Anger Management Soul-utions

There is one state of mind that allows anger to develop:  the belief that things should be different than they are.

It can easily (and endlessly) be argued that cruelty, violence, unfairness and tragedy “should not” be.  But adopting the state of mind that releases us from the bondage of anger does not condone these sad facts of life.  It simply accepts what is instead of opposing it.  It accepts what is on the basis of reality—it HAS happened or IS happening, and so it SHOULD be.

Like a newborn baby, this new accepting state of mind needs to be nurtured and developed.  There is no guarantee how long it will take to reach maturity—the state where acceptance feels natural and even effortless.  It takes whatever time and effort it takes.  For most people it is a lifelong process where progress (but not perfection) is realized and the level of refinement continually raises the bar.

What is certain is that not accepting all things as they are (or “taking life on life’s terms” or “loving what is”) will keep us enslaved to anger and all the pain it manifests in our lives.

The Strategy of Truth

One key strategy for anger management is reflected in the well-known serenity prayer:

God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,

the courage to change the things I can,

and the wisdom to know the difference.

The “strategy” is an ever-deepening understanding of the truth:

God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,

ALL things initially fall into this category as soon as they have “happened!”  If there is something to be done in response, it will not help to lapse into the negative and draining state of anger.  Whatever it is has already happened and that cannot be changed!  So, as Swami Beyondananda says, “Peace on it!”

 the courage to change the things I can,

There is one and only one thing we truly have the power to change—ourselves.  And it indeed takes tremendous courage to resist the ego’s advice that all would be well if others would simply be and do differently.  All of our outward-directed activities are simply SUPPORTIVE of change.  They are like watering a plant—the action of watering provides a resource but cannot “make” the plant grow.  In our outward-directed activities we are attempting to support change, but we are not in a position of power to actually make change happen.  That position of power is only over our OWN change.  We always have the power to change our thoughts, attitudes, responses and behaviors.  Thus we always have the power to choose peace.

 and the wisdom to know the difference.

Personally I find it helpful to add: “and the clarity to remember this wisdom in time to save myself from foolish mistakes!”

Chief among wisdom is the discernment to choose our battles carefully.  We are not called to right all wrongs and deliver all arguments.  Rarely do we see enough of the big picture to truly know what is “right” anyway.  We are not called to sacrifice our lives; we are called to do our part through living our unique lives of purpose.  From the place of peace we can see clearly what is ours to do, and, although it may not be easy, it will not feel like just another burdensome obligation.  Nor will we be coming from a place of knee-jerk conflict (think of that “no-no-no” place in the “terrible twos” when EVERYTHING is opposed.)

 Healthy Soul-utions

Anger is not ignored, denied, “spiritualized away,” NOR allowed free run in our lives.  Instead we learn how to express it responsibly,  manage it, and allow our anger to lead us (through the practice of forgiveness) to spiritual growth and higher states of consciousness.  And, we learn how to feel less anger in the first place.

  • Cultivate Patience and Acceptance – As we take practical measures to control our behavior, we do the emotional and mental healing work to develop patience and acceptance toward life in general.  This inevitably leads to feeling less anger.
  • Safe Outlets for Processing – Practice self-awareness (admitting to ourselves when we are angry), healing activities with self, a counselor and/or with trusted friends, physical activities and exercises to process and release anger energy.  This kind of processing leads us to the place where we might choose to have responsible and safe discussions with key people in our lives with whom we have anger issues.  Or, through this work we may also find we no longer need to have a particular discussion.
  • Responsible Expression of Anger Energy for the Well-Being and Safety of All – This concept is worthy of repeating.  We choose to engage in physical activities and intentional exercises to access and release anger energy.  We control when and how we express the energy of anger.  We do not deny or ignore it and then let it slip out unintentionally.  We do not “stuff” anger.  Depression has been aptly described as anger turned inward.  We choose not to use our anger to hurt others or ourselves.  This always means responsible expression.
  • Avoid Avoidance Strategies – While we cultivate patience and acceptance to avoid developing angry feelings in the first place, we do not avoid the anger we already feel.  Alcohol, drugs, prescription medications, food or fasting, excessive shopping, overwork, excessive TV, nonstop activity and other distractions that prevent us from experiencing our feelings of anger (and other emotions) are consciously avoided when we are angry.  Any of these that have developed into an addictive response are always avoided or used with care.  When we are dealing with our emotions responsibly, legal and non-excessive distractions are permissible, useful and fun.  Life is not “all work and no play.”
  • Keep Plugging Away at the Background Work – Dealing with the habitual thought pattern of anger is not a quick fix.  The issues that underlie anger tend to be deep, so. . .
  1. Avoid Minimizing – Even anger that seems discernible only to you (in your own head) is damaging to your own peace and well-being.  The anger you let out in uncontrolled, irresponsible, unconscious ways is even more so.  Just ask anyone you’ve dumped on.
  2. Avoid Dealing with Anger Only Superficially The first goal of anger management is to stop the rage, violent actions, outbursts, and other angry behaviors that do so much damage in life.  Such techniques as counting to 10, self-relaxation and de-catastrophizing are extremely useful.  But don’t stop there.  The fix for anger is in your mind, where anger is created, justified and fed.
  • Anger Spreads Dis-Ease – Anger spreads pain and the energy of pain wherever it goes.  So you do your work not only for yourself, but for everyone connected to your energy field.  When you consider your scope as a physical being, that’s enough in itself.  But since we’re One in the spiritual realm, it’s a VAST connection.  Simply put, YOUR work with YOUR anger matters to everyONE!

If [someone] tries to hurt me, they offer me the opportunity to forgive, and I will not refuse them,

for my prayer is that we all be delivered from our evils.  (Psalm 141:5)

Psalm 141 (A psalm of King David)

I call to you, LORD, therefore please hear my call and come quickly to me;

Let my prayer rise up to you like the purest of incense and may the lifting up of my hands demonstrate my humble surrender.

Set a guardian angel at the door of my mouth, LORD, that I may speak no evil.

Teach me to do only good, rather than harm and to forgive those who are harmful.

If a man or woman tries to hurt me, they offer me the opportunity to forgive, and I will not refuse them,

   for my prayer is that we all be delivered from our evils.  

While we are developing the skills and presence of mind to keep our behavior in check, we can begin to learn the practice of complete forgiveness that takes back our projections and transmutes all anger back to the energy of love.  This process is covered extensively in my book Healing Loss: Choose Love Now.  For more discussion of anger as it relates to spirituality, see my article “Anger – An Insistent Call to Healing” at .

With Peace and Love,

Mira Carroll Purchase paperback Sample or purchase Healing Loss eBook

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Healing Loss: Choose Love Now by Miradrienne Carroll

outlines spiritual principles and practices

for anyone who wants to heal, at any time,

from the context of healing grief and loss.

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