Anger Management Techniques

Identifying Anger

To someone who has subdued his or her mind and eradicated the last trace of anger, all beings are friends.

It is very important to identify the actual cause of whatever unhappiness we feel. If we are forever blaming our difficulties on others, this is a sure sign that there are still many problems and faults within our own mind. If we were truly peaceful inside and had our mind under control, difficult people or circumstances would not be able to disturb this peace, and so we would feel no compulsion to blame anyone or regard them as our enemy. To someone who has subdued his or her mind and eradicated the last trace of anger, all beings are friends. A Bodhisattva, for instance, whose sole motivation is to benefit others, has no enemies. Very few people wish to harm someone who is a friend of all the world, and even if someone did harm him or her, the Bodhisattva would not view this person as an enemy. With his mind dwelling in patience, he would remain calm and untroubled, and his love and respect for his assailant would be undiminished. Such is the power of a well-controlled mind. Therefore, if we really want to be rid of all enemies, all we need to do is uproot our own anger.

What Is Repression?

If we are able to recognize a negative train of thought before it develops into full-blown anger, it is not too hard to control. If we can do this, there is no danger of our anger being ‘bottled up’ and turning into resentment. Controlling anger and repressing anger are two very different things. Repression occurs when anger has developed fully in our mind but we fail to acknowledge its presence. We pretend to ourself and to others that we are not angry – we control the outward expression of anger but not the anger itself. This is very dangerous because the anger continues to seethe below the surface of our mind, gathering in strength until one day it inevitably explodes.

Those who truly wish to be happy should make the effort to free their minds from the poison of anger.

On the other hand, when we control anger we see exactly what is going on in our mind. We acknowledge honestly the angry stirrings in our mind for what they are, realize that allowing them to grow will only result in suffering, and then make a free and conscious decision to respond more constructively. If we do this skilfully, anger does not get a chance to develop properly, and so there is nothing to repress. Once we learn to control and overcome our anger in this way, we shall always find happiness, both in this life and in our future lives. Those who truly wish to be happy, therefore, should make the effort to free their minds from the poison of anger.

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© 2007 Anger Management Techniques. All rights reserved worldwide.

All quotations from Geshe Kelsang Gyatso's books copyright The New Kadampa Tradition - International Buddhist Union, all rights reserved worldwide. For more information on Geshe Kelsang's books visit Tharpa Publications.