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A to Zen of Anger

“Holding onto Anger is like drinking poison, and expecting that the other person will die”. ~ Buddha

Ever got angry? Do you find yourself fuming if someone doesn’t live up to your expectations or your rules? What about the guy that cut you off in traffic? Does it feel like your blood pressure is going through the roof when your child refuses to cooperate?

“I don’t have to attend every argument I’m invited to” ~ Author Unknown

Anger is a normal emotion and can even be positive in certain situations. When you’re angry, you lose the ability to see the reality of what’s happening. Uncontrolled anger results in disharmony, disease and unhealthy relationships and it’s important to deal with it in a positive way.

We have the choice to accept insults or just ignore them. If we accept the insult, then we must also accept the consequences of our choice and subsequent actions. If we do not accept a gift, who does the gift belong to? Of course it still belongs to the giver!

If we are insulted out of earshot, does it still have the same emotional effect as if directed towards us in person?

The most important aspect of anger is that it is not caused by people or situations. This means that you have control over how it affects you and those around you. Your thinking can change anger in you and the consequences of it.

The Path towards Anger Management.

Every path starts with a step. Our mind is a wonderful yet complex part of us. It can be trained to understand, if we keep it simple and follow a set of natural instructions or steps. Like a baby discovers how to walk, we too take it step by step. Simplicity and intention is important.

Every path starts with a step. Our mind is a wonderful yet complex part of us. It can be trained to understand, if we keep it simple and follow a set of natural instructions or steps. Like a baby discovers how to walk, we too take it step by step. Simplicity and intention is important.


It’s always more difficult to control difficult situations if we are unprepared, so preparation is important to manage anger. To defuse your anger, change your thoughts, your thinking patterns.

A: Analyse your anger.

By analysing or reviewing angry situations we quickly learn that anger can be a destructive aspect of ourselves. It influences how we get on with other people especially those we love and those with whom we make our living. Analyse your anger during quiet times, pick a quiet room or place. I recommend somewhere cool, like a deserted beach in the evening or a lake shore, or wood.

B: Breathing Space.

Create some breathing space. Breathe deeply, breathe slowly. Take a break. Go out for a walk.  Have a cuppa.  Write or draw your feelings. In other words, take time out to regain your cool.

C: Count to 10

Counting to 10 isn’t just for kids. Before reacting to a tense situation, take a few moments to breathe deeply and count to 10. Slowing down can help defuse your temper. If necessary, take a break from the person or situation until your frustration subsides a bit.

D: Detach

When we are detached from the situation, we are better able to engage with it and manage our reaction. We give power to situations by our attachment to them and pay the price of anger or fear when they don’t work out. Detach yourself from everything that you can’t take with you after this life. Remember nothing belongs to you, no matter what receipt you got with the purchase. Detachment is the only way to fully experience lifes treasures.

E: Exercise

Physical activity can provides a channel for your emotions, especially if you’re about to erupt. If you feel your anger escalating, go for a brisk walk or run, or spend some time doing other favourite physical activities. Physical activity stimulates various brain chemicals that can leave you feeling happier and more relaxed than you were before you worked out.

F: Get into the Flow

The Flow is one direction and always smooth, towards quiet, calm and peace. Let your thoughts flow without attachment, trust your internal intelligence to guide you in the right direction. You don’t need to ask “What direction?” because there is only one direction and it will be filled with obstacles, but when you’re in the flow, you glide through all those obstacles with ease and confidence, knowing that it will be alright in the end. Let everything flow, let it move inside you, gently edging you forward, don’t resist any change. Let this be your goal and anger will flow over you without harmful effects.

G: Grudges

Don’t hold a grudge. Forgiveness is a powerful tool. If you allow anger and other negative feelings to crowd out positive feelings, you might find yourself swallowed up by your own bitterness or sense of injustice. But if you can forgive someone who angered you, you might both learn from the situation. It’s unrealistic to expect everyone to behave exactly as you want at all times.

H: Humour

Use humour to release tension but be careful. Lightening up can help diffuse tension. Don’t use sarcasm, though — it can hurt feelings and make things worse.

I: Stick with ‘I’ statements

To avoid criticizing or placing blame — which might only increase tension — use “I” statements to describe the problem. Be respectful and specific. For example, say, “I’m upset that you left the table without offering to help with the dishes,” instead of, “You never do any housework.”

J: Judgement.

When we practice good judgement, anger usually falls away because it is not considered to be advantageous or profitable to us.

K: Know when to seek help

Learning to control anger can be a challenge for most people. You should consider looking for help for anger issues if your anger seems out of control, causes you to do things you regret or effects those around you. You might explore local anger management classes or anger management counselling. With professional help, you can:

  • Learn what anger is
  • Identify what triggers your anger
  • Recognise signs that you’re becoming angry
  • Learn to respond to frustration and anger in a controlled, healthy way
  • Explore underlying feelings, such as sadness or depression

Anger management classes and counselling can be done individually, with your partner or other family members, or in a group.

L: Love

Love yourself, if you can’t do this then like yourself. It’s essential that we have a good view of ourselves in order to develop self esteem and from self esteem comes confidence. When we are confident, we don’t need to get angry as much.

M: Manage

Be a good manager of your emotions. A good manager will look at all aspects of their project and goals. Weed out the poor or negative aspects of their venture and encourage the positive. Become determined to become a good manager if you experience a fiery character.

N: Non Confrontational

Once you’re calm, express your anger. As soon as you’re thinking clearly, express your frustration in an assertive but non-confrontational way. State your concerns and needs clearly and directly, without hurting others or trying to control them. It’s not about wining point, it’s about your health.

O: Open your Mind

An open mind is invincible because it is open to all possibilities.

P: Pick the Moment

Pick the moment for your confrontation. When we get angry easily, we should pick the time and place for any heated moment. Again take care not to allow anger to fester inside until you let it out. Practice letting it go and only confront someone if you are not going to hurt them or yourself. Sometimes it’s better to be happy than right!

Q: Quick

The one predominant characteristic of anger is its quickness to ignite. develop being quick to become calm, quiet or serene. This may seem difficult but every skill is strengthened by practice. Keep a pebble in your pocket or bag so that each time you touch it, you will be reminded to become instantly calm. It works!

R: Relaxation

Practice Relaxation skills. If you know you are a bit fiery, put relaxation skills to work. Practice deep-breathing exercises, imagine a relaxing scene, or repeat a calming word or phrase, such as, “Take it easy.” You might also listen to music, write in a journal or do a few yoga poses — whatever it takes to encourage relaxation.

S: Solutions.

Identify possible solutions, instead of focusing on what made you angry, work on resolving the issue at hand. Does your child’s messy room drive you crazy? Close the door. Is your partner late for dinner every night? Schedule meals later in the evening — or agree to eat on your own a few times a week. Remind yourself that anger won’t fix anything, and might only make it worse.

T: Think before you speak

In the heat of the moment, it’s easy to say something you’ll later regret. Take a few moments to collect your thoughts before saying anything — and allow others involved in the situation to do the same.

U: Under those deeper Issues

Uncover the deeper issues that give rise to anger. The negative aspect of this emotion is not normal nor natural to us humans. Look at what the deeper issues may be around your anger.

V: Visualisation.

Visualise your anger and reduce it by the same means. Visualisation is a powerful method that we can use to heal the body of many conditions and anger can benefit from it too.

W: What, Where, Who, Why

  • What is really causing the anger to flare up. Is it real. Is it justified?
  • Where am I angry most. If I get anger in the home most, then deal with this as a priority. If I get anger only at particular people, am I a bully?.
  • Who am I really angry with, the person in front of me or some other situation.
  • Why am I angry when I know it won’t fix anything, in fact when I get angry I lose the argument.

X: Xin

Xin has a number of beautiful meanings in Chinese depending on the tone you use. It means to Believe and it also means Heart. reminding us to Believe in our Hearts. If we believe it to be so and we act with an open heart then our world should reflect that beauty.

Y: You

You are the most important person involved in your anger. You are also the solution to your own anger. The emotion belongs to you and you can manage it.

Z: Zen your anger.

We each one of us has a definition of Zen and its all good, it’s all positive, it’s all calm. So Zen your anger, plant the seed of Zen in your heart and water it each day.

“Sometimes it is better to be happy than right!” ~ Author Unknown

James O’Sullivan - that's me, a people friendly practitioner and lecturer of Integrated Medicine, serving my patients, my students and the public with the positive benefits of both Conventional Western Medicine and Traditional Chinese Medicine.
It's a wonderful life
Disclaimer: This article is not intended to diagnose or assess. The information provided is not to be considered a substitute for consultation with a qualified health care practitioner.
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