"Anger Management, or How to Control Yourself"

"Who spend [in the cause of Allah] during ease and hardship and who restrain anger and who pardon the people - and Allah loves the doers of good" Holy Quran 3:134

From this ayat we see that Allah is instructing us to forgive the people, to do good to people even if they wronged us, to be kind to people even if we think they don't deserve it. Allah is telling us to control our emotions and to show the best of our character. Sometimes we find ourselves in situations where we get angry, bad tampered, irritated. We might find ourselves in situations where we cannot control our emotions and therefore we unintentionally hurt others. Or maybe we are in a situation where someone has wronged us, hurt us, or being aggressive towards us, which pushed us to lose control of ourselves. Some of you might agree that there are always those people in our lives that we have to meet no matter how much we don’t want to. Or perhaps, there are some things that irritate you in your friend or a co-worker that is difficult to tolerate such as his mood swings or bad temper. There are other situations, when the actual problem is you. For example, you might be irritated about the fact that your friend earns more money than you; or maybe you dislike your in-law just because you created this idea in your head that they dislike you because it seems to you that they are being aggressive and mean. In most cases it is better to solve the problem by talking to this person about what bothers you. But if it is not the case, perhaps you should learn how to be more tolerant to people. In any way, for your own good the best solution is to stay positive, or at least try not to feel angry because negative thoughts will starve your moral strengths as well as limit your brain power. And why do we need to hurt ourselves, right?! In this blog post I want to share with you some methods that I try to implement in my own life. I understand that it can be quite challenging to overcome bad temper or to tolerate certain people; however, it’s never too late to begin working on yourself, on your ego, on you nafs, so let’s begin.

  1. Think about people as a test

“And certainly, We shall test you with something of fear, hunger, loss of wealth, lives and fruits, but give glad tidings to the patient ones.” (Quran 2:155). When you begin to feel irritated with something or someone, think about it as a test from Allah. Think about that as if God is giving you this opportunity to learn something very beneficial, to develop your new abilities and to get rid of your own bad habits. For example, if you have to meet with a person, who irritates you and makes you angry very easily, use this meeting as an opportunity to learn how to control your anger. In fact, if you simply try to avoid such meetings, you’ll never learn how to overcome these feeling. And what if you have to face a similar situation in future?! So, walk towards that problem, meet with that person and use it as an opportunity to get over your own emotions. Be your own controller!

If interacting with particular people brings you to the point where you begin to have a strong argument, try to extract only positive experiences out of those meetings by controlling yourself and by becoming more tolerable to another person’s opinion. Do not let anger to control you! Try to analyze your feelings and emotions, understand them and overcome them. Let’s make those meetings as a check up of our control center. Of course it doesn’t mean that you have to agree with what everyone is saying, but do not fight with them either especially when you see that this person is not acceptable of other people opinions. Be smarter, change the topic and let him feel like he ‘won’ tis game because the truth is that you are the winner! You are the one who managed to control your reaction to that situation, so you should be proud of yourself. Remember that you are the one, who is controlling your own emotions! Your negative feelings do not just come because this person is bad or he is acting aggressively. Most of the time,  you are the one who allowed him to make you feel this way. It’s not correct to say that someone is making you feel bad because of how he acts. You are the one who is getting angry because of someone else’s actions! Only you are responsible for your emotions. It doesn’t necessary mean that you have to tolerate actions of every single person. But what you can do in these situations is to learn how to control your own anger and emotions. Therefore, when you have to meet with those people, who tend to make you mad, angry, bad tempered, irritated, you are actually meeting with your own ‘demons’. And the truth is that you can’t win those demons unless you face them. When you start treating those people like a test from God in attempt to become a better person, you will become more tolerable. You will stop seeing those meetings as a reason to get frustrated; instead, you will see it as a chance to work on your inner self and to improve your own character. All in all, you are the one who will benefit from it, not others.  

  1. Be sincere
Nothing makes it worse than tension and closeness between people in the period of mutual misunderstanding. In this case, try to discuss your problems, try to find out what is the reason behind all of that tension. Never being mean and harsh helped anyone to come to an understanding. However, being open to each other and sincere during the conversation is the ultimate key to success in human relationships. Try to be straightforward and talk about the things that bother both of you. Here is the trick, BE PATIENT and CALM! When you resist the anger, you will have a chance to discuss everything that bothers both of you. You will be able to share your anxieties; and therefore, you will get a chance to understand what was the reason behind misunderstanding. Maybe in your imagination you created a picture about that person in all negative ways. However, if two of you will have a very open conversation, you will realize that his personality does not fit into your imaginary representation about him. This method of an open dialogue helps people to understand each other.  
  1. Try to understand other people
If you try to understand actions of other people instead of criticizing them, you will find out that they are doing something in a certain way just because of their psychological well being and worldview. It’s quite simple, right?! But let’s talk about this a little bit more in details. Anger and frustration are usually caused by the lack of understanding others. When you can’t ‘put yourself in someone else’s shoes’ you can only think that this person is mean, unfair, and bad. You think that his behavior can't be justified by any means. Ok, let's imagine that one of your relatives was being rude and had an aggressive attitude towards you the other day. You are so hurt that you don’t even want to justify her actions. Everything she did was wrong and therefore she is a bad person. But what if you think about it this way. Maybe she was at that period of the month when women tend to act like ‘monsters’, or maybe she was feeling so hungry and therefore became hANGRY. Or maybe she has some chronical medical conditions, which you are not aware of, which made her feel weak and therefore bad tempered and aggressive towards you. When you try to understand her just a little bit, you will at least realize two things:
  1. Her anger and bad temper are logical consequences of her temperament. You are not the reason why she is acting this way. It’s just something she was born and raised with that makes her act a certain way with people.
  1. It will be easier to put yourself in her shoes when you try to understand her, so perhaps then you will start to feel bad for her and give a credit for her behavior. Try to be more understandable, try to imagine yourself having all those sicknesses just for a second and your anger and criticism will disappear.

“Do not concern yourself with things about which you have no knowledge. Verily, your hearing, sight, and heart -- all of them will be called to account" (Quran 17:36).
Have you noticed that it’s so easy to criticize others? Our mind is so interesting... It finds an enjoyment when we begin to discuss someone else’s faults. We tend to find any reason to tell ourselves that others are worse than us. But when we begin to criticize others on a regular basis, people will seem to us as if they are full of faults and bad habits. Eventually, what will happen is that you will stop seeing any goodness in people. The Prophet Muhammad once asked his followers, “Do you know what backbiting is?” They said, “Allah and His Messenger know best.” He continued, “Saying something about your brother that he dislikes.” Someone then asked, “What if what I say about my brother is true?” The Prophet Muhammad responded: “If what you say is true then you have backbitten about him, and if it is not true, then you have slandered him.” So, the advice is to stop criticizing, gossiping and backbiting. Those things are not going to make you any happier. Try to see good in people. Try to accept them. Yes, people tend to be angry, lazy, greedy, and bad tempered from time to time, but is it something new for you?! I don’t think so… From my own experience, I could assure you that when you let the situation go you will feel relieved. The more peaceful you feel, the more you are in control of your own mind, feelings, and emotions. Always remember, the highest rewards will be awaiting those who overcome their own nafs (ego) by being good to others especially in the times when it's the hardest thing to do. When someone makes you angry he can have control over you. Don’t’ let that happen and just say salam (peace) and leave the situation.
“The strong man is not the one who can wrestle, but it is the one who can control himself when he is angry.” (Bukhari)  

Here are some great anger management duas for you:

  1. Dua for anger control by Prophet Sallallahu Alayhe Wasallam

    أَعُوذُ بِاللَّهِ مِنَ الشَّيْطَانِ الرَّجِيمِ

    “Aaoozu Billahe Minashshaitan Nirrajeem” “I seek refuge in Allah from the accursed Satan”. (Mishkat and Hisnul Hasin)
  2. Recite this verse to have patience and get rid of your anger “Ya Ayyo Halladina ‘AmanoosTa’noo Bissabr Wassalat Inna Lillaha M’assabereen”

    يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا اسْتَعِينُوا بِالصَّبْرِ وَالصَّلَاةِ ۚ إِنَّ اللَّهَ مَعَ الصَّابِرِينَ

    O you who believe! Seek help in patience and As-Salat (the prayer). Truly! Allah is with As-Sabirin.