Unable to Control Your Anger? These 3 Tips Will Help You

Do you get angry? Often? How do you express your anger?

Do you think you are unique in your family in the way you express your anger? If not, do you find yourself repeating another family member’s style of expressing anger?

Have you witnessed someone become angry recently? What about in your own family? How did their reaction make you feel?

The popular advice we often hear these days about handling anger is “don’t hold it in, let it out”. We are told that it is unhealthy to hold in our anger.

Television shows, movies, and video games tend to sensationalize outbursts of anger; often showing in too much detail the facial expressions of angry people and the wanton destruction they wreak.

Although the great debate as to how much popular entertainment influences personal lives rages on, one thing is for sure: Anger hurts not only the person becoming angry but also people close to that person. Frequent outbursts of anger ultimately will negatively affect a person’s physical health as well.

According to Islamic teachings, outbursts of anger are supposed to never occur. Our role model is the best of creation and the beloved of Allah the Almighty, Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him).

So here is the challenge: Find one instance in which Prophet Muhammad had an outburst due to becoming angry. You will never meet the challenge because it just did not happen.

There are instances in which his face became red and he was visibly upset. We are told that his demeanor changed. But we never find an instance in which his emotions betrayed him to the degree that he had an outburst of anger.

How odd, indeed, that despite claiming our sincere desire to emulate the Prophet, you and I continue to exercise little self-restraint when we are angry. Instead, we say hurtful things; sometimes, in our weakest moments, we resort to pushing, hitting, or punching others, or throwing things at them.

This is a shameful situation indeed. Each of us must come to terms with our own inability and weakness to exercise self-restraint when something upsets us. Let’s get started.

Increase Self-Awareness

We all have to spend some time on self-reflection, on getting to know ourselves. Young people are often too busy growing up, trying to answer the questions “who am I?” and “what do I want to be?”

When it comes to restraining ourselves from anger, the first step must be to increase our self-awareness. We need to  have a sense of what makes us upset. Too often, we see and feel the signs of the onset of anger, but not having enough self-awareness, we miss all the cues until it is too late.

Think about it. What gets you all worked up? which things annoy you a little? What annoys you a lot?

Not sure? Think of the last time you got angry. Do you remember why you got angry? What was the cause of your anger? Did that cause suddenly occur or did you see the warning signs? Can you recall if you were aware of the warning signs at that time? Did you ignore them?

Increasing self-awareness is challenging, and many young people opt to keep a journal so that they can document their thoughts and keep track of whatever enlightening thoughts they have about themselves. How will you increase your self-awareness?

Increase Self-Restraint

Among the teachings of the Quran and our beloved Prophet, the most relevant advice about controlling anger encourages self-restraint. Allah the Almighty describes the best of us as,

{…those who spend (freely), whether in prosperity, or in adversity; who restrain anger, and pardon (all) men; for Allah loves those who do good} (Aal `Imran 3:134).

We must all strive not only to restrain our anger but to be ready to forgive and pardon those whose actions or words might have angered us. Indeed, we have three relevant teachings from Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him):

When Allah completed the creation, He wrote in His Book which is with Him on His Throne, ‘My Mercy overpowers My anger.‘” (Al-Bukhari)

The strong is not the one who overcomes people by his strength, but the strong is the one who controls himself when in anger.” (Al-Bukhari)

The height of self-restraint, of course, is not to get angry to begin with. This is enjoined upon us by Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) in the following hadith:

A man said to the Prophet, “Advise me!” The Prophet said, “Do not get angry.” The man asked (the same) again and again, and the Prophet said each time, “Do not get angry.” (Al-Bukhari)

It is worthwhile to remember that peace, solace, and tranquility are the outcomes of the absence of anger, and it is therefore fitting that all of these teachings of Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) were narrated by a Companion known for his self-restraint, namely, Abu Hurairah (may Allah be pleased with him).