Clinical Counsellor and Author.
Anger is a natural emotion that we all feel. However, if our anger is not controlled, it can destroy our relationships at home and at work.
We typically get angry in specific situations. We call these situations “triggers”. Triggers could include being interrupted, disorganization, being patronized, tardiness, raised voices, feeling like we are being controlled etc. By knowing your triggers, you can plan to respond better if you know someone or something is going to trigger you.
When you become angry, you will notice that the sensations in your body start to change. You might feel sweaty, or your stomach might tingle or your muscles might start to tense. Those sensations are telling you to walk away from the situation for a moment and/or take deep breaths until you feel calm and rational.
Also, be aware of the automatic thoughts that go through your head (e.g. “They are doing that on purpose!!” or “They don’t care about me!!”). Those are unhelpful thoughts. Challenge them with other reasons why the person may be behaving the way they are, like “They might be busy or distracted” or “They probably didn’t understand” or “Maybe they’re having a bad day; it happens to all of us” or “Maybe they feel hurt”. Often we become angry because we jump to the worst conclusion about a person or situation.
By knowing your triggers, you can prepare to respond better. Notice your body when it starts to feel uneasy, and walk away or keep silent and cool off until you feel you can respond calmly and respectfully. Consider potential reasonable and valid explanations for why something happened before making negative or unhelpful assumptions. Doing this will reduce your anger.
The devil uses our anger as an opportunity to convince us to sin, whereas controlling our anger and staying calm and patient earns us blessings and rewards with God. When Abu Bakr, a close companion of the Prophet, tolerated a man insulting both himself and the Prophet, the Prophet smiled. But when Abu Bakr responded, the Prophet got up and left. Abu Bakr asked the Prophet about his reaction. The Prophet replied, “An angel came down from Heaven and he was rejecting what he had said to you. When you took revenge, a devil came down. I was not going to sit when the devil came down (Abu Dawud, Book 36, #4878)”. So don’t let the devil exploit your anger; the devil is doing this to distance you from God.
Prophet Muhammad said, “The strong is not the one who overcomes the people by his strength, but the strong is the one who controls himself while in anger (Sahih-Bukhari, Book 73, #135)”. Controlling our anger prevents us from saying mean things to others, harming others, becoming resentful or taking revenge and ultimately sinning. Instead, use the tips above, for God loves those who restrain anger and forgive (3:134).
Shereeza Ibrahim is a clinical counsellor. She is the owner of GTA Wellness Consultation (647-3344556) where she offers telephone-counselling services. She is also the author of the Islamic children’s book “Talaal and the Whispering Worrier”, which teaches children healthy coping strategies (available at Hijab Fashions).