I don’t know about you, but I haven’t met a lot of angry yogis. I’m not referring to yogis who get angry. I’m talking about yogis who are angry at their core.
I’m not saying anger is in some way not yogic (a lot of us turn to yoga to deal with emotions like anger), but dealing with anger like a yogi means learning to work with it, not against it.
Think of an encounter you’ve had with someone who was angry about some sort of mistreatment. Or maybe the person was angry with God or the universe.
How do you react to that kind of anger?
How to Deal With Anger Versus Angry People
If you’re like me, you don’t enjoy being around angry people. If you’re a sensitive, empathetic person, you may feel for the angry soul, especially if you witness whatever triggered the anger. Maybe you even try to help, which is great, as long as you’re not fueling the flames. In a best-case scenario, you can help the person let go.
But none of this is fun.
Sometimes we see the same wrath again and again. In other words, we’re not dealing with anger but an angry person. Eventually, the anger will likely be directed towards you.
Why Do People Get Angry?
Like all emotions, anger serves a purpose. It’s a warning. And also like all emotions, we can become dependent on it as a way to deal with adversity.
But here’s the truth: Anger does not solve problems; in fact it usually makes problems worse. The angrier we are, the worse our problems get.
Think about it. Your colleague steals your idea. You are furious. While you are seething, are you productive? No. So hopefully you don’t seethe for long.
But what if you didn’t get angry at all? Well, then it’s possible you’d just let the colleague steal your idea and perhaps you’d begin letting other people take advantage of you.
So dealing with anger well means understanding the purpose it serves (in this case, it says, “don’t share your ideas with this person”). But—here’s the important part—anger will only work for you if you let it go as quickly as possible. Every extra moment you spend angry is a moment you are stealing from your life.
We humans are social beings who depend on each other to thrive. Anger is not attractive to most of us. We can have reasons to be angry, but we need to work with the anger and take responsibility for our actions at the same time.
Anger does not just hurt you socially and professionally. It also causes physical harm. It raises your blood pressure, weakens your heart, and pumps your system with the stress hormone cortisol (which leads to a host of other problems).
When it gets out of control, anger basically makes you unable to function, unable to move forward, and unable to thrive.
How Yogis Can Deal With Anger
As yogis, we often think we can’t be angry. We may try to push anger away before we even feel it, but this is as unhelpful as holding on to anger too long.
Problems occur when we get used to being angry and blaming people and circumstances for our suffering. When we do this, we’re missing something key.
If you never had a reason to be angry, you’d still be responsible for your own happiness.
You cannot be happy, successful, or content if you think you’re not because of things that make you angry. And many things that make you angry may do so not because you’re a victim, but because you’ve made a habit of getting angry.
No matter how many terrible things happen in life, anger will not solve our problems. It will only alert us that we have problems to solve. To solve them, we need to attract the attention, support, and “good karma” that leads to happiness.
Dealing with anger is not easy, especially if you’ve had a lot of setbacks, but there’s no way to hold onto anger in a healthy way. Good fortune is not just about luck (though luck does help).
Dealing with Anger Like a Yogi
I think to make any situation we face better, we need to be part of the solution. And that means taking responsibility for our actions, whether we have reasons to be angry or not.
So, yes, be angry when you need to be, but first be sure that you need to be. Then be careful where you direct that anger, who you blame, and how fiercely you hold on to your role as a victim. All those things only hurt you.
Use anger as fuel for action, and burn that fuel quickly.
Perhaps one of the best guides for dealing with anger (as well as hurt, disappointment, and other misfortunes) is the Serenity Prayer:
God grant me the serenity to accept the things I can’t change, the power to change the things I can, and the wisdom the know the difference.
There are lots of things to be angry about, but anger is not a requirement. It’s optional. Choose wisely.
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Hi, I’m Maria. I created Yoga Circles for you if you want to delve more deeply into the philosophy, practice, and life-changing effects of yoga. I’m also a writer and editor who helps small business owners, wellness professionals, teachers, and authors publish books, develop marketing strategies, and connect with readers, clients, and students. Visit my website (link below) for more about that. I’d love to hear from you!