagues or being unfairly told off while driving. It’s also the broader things at large: Teenagers urinating on a shopfront. Acid attacks on people. Struggling seniors. Hearing someone has got cancer. In general, many of the things that are on the news. I feel helpless, despite knowing that these problems are too big for one man to solve.

How to Effectively Deal with Anger

Anger isn’t necessarily a bad thing. It indicates that something is not being met.

The person who is angry at the right things and toward the right people, and also in the right way, at the right time and for the right length of time is morally praiseworthy.

Aristotle Encyclopedia of Ethics, Vol I, Second Edition, Rutledge Press

Anger is kind of like a fart. Holding it in feels horrible and makes you unproductive. It needs to be expressed, but letting it rip without control in public can be embarrassing. So you have to control it, excuse yourself to a more deserted place if possible and release with precision. Express without causing too great a distress.

Responding with passive-aggressiveness, acute aggressiveness or retaliation (through subversive means like gossip or otherwise) doesn’t seem effective nor correct to me.

But you shouldn’t suppress it either, as I often have. Lest you’re okay with bursting like Ned Flanders.

I figure the way to deal with anger is to act on it. If there’s an appropriate person who you can express your thoughts, then do so. Speak from your perspective as clearly as you can, without mincing your words and exacerbating the situation with vitriol. I’ve been diffident in my ability to express my frustration appropriately — I feared losing control and the consequences, as discussed earlier. But this is silly, because a skill like expressing yourself properly when angry has to be practised for improvement to take place. This is the attitude I will adopt.

In some situations however (like many global issues), it may be better to relinquish your anger and accept it. For it’s often not worthwhile pursuing justice, unfortunately. Forgive. Tiny tinges of residual resentment may remain and prick occasionally though, but so be it. Those who do take these global issues head-on, like Narayanan Krishnan, are superior people deserving of all the admiration in the world.

Exercises involving breathing like yoga and meditation are said to help ease anger (though, I haven’t used it extensively). And so does sleep and time (I have used this extensively). If it won’t bother you next year, then maybe it’s not important enough to be angry about?

Some Additional Comments

Being a guy, it’s difficult to draw the line between banter and when boundaries are being crossed. You don’t want to come across being sensitive and ‘thin-skinned’, but you also need to make sure you don’t take shit from anybody. It’s confusing, so you frequently just let things carry on. Exposing chinks also presents opportunities for further damage in the future from your ‘mates’ — it’s like handing them rocks so they’re going to throw at you.

Time is also a factor here if you decide to speak out. You might realise your anger after some time, but it might be ‘too late’ to express your anger. That is, it might be awkward to bring up that subject.

A “Too Long; Didn’t Read (TLDR)”

I sometimes get angry and keep it to myself because I have trouble expressing it appropriately. So I often suppress it, but realise this isn’t healthy. So try to be more expressive in the future (expression is a skill that can be improved upon).

Also, some things that cause anger are difficult to resolve. If possible and beneficial, act on it. If not, let go.

Links and Further Reading