Anger is a part of human expression to show displeasure to a cause or action. It is the natural outburst of an antagonizing situation. Anger is the facial presentation of resentment towards somebody. It is also reflected by the body language and is an aggravated form of human emotions. It is an emotional response to a perceived threat, insult or provocation. The effects of anger can be positive or negative depending upon the context and the way it is expressed. The qualitative expression of anger may enhance determination and one’s own perspective, resulting in positive actions. One may become resolute in moving towards their goal or ambition. It may also lift one’s morale and charge the value system. On the flip side, it may be destructive and prohibit control over action and the process of thinking. In its strong form, it may impair a person’s thoughtfulness, prudence and empathy towards fellow human beings or other living creatures. Nonsensical anger may hurt another people emotionally and psychologically. In the worst scenario, an angry person may physically harm himself or others.
When we compare humans with the animal kingdom, then we find that they become angry only when they are starving or provoked. In comparison, human intelligence has the ability to understand the difference between threats and provocation on a much finer scale. As a matter of fact, we as humans must react and show our anger when unnecessarily incited, insulted, inflicted, indicted, impugned, and indulged. Anger is also a power and strength to project the prowess of personality and keeps the incoming mental, physical or psychological injury away. As the proverb goes “an apple a day keeps the doctors away’, controlled and thoughtful anger keeps perceived threat away. Whereas controlled anger is a power of self defense, uncontrolled anger is self immolation.
Therefore, I am forced to analyze, is anger an absolute necessity to survive in society? Does anger have any place in a civilized world? What are the parameters for living in a civilized world? To become angry on a perceived provocation can be understood but what about showing anger on every small event in life? Do the level of anger and its presentation depend upon the education, culture, environment or background of a person? If the onset of anger has something to do with the lack of education and unruly background of people then why can’t the educated, cultured and so called sophisticated people in our society get along together and withstand their partners, friends or relatives for a long period of time? Why is the rate of divorce the highest in modern society more compared to the rural areas? Why is the level of tolerance low in families and society resulting in disagreements and divorces due to uncontrolled anger and understanding?
The purpose of my writing on the topic is not to touch the psychological, medical or behavioral aspects and cognitive effects of anger on human personality and relationships, but to analyze holistically whether uncontrolled anger is a temperamental disorder or a personality flaw. If it is a temperamental disorder, then the person affected from this does more harm for himself than the person they are upset with, and needs to utilize anger management. If it is a personality flaw then we have to think what humanly qualities separate us from illiterates and unruly people in the world. If even after acquiring higher education, we have not been able to control our minds, then have we become educated and civilized? I personally believe educated minds should know the art of controlling human ills and weaknesses. If we could not learn the art of self control and anger management even after going to the top universities and proudly possessing PHDs, MBAs, or other professional and technical degrees of the highest standards, then something is seriously wrong either in our education system, culture, religion or upbringing.
By writing this article, I do not have any intention to insult anybody knowingly or unknowingly but to discuss on this topic philosophically in understanding the root causes of anger. Some world famous people have also echoed my words and I would like to quote a few in order to throw light on the gravity of this major flaw in the human personality.
Albert Einstein has quoted ‘Anger dwells only in the bosom of fools’. We may not take the literal sense of his quote but as per Einstein, those who cannot control their anger may be considered illiterate and uncultured. Their understanding of life is too shallow and as such they may be called as fools.
Mahatma Gandhi has quoted- ‘Anger and intolerance are the enemies of correct understanding’. If we analyze this statement of Gandhi, then we understand that those who lack tolerance and control on their temperaments cannot go together with sane people or those who have the knowledge of life and humanly qualities.
Nineteenth century American essayist, poet and transcendentalist Ralph Waldo Emerson has quoted- ‘For every minute you remain angry, you give up sixty seconds of peace of mind’. This statement is so poetic and true. Angry people or those who have no control on their temperaments cannot understand the value of peace in mind which has the tranquilizing effects on our personality and provides an opportunity to think coolly and find alternatives to a difficult situation. This is possible only by way of reasoning and self control.
Benjamin Franklin, one of the founding fathers of the United States has bitterly rebuked this flaw in the human personality by saying- ‘Whatever is begun in anger ends in shame’. Since the bout of anger blinds our process of logical thinking, we use foul or insulting languages or act in uncivilized ways which ends in disgrace and loss of respect.
Mark Twain, the famous American writer and humorist has very rightly mentioned the ill effects of anger on people by saying- ‘ Anger is an acid that can do more harm to the vessel in which it is stored than to anything on which it is poured’. Mark Twain was so right. As per the recent studies, those who become angry very frequently may suffer from high blood pressure, insomnia; arthrosclerosis- build up of fatty plaques in arteries; heart disease, headaches, digestive imbalance, anxiety, heart attack and stroke.
If we make the historical analysis of human race, then we find that when the society was still in the process of developing, ‘might was the right’ for survival and on the slightest provocation people used to become angry and kill each other. As the civilization grew and societies evolved, norms and rules were laid for the people to behave in a civilized manner. The purpose of social norms and code of conduct is to put a control on the animalistic behavior present in the human race. Over a period of time, this metamorphic tendency has subsided but is still present in us and keeps surfacing with little provocation.
Therefore, if we think that we are out of the Stone Age and now in the twenty first century we are qualitatively educated and civilized, then we must restrain ourselves from mental aggravation and imbalances.
To my mind, people may be very well educated (from the worldly point of view) but they lack the knowledge and understanding of spiritualism. The knowledge and practice of spiritualism induces a person to reason on the root causes of every problem and puts a restrain on prima facie reactions. As per project management, every project is temporary and unique in its characteristics. Its scope and deliverable is different, and as such project managers handle them differently and manage accordingly. Likewise, every person on earth is temporary and a unique piece created by nature -- their mental, emotional and spiritual characteristics are different. Therefore two humans cannot think and act similarly for a long period of time. Being unique pieces, their temperaments and mental levels will be different and at some point of time they will definitely behave differently than the other person.
Because people act differently as per their true nature and characteristics, they cannot be wrong as far as they are concerned. It is up to the other person to understand this dissimilarity and accept the person with their qualities or flaws. If we do not, then the fault lies within us that of wanting the other person to act or behave as per our desire or likings.
If we understand the above fundamental principles and the root cause of the makings of a human personality and nature then we will never get angry with any person unless we are deliberately or shamelessly provoked or our lives are put in danger.
In our social lives we do not get angry often with our employer or colleagues for the fear of getting non-cooperative responses or losing the job. This keeps our ego and anger on hold. Even if we feel insulted or humiliated at the work place we practice a controlled and passive response to the situation. Whereas in our personal lives we do not apply the same control and restrain and take the relationships for granted. This results in discontentment, frustration, depression and differences with our spouses, children, relatives or friends. As a result, we cannot pull on for long with them. If we know how to control our emotions at the work place then why we do not apply the same principles in our personal lives. This shows the duality and duplicity of nature which is very common in the so-called educated and modern society.
Therefore, anger is a necessity if used qualitatively otherwise it is self destructive and a major flaw in human personality. I will look forward for your constructive comments on the topic for the enlightenment of our readers.
I will also like to ask my professional colleagues worldwide, what they think about the use of anger in professional life. Does it make a difference in relationships with their employers, contractors or in professional lives?
Wish you all a very happy and prosperous new year 2014.A pursuer of logical quest
Suman Saran Sinha, CMC
Suman Saran Sinha, CMC