3 Lessons to See Anger in a New Way | The BridgeMaker

3 Lessons to See Anger in a New Way

By on Jan 01, 2014


letting go of anger

Anybody can become angry — that is easy, but to be angry with the right person and to the right degree and at the right time and for the right purpose, and in the right way — that is not within everybody’s power and is not easy. – Aristotle

I was one of the laziest students in high school. But one thing that I am thankful for is that I am capable of getting better grades than those who worked harder than me.

This ability had helped me enter a medical school in Australia and I am also grateful for that too.

But my father didn’t like the grades I was making. I thought it was good enough. Sometimes I am at the top and sometimes I am in the middle. He said that I was inconsistent, and I never took heed of his words.

Anger Serves Its Purpose

As a 15 year-old-student in Malaysia, I need to take one of the compulsory high school tests called PMR. Although there was a more important test that I would need to take at 17 years old which was the SPM, PMR was needed to determine what kind of class I’ll be studying in for the next two years.

In one of the practice test, which was before the trial test, I scored badly. I didn’t care that much and I see it as just one of my inconsistencies.

My high school was actually a boarding school and after the test, my parents visited me the next Saturday. I still remembered the moment I told my father of my results. He was furious.

You see…he believed that I am capable of getting better results and he thought that I was wasting my abilities.

It didn’t end happily.

After he lectured me in his car, I said my goodbye. I was furious. I told myself that I would prove him wrong. I studied really hard to the extent that I didn’t really remember what I was doing most of the time. I just focused on studying in my classroom for long hours and usually I was in there until everyone else left.

As result, I had the highest score for PMR and I had my name etched on a wooden plaque in the school hall for the title ‘Best Student of PMR 2008.’

The anger served its purpose.

Two years after that, I was still thinking about the outcome. I asked myself if am happy after proving my father wrong. Instead of answers, what I found out was three lessons that helped me to see anger in a new way.

  1. Anger needs to be focused
    Most of us get angry easily. But the problem is not in being angry. It is actually being angry reactively.

    When we sense that we are starting to feel angry, we rarely take a time to pause and think. We straight out reacted to the feeling of anger. Anger can override your rational side so that’s why people who are angry would always do something that they would regret afterwards.

    I was lucky because although I didn’t stop to pause and think, after I went back to my room, I pondered upon my anger and decided to use the burning feeling, the anger towards my father, as a motivational tool for me to work hard in my studies. I focused my anger to get my needed outcome.

  2. Anger is not an evil emotion
    We must accept anger as one of the ‘good’ emotions. Most of the time, we hear stories of people complaining how their friends, parents, and bosses are always angry. Does the fact that these people are angry indicate the evilness of anger?

    Not at all.

    People are angry because they care about something. You are the same. You are also angry because you care about something too.

    Instead of feeling bad when you are angry at someone, it is better if you see your anger in a better perspective. Ask yourself “Why am I angry?”

    When I ask myself why I am angry after my father scolded me, I realized that I am not angry at my father. I was angry at myself for not using my abilities to the fullest. I was angry because I care about myself.

  3. Let it go
    Even though I got what I wanted – I had proved to my father that I was not a lazy person who wasted my own ability – for months I still had the lingering anger. It wasn’t a strong one but I know it would influence my perception towards my father. I was inclined to think badly about him.

    A year after that, time healed the wound left by the anger. But the one that extinguished the burn altogether was my decision to let it go.

    I decided that it wasn’t worth thinking about and I know that my father only wants the best of me.

    Use your anger and focus it one thing the world needed most – change.

Wan is a the creator of Overthinker's Advice, a personal development blog where he shares the lessons he learnt about life and how it can help others to become a cooler person through improving one own's attitude towards life. He also has a free newsletter on personal development that includes a free download to his book "Wan's Random Thoughts on How to Become Cooler.”

  • What an motivational post. I got a lot of effective techniques to control my anger from this post. It is true that when we get angry, it acts as an obstacle to our rational thinking. At that time we should take a break to control our mind. That idea really attracted me. Many of us will react instantly. Taking a pause in an anger situation is very difficult but really effective for us to take control over the uncontrollable situation. I have also written about anger management techniques in my blog. Than you for sharing this valuable information.

  • Karen Jolly

    Wonderful post Wan! I think anger is something we all tend to think of in a very negative way (usually because someone in the past lashed out in anger towards us.) But your points are right on, we can use anger as another aspect of ourselves that has a purpose…and then let it go. Excellent – thank you for sharing this!

    • Wan Muhammad Zulfikri Bin Wan

      Thanks for the compliment Karen.
      Robert Kiyosaki says that money is like a coin and it has two sides – good or bad.

      Anger is the same way. It has its good side and its bad side. Rather than eradicating it completely, we can use it as a way to pursue our purpose in life.

  • Test