It was a bright sunny day. The sky was coloured in a beautiful yellowish-orange shade; the air smelled of fresh-cut grass, birds were chirping, and a group of kids were playing in the park. It seemed like another peaceful weekend. Suddenly, there came a loud noise of something crashing on the road. People strolling in the park rushed in the direction of the sound. In a few minutes, a big crowd had surrounded the area. Fortunately, there was no serious injury to anyone as almost all the vehicles stopped because the traffic signal had just turned red. Only one car that didn’t stop crashed into the traffic signal pole, right in the centre of the road.
The two passengers sitting in the car were safe as the airbags functioned properly. After a few minutes, an ambulance arrived and treated their minor injuries. Soon the situation became normal again. An enquiry into the reason for the accident revealed that the couple, travelling to some place, got into a heated argument over an issue. The argument was so intense that even the vehicles nearby could listen to their conversation. And under the control of his profound anger, the husband on the driving seat failed to notice the traffic signal turn red and smashed his car into the pole.
Such incidents are a few of the most undermined ones, which when ignored, gain the potential to become disastrous for everyone. According to the ‘Boiling Point’ research conducted by the Mental Health Organisation in the year 2008, almost one third (32%) of the respondents claimed that they have a friend or a family member who faces difficulty in controlling their anger, around 12% claimed that they just cannot control their anger, and almost 20% said that they have ended their friendship or relationship with someone because of their wrong behaviour fueled by anger.
It is clear that people who cannot control their anger or who easily get frustrated and react to someone else's anger are under its control. When the time bomb of their anger blasts, not only do they harm themselves but also have disastrous impact on their friends, relatives, colleagues and all those who are in their surroundings.
Under such circumstances, the majority of people take help of anger management strategies like pressing the ball, reverse counting, drinking water, doing breathing exercises, etc. to control their anger. No doubt, they help one control their anger at the moment but fall short of providing an ultimate respite. However, our holy scriptures provide an over and above & a perfect solution to this problem.
जिताः सभावस्त्रवताः मिष्टाशा गोमता जिता।
अध्वाजितो यावत: सर्वम शीलवत: जितम।।
The shloka explains, "Just as a person with an attractive attire becomes the centre of attraction for the crowd, the one who has cow's milk as an ingredient can prepare the best of sweets, and the one who has a vehicle can complete their journey, similarly, a person who has the IMMUNITY TO FACE ADVERSITIES can win over everything!"
The worst among all adversities is the self-instigated adversity of anger. A lesson can be derived from the shloka that, to face the adversity of anger, one needs to strengthen their immunity. The best way to do this is, whenever anger attacks, do the opposite!
Just as the opposite of stress is relaxation; of grief is joy; of sorrow is happiness, what is the opposite of anger? A probe into the antonyms for anger in the English dictionary reveals words like love, calm, assuage, comfort, pacify etc. Thus, when anger attacks, instead of accepting the anger radiations from the person who is under its control, we should face it with love and kindness. As Buddha says, “First rule of kindness is to be kind to yourself.” Meaning, be kind to yourself first by not becoming angry and frustrated in reaction to the other person’s anger and then help the other person retract from the dangerous state of anger.
We should let our thoughts, feelings and perception towards that person, consumed by anger, be full of compassion. Instead of fighting and arguing with the person, one should listen patiently and let the person empty all that is inside them. In the meantime, one should try and understand the person's situation & empathise with them.
This step would open the doors for keeping your point effectively in front of the person and the argument will efficiently be replaced by a meaningful and healthy discussion. Instead of being reactive to the other person's anger, if we try and become positively responsive, it will not only be helpful for the other person but will also strengthen our overall immunity to deal with situations. Also, this act of reciprocating with kindness enhances one’s emotional intelligence, thereby contributing towards saving relationships from breaking.
Once a great saint from South India, Saint Thiruvalluvar, all absorbed in the Divine, was busy weaving a fabric. A few mischievous youngsters came to Him and started asking about the prices of clothes one after the other. Saint Thiruvalluvar, with a calm mind, told the price of each piece of cloth. Knowing that the cost of one of the pieces was two rupees, a boy picked the cloth and tore it into two pieces and amusingly asked, “O gentleman, what is now the price of this half cloth?”
Saint Thiruvalluvar, yet again replied in His calm tone, “Now the price of this cloth is only a rupee.” Hearing this, the youth tore that cloth into four and then into eight pieces. But the Saint gave no reaction and continued His work. The youth asked, “What is the price of this piece now?” The Saint replied, “Now it is worth nothing, but still, I will stitch the cloth together and surely make something out of it.” The youngsters felt ashamed of themselves. One of the youths silently took out two rupees from his pocket and kept it in front of the Saint.
The Saint replied very calmly, “O child, you cannot estimate the price of this cloth, I had prepared it with great struggle. Only if someone had used it, its real worth would have been realised. But not anymore.” Hearing this response from the Saint, those youngsters, bowed down in shame and left the place.
The moral of this incident is that if someone tries to mock you or forces you to react negatively in anger and frustration, then your calm & composure is the most effective reply to them. As it is wisely said, “Small changes make a big difference!” A small change in your behaviour and perception can create a big difference in your life.
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