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Grasping anger (2): family talk

By - Nov 13, 2016 - Category Practice - Print Print - Version française
Burnt tree after a forest fire

An earlier post on the question of anger has allowed us, on the basis of a short scenario, to reflect on the situations that can trigger anger, on what its root causes are, and on whether it is legitimate to give vent to our anger in any judicious or rational way, when we risk letting it run free. The purpose of this second post is to discuss the effects of anger, both on the subject and on those around him or her.

The following scene from the movie What’s in a name, takes place during what started off as a common dinner party. “Babu” and her husband Pierre are having Vincent (Babu’s brother), his wife Anna, and one of their common friends, Claude, over for dinner. A mere argument over the name chosen by Vincent and Anna for their unborn child ends up making the entire evening turn sour and having Babu lose it. Filled with anger and bitterness, she goes on a rant, confronting everyone at the party. See for yourself…

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What do you think?

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1. In your opinion, did the fact that Babu vented out her anger have a negative effect?

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2. Do you think that being justified in getting angry neutralises the negative effects of anger?

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3. You have probably already noticed the traces left by your anger on yourself and those around you. What are they? Did such a realisation lead you to fight against your anger? How did you go about it?

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  1. Masoud Nov 13, 2016 3:52 pm 1

    When it’s gone I do feel ashamed, regretful, speechless, and …
    Yes that lead me to work on that.
    I tried not to vent it … until finally it worked.
    It took more than 12 years for me.

    1. A. Nov 14, 2016 7:46 pm 1.1

      >When it’s gone I do feel ashamed, regretful, speechless
      Yes I agree, a sense of shame, feeling humiliated, you want to hide somewhere. Another feeling is that of compassion for those who have been the object of your anger. For instance I have felt this when I saw my little one was afraid of me, after scolding him for not listening and daydreaming all the time.

      Another effect that can motivate us not to lose our temper is that we may lose some rights, or opportunities: for instance we get angry at someone who may have wanted our help and after we get angry he/she rejects our offer for help

  2. Linda Nov 13, 2016 5:55 pm 2

    My vents always end up in regret, a bad taste, a horrible feeling of weakness and narrow-mindedness.

  3. BV Nov 13, 2016 6:09 pm 3

    It’s fascinating to watch how the imperious self relishes dishing out “truths” to others, under the guise of the injustices we have felt as a result of their behaviors. Although Babu may be right in feeling one or more of those things, her way of dealing with her anger was not dignified. For instance, attacking her husband and their relationship in front of others was inappropriate, and maybe motivated by her urge to knock him down in front of others as opposed to having a frank conversation with him when they were alone. Unfortunately, it’s likely she’s walked out the scenario knocking herself down – I definitely think it had a negative effect on her.

    Interestingly, once she dipped her feet in the pool by attacking her husband, she couldn’t help jumping in and taking the others down too. I guess that’s the problem with venting. As venting conotates a sense of lack of self-control, it’s so easy to get swept into it and not see the error of your ways. It’s almost like the imperious self getting it’s hands on the microphone and not wanting to let it go.

    I feel like if Babu was expressing her anger because her right had been stepped on or the dignity of her character had been unjustly attacked, then she would be totally correct to become angry and defend herself. But even in those situations, how can we state we are defending our rights/our dignity if we go about it in a undignified and uncontrolled manner i.e. ranting. Surely that contradicts what we wanted to do in the first place?

    I personally have experienced numerous occasions when I incorrectly decided to rant at someone, and walked away feeling ashamed and regretful. There was no pleasure in it when the deed was done, only when in the midst of it did I feel a sense of incorrect rightness and entitlement. Those consequent feelings have really helped me learn to bite my tongue more and more when I get the urge to vent my anger.

    1. NN Dec 03, 2016 1:44 pm 3.1

      BV, you make a great point. So many times I played the victim card and felt justified attacking others all because of building up my frustration and not being able to have a frank conversation. Acting out on impulse and emotion is not productive. It makes a person not think rationally about the situation and I want to say 5 out of 5 times I’ve always felt bad and embarrassed when I’ve lashed out at others.

  4. Davvid Nov 13, 2016 10:41 pm 4

    Uncontrolled anger is always and always destructive, contagiously explosive, it involves hurrying, rushing, an urge to get even or settle scores. Yet anger is energy, that could be harnessed and put to good work. That requires taking a pause (forcing the rushing train of thoughts to pause) and reflect. I am as prone to anger as anybody else but I learned to do nothing for 10 minutes and then start reflecting on what to do.
    Also if someone is angry, by simply listening to them with respect and attention (very hard to do! as we usually tend to get defensive), it helps to calm the situation and lower the boiling temperature. Well, God is in Babu too.

    In the above scenario, if the others had simply listened to Babu with attention and respect, without answering anything, without having looks of disgust, contempt or bewilderment, it would have helped not to ignite her more. Often our defensive answers or uncaring facial expressions contribute to ignite the other party. You’ll notice the facial expressions and general attitude of the others towards Babu in this scene.

  5. MAT Nov 14, 2016 2:03 am 5

    Extreme anger always has negative effects on the person who vents it out and also on others, especially when kids are present, and not only does it not deal with its roots but it increases the horrible feelings afterwards.

  6. ia Nov 14, 2016 2:41 pm 6

    Yesterday, I was so angry my heart was racing, I was feeling sick. I was already writing detailed messages to my landlady in my head and the momentum was growing and growing and I began to feel like I would have to move again because I just couldn’t put up wit this anymore, and then I started to get depressed and thinking all kinds of negative things.
    I had read the anger post in the morning so it was somewhere in the back of my head. But still, I was on the brink of spewing and taking myself down a dark road. And I had also been reflecting on the power of negative thoughts and the importance of distracting oneself to get out of the spiral. So I left the house and went to a nice café to spend the afternoon and work. My thoughts subsided with the influence of the distraction and by the time I came home the nuisance of the noise caused by my heater and the feeling that I could not handle the 4th time this has happened, and that it was all a sign of my doomed life (haha) had subsided. Thank God! Phew!

  7. MS Nov 14, 2016 3:14 pm 7

    Very interesting and useful, thank you!
    I definitely think the fact that Babu vented out her anger had a negative effect, on the others but especially on herself. In my opinion, anger may also have negative effects on the subject even if not vented, but I do believe that the negative effects are much less if the person manages to control and channelize the anger.
    I cannot remember a single time when venting my anger was not followed by intense feelings of regret and shame. And yes, it has led me to fight against my anger. I try to remember those feelings and to some extent “be prepared”, at least in cases where I know how a specific person will trigger my anger in a particular way. In the heat of the moment, what helps me (if I manage to save myself before being hijacked by negative emotions) is to take a small break, walk into another room and try to breathe and ask for His help.

    I don’t think “getting angry is never justified” but rather tend to agree with Aristotle’s statement that: “Anybody can become angry – that is easy, but to be angry with the right person and to the right degree and at the right time and for the right purpose, and in the right way – that is not within everybody’s power and is not easy.”

    1. AJS Nov 14, 2016 7:01 pm 7.1

      Yes, this is exactly how I think about it, and I find the quotes from Aristotle and Malak Jan Nemati extremely useful when reflecting on anger. It’s not easy to use it correctly, but anger can be motivating if used appropriately. I have taken actions that were rooted in a feeling of anger, and that I did not regret afterwards. Indeed, I was fulfilling my obligations to defend myself and others.

      I have also felt anger in some situations but have not done or said anything, thinking that it was not right to act angry. Which was correct – I should not just *be angry*. But it was also incorrect not to act at all.

      And, of course, it’s also true that I can simply act “out of anger” – an unmitigated and emotional outburst that has a clear negative impact on myself and others. This is far more common, and more often the situation I face. I would classify Babu’s tirade into that category.

  8. J Nov 14, 2016 4:03 pm 8

    “Anger must exist within us, or else we could not defend our rights. But it has to be used appropriately. Our being resembles a mosaic in which everything has to be in its proper place. Anger and other such instincts all stem from our animal nature.
    A perfect person is one who recognizes each thing in its proper place”.
    “Control of the heart rests with the heart, but we are capable of withholding our reactions. When we don’t show a reaction, things will gradually resolve themselves, like a sedative that diminishes the intensity of the pain. If we are always to see ourselves at fault rather than others, we will not suffer. We have to find our own mistakes, not those of others. Such a mindset is beneficial for strengthening the soul.”
    Malak Jan Ne’mati, in “Life Isn’t Short But Time is Limited”, Leili Anvar (pages 125-126).

    There have been times in my life where I have bottled up my anger in a given situation in order to avoid showing the response of my imperious self in an act of rebellion (which, in my opinion, is what Babu is undergoing in this video). She may be making legitimate points, but perhaps she should wait until the state she is in passes before she addresses the issues. Then she could address them more calmly and rationally in a way that does not infringe on the rights of the others.

    Additionally, she is not finding any fault in her own behavior: perhaps she should have communicated some of these concerns to her husband far earlier rather than just bottling them up until they explode.

  9. PS Nov 14, 2016 6:54 pm 9

    I’ve gotten angry many times in my life and every time I felt ashamed of myself later. In most cases, later I would find another possible approach that could have resolved the situation without raging at people. Right after releasing my anger, I felt sick, bitter, remorseful and struggling to be productive at school or work. It essentially took away my inner peace needed to think clearly. Now that I am older, I plead with Him so that He won’t test me on this. I try to slip away from situations that could possibly ignite rage in me but there are still times that I can’t help it. As MS said above it takes a lot of experience to control and redirect it to make it balanced.

  10. Farhad Nov 14, 2016 7:56 pm 10

    I was very furiously angry with some people, and it was affecting my health, the health of my family, and likely that of the proposed perpetrator. I was not achieving anything materially speaking as a result, and was falling spiritually. It was ineffective and something had to change. I started praying daily for the those individuals I was angry at. This resulted in me feeling better, and in lower tension between me and them. My perspective of the whole situation changed and I became more light hearted towards it. But, what was most interesting was that even from a material point of view, I started gaining ground and advancing with respect to this particular commercial dispute. I believe the reason for this is that I was now dealing with it from a higher energy plane. This I was not expecting, I was not surprised by the effect it had from a spiritual standpoint but I was not expecting it would have such an impact materially speaking.

  11. Lisa Nov 14, 2016 8:56 pm 11

    To the first question: I think Babu’s outbreak of anger had a good effect for her at that moment. She said what was bothering her for a long time, but I think she will regret her outburst later when she calms down.
    I have a serious problem with anger myself. I have a bad reputation because of it and although I have worked on myself, the damage is done and people judge and identify me years later with this quality.

  12. MH Nov 14, 2016 9:24 pm 12

    It’s weird as for me it’s difficult to get angry!
    I regret not having been angry sometimes to let my siblings know about my real feelings… 🙁

    So my conclusion is that, sometimes, it can be positive to show some wrath!!
    But the difference is this: showing that we are angry, without being really angry 😉

    1. neuro Nov 16, 2016 5:43 am 12.1

      I agree! I think that expressing one’s anger in a calm way, so as to not feel pent-up, is quite healthy especially in spousal and sibling relationships. Babu may not have been so fired up if she had been able to express her anger calmly before. This rant was triggered by pent-up feelings in my opinion, and so I do not wholly think it is a bad thing. What we should do is have balance in our anger. It is impossible not to be angry, but we can tame our expression of such anger.

  13. AS Nov 14, 2016 9:56 pm 13

    It’s definitely a work in progress for me to fight my anger. When I get angry, afterwards, I feel bad and it takes a lot of energy out of me. Also, it’s not a good feeling when I see people around me getting their feelings hurt because of my anger. Fighting it has been hard since sometimes people around me irritate or upset me. I have been trying to hold my anger inside and to not show it as much as possible but it gets difficult at times. I try to remember Ostad Elahi’s saying in which he says that anger is like poison for the soul. I have realized the negative effects of anger far outweigh anything else in every single way.

  14. R Nov 14, 2016 9:58 pm 14

    It took me a while, but now I can see that all my anger comes from my lack of logic and my emotional approach. Due to that, people that I love have already disappeared from my life. Thinking about those moments, definitely brings in shame, regrets and fear of losing Him too. I must remind myself that there are reasons for things happening in life, and try to see His hand in every aspect of it. Before it is too late.

  15. Saga Nov 15, 2016 2:54 am 15

    I’m wondering how to deal with internalized anger. If we don’t lash out, we tend to have the need to talk to everyone else about it and if that anger doesn’t get neutralized through prayer etc. (which is a difficult process to achieve in my opinion), that anger can internalize into sadness. Many times when I’ve tried to auto suggest other thoughts to myself, I’ve managed to let go of the anger but not the sadness. So my question is how do we neutralize that anger?

    1. R Nov 16, 2016 7:43 am 15.1


      I have the same problem. Moreover the anger used to accumulate. The reason was that I never talked it out to solve the matter with the targeted individual. That said, in a few occasions I started giving it some time, sometimes even a month or more. During this anger timeout, thinking of what happened and why, being more logical and reminding myself of the purpose of my existence took the edge off. I couldn’t even remember why I was angry in the first place. Besides, the traces of sorrow after venting my anger stay inside me for many years.

    2. Nana Nov 18, 2016 5:05 am 15.2

      I’ve been working on this for a few years now and I’ve found 2 methods that work very well for me:

      1. I discovered that my anger was stemming from having high expectations. I especially had very high expectations of my family and close friends. And when my ideal expectations were not met, I would get angry, frustrated, upset & impatient. So after lowering my expectations (internally) and in some cases having absolute zero expectations, I now very rarely get angry or frustrated. As a result I’ve become a lot more independent, patient & grateful.

      2. When I do get angry, frustrated or impatient, stemming from high expectations, I first try to not express it initially, because it would be an instinctual reaction stemming from my ego that is driven by emotions. Therefore I give myself time to separate my emotions from the facts of the situation. Once my emotions are no longer in the way, I am able to find the right time & method to address any legitimate issues, which in certain cases takes courage. This practice has made me into a stronger, more reasonable & mature person (as opposed to being weak, driven by emotions).

    3. Linda Nov 22, 2016 2:56 pm 15.3

      @Nana, thank you so much for sharing your methods. This is very helpful. Zero expectation, see the facts, find the right time to address the legit issues. I’ll start with zero expectation.

  16. NN Nov 15, 2016 7:03 pm 16

    For me, my anger has made those around me to want to spend less time with me. It took me losing a dear friend to truly realize my anger. The feeling of regret and shame I felt in myself was daunting, and caused me weeks of struggle.
    I am now attempting to control this by removing myself from the situation when I feel I am getting angry such as saying “please excuse me, I need to run to the restroom” or by not immediately responding to text messages until I have cooled off.
    I think the best way to neutralize my anger is to put myself in the other person’s shoes and to remind myself of times that I have done the same exact thing as the perpetrator. It is truly humbling to remind ourselves that we, too, make many mistakes (most of which are not intended).

  17. HA Nov 16, 2016 4:33 am 17

    The traces of anger are feelings of frustration, shame, regret and guilt in oneself .. When someone else is angry with me, I often feel hurt, confused and vulnerable. I also tend to believe what the person says, whether it’s true or not because of how passionately they are speaking. If someone says something to me in anger, I tend to think it is how they truly feel deep down that they have bottled up, which makes what they are saying even more painful, because it is often very contrasting to their day to day expression toward me.
    I have self-diagnosed myself with having a bad temper for many years now. I noticed that this became worse over the years as a result of being around people who have issues dealing with their anger as well. I still struggle with fighting against my anger. In the moment, it is VERY difficult for me to keep a cool head and to not blow up. I try multiple methods depending on the context. When I am around others, I try to ask them to give me time or I try to take up another activity until I have cooled down. Before I blow up, I can sense the signs that I am about to lose my temper. In that time, I try to prevent it by imagining how I would feel if someone blew up on me. That usually prevents me from exploding, but if I am in a situation where someone continues to provoke me while I am already making an effort to keep calm, this often makes me lose it. I often don’t ask God for help in these moments, but it is something I think I should try.
    In reading over Question 2 and the other comments … I wanted to draw attention to the subject of whether or not “anger” is justified. There seems to be a consensus that there is such a thing. In my opinion, anger is never justified. Of course we must defend ourselves if our legitimate rights are being trampled on or if someone is attacking us. But why must we do so in an angry manner? There are ways to defend your right without expressing anger. Often it is just a matter of communication. Yes, we all bottle up feelings and can get quite emotional and passionate if we are frustrated about something. But again, there is still a difference between expressing frustration and “anger”. If you are trying to communicate with someone and they are not listening, or they are being angry, you always have the choice to walk away. I find that more often than not, anger only comes into play when we have reached our “boiling point” … which perhaps wouldn’t occur if we took steps to communicate our thoughts/feelings before we reach that boiling point.

  18. N. Nov 17, 2016 8:37 am 18

    I think when somebody is venting his anger, other people, as a result, may not feel like understanding his feelings. In the movie above, the woman was quite heart-broken and neither her husband or the other people seemed to want to understand her feelings. Also, she was going to get some sleeping pills which could be unhealthy for her. I think at least, instead of being bewildered and shocked, these people should have tried to calm her down, or at least to hide themselves so that she may calm down.

  19. Juliet Nov 18, 2016 4:30 am 19

    I have tried to trace my anger and I have found out that whenever I become angry, it comes from some of my weak points. For example I know that I am jealous of some people. When it comes to feeling my jealousy around them, I get angry and I want to explode. Another example is that I am proud and I feel that I am better than many people around me. When my pride is breaking down, I become angry and I want to explode again. What I am doing to defeat my anger is to try to defeat my jealousy and my pride. By defeating them I feel that I am controlling my anger better and better.

  20. Homayoun Nov 18, 2016 8:02 pm 20

    1. First of all my anger has caused pain for me and others. I felt ashamed after and damaged my relationships with those who were on the receiving end of it.

    2. I learned to fight against my anger, to control myself; I learned from experience that the end result will not be positive if I express my anger, and it will be beneficial to me and others if I control myself. Nothing good will come from anger.

    3. Lastly the best medicine for me has been to ask myself how certain people I admire would deal with this situation and to think about it for a while; this automatically calms me down and allows me to find a better way of expressing myself. Also thinking further about what God would think of the way I am about to think, act or behave.

  21. F. Nov 20, 2016 2:02 am 21

    I think if Babu could control the situation, the effects of her anger on others could be neutralized. For example, if Babu could to take her husband somewhere else to talk in private.

  22. Marzi Nov 20, 2016 11:13 pm 22

    Watching that scene made my heart ache. Unfortunately I can relate to that. The unbearable pain and agony Babu is going through is way more harmful and devastating on herself than others on many levels. Her anger is the result of many years of building up resentment and frustration.
    There are different kinds and levels of anger that cause us to act or react inappropriately. Anger is usually based on a sense of injustice or when things are not the way we want them to be. Almost any kind of anger is illegitimate and is not justified.
    One of my big weak points because of which I have lost a lot is anger. I am fighting against it and it is a work in progress. Over the years, I have learned to nip it in the bud! If I don’t, a little frustration or resentment turns into out-of-control anger which, even if I do not express it, will poison my soul. Anger is a lethal emotion.
    I try to find the roots of my anger and, usually, it is my own mistakes and shortcomings like pride, jealousy, expectations, selfishness, … For example if my boss or my sister did not treat me fairly, was it because I did something wrong or is it the way they are? In both cases my expectations were the root of my anger. I got angry when I did not get what I thought I was entitled to get. I did them many favours without them asking for anything, therefore they were not obligated to do anything for me in return.
    In rare cases, if the cause of my anger is not myself but a situation or another person, I try to stay calm and do something about it. If I cannot do anything about it, I try (which is very hard) to accept it the way it is and to not lose my inner peace.
    The most important thing for me is that fighting against my anger is not possible without praying and asking for His help.

  23. Saga Nov 25, 2016 6:19 pm 23

    Most comments are stating that her anger is wrong, but I must say that it takes a lot of courage to speak up about other people’s mistreatment of you. I sometimes wish I could be that honest but instead I keep it in. I don’t think her rant was all that bad. The difficulty is how do we walk that balanced line, where we defend ourselves, yet don’t loose control, or where we act like a mirror to make a point without transgressing a right etc. Things are not so black and white and how we handle the nuances is where we become wiser.

  24. Elements Nov 26, 2016 5:45 pm 24

    I must say I agree with Saga, for me was almost a privilege to hear someone speaking so passionately of their pains, but then I do come from a nation of ‘stiff upper lips’ where one tends to bottle things up. If her friends and family present care about her, they’ll address the issues later rather than holding resentment against her.

  25. Arjang Dec 08, 2016 7:04 am 25

    She made a real fool of herself didn’t she!
    Among the family members present who is going to love her more as the result of this behavior? Probably no one.

    She feels sorry for herself and feels everyone present here owes her something and has done her wrong. For the sake of argument let’s assume she is right about her personal complaints directed to each individual present. Even in the unlikely event of the bulb lighting up in their heads that she is right, no one would appreciate how she communicated her sentiment. Even if they have wronged her, her character assassination, disrespecting, insulting and belittling everyone in presence of the others through a rage rant is neither justified nor excusable.

    Although she should never allow people to take advantage of her (and she seems to be allowing it if she is right about what she says) however in defending her rights she has chosen a rash behavior over more reasonable prudent one.
    At best her loved ones will think she has lost it and as the result think that they need to put up with her, and at worst she will distance themselves from her.

  26. Ara Jan 14, 2017 8:55 am 26

    I agree with everyone’s comments. But I’d like to point out that watching this video has allowed me to think about what I could have done as her husband or family, to perhaps prevent this build-up from getting to where it got. Based on my own personal experience of being on both the receiving and the attacking end, I know that in both cases if I had paid more attention to my partner or them to me we could have both helped each other to defuse our anger from getting to that point.
    So instead of judging her, I think what we can take from this is how we can be proactive and help defuse these situations before they get to a boiling point, for most times we are also the cause of the anger with our selfish behaviors.

  27. Mr Jan 25, 2017 2:31 am 27

    The anger trances mostly affected myself as opposed to those around me. I don’t get angry easily but when I do my entire day is ruined and my productivity at work, my mood, and my daily routine go completely out of balance. To avoid getting angry I immediately try to find the cause of my anger, if it’s related to a weakness I try and push myself to do the opposite of that weakness. My anger usually stems from jealousy or pride so most of the time I try to do an altruistic act towards the person. Sometimes doing the opposite burns, literally! But when your voice of conscience tells you it’s the right thing to do I avoid arguing with it and I push myself to do the kind act.

  28. peach Jul 16, 2017 6:25 pm 28

    I literally need to have the last word when I argue with my parents.
    Doing the opposite a few weeks ago was so dignifying that I still have this feeling of pride when I think about it now.
    I simply left the conversation without having said the last sentence.

  29. FA Jul 10, 2019 5:34 am 29

    I have been angry for many years. Prior to attempting to understand Ostad Elahi’s teachings, I had never learned how to recognize the imperious self within me, hence, making life miserable for many people including myself. So sorry for the damage that I have caused!
    When I am angry, my face changes to an ugly face, I can not think or talk straight, I may even want to take revenge or hurt the other person, just like a possessed being or animal.
    So, anger is an awful emotion! It is illustrated in Babu’s behavior to some extent.

    With His help, I have now learned a few things that have helped me along the way:

    1. Remember that we all make mistakes
    2. Have the least amount of expectation (it is hard for me to not have any)!
    3. Try to be kind and humble by observing the real human beings around me
    4. Try to bite my tongue and think before responding
    5. Follow the Golden rule: do to others what you like to be done to you. Put myself in the other person’s place.
    6. Nothing happens without His approval
    7. Who is on stage, is it my celestial soul or my imperious self?
    8. And the most important one, ask for His help all the time

    This is a continuous effort for life as many have commented…Thank you for all the insight and discussions.

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