Just because we have a right to be angry doesn’t mean we are right to be angry

Sometimes, people wrong us by acting foolishly, irresponsibly or treacherously. At such times, we feel angry with them and also feel that our anger is justified.

Still, acting angrily may not be the right thing to do. Why not? Because if we want to sustain any relationship, we need to focus not on claiming our rights, but on considering what is right.

However, anger gives us a deceptive certainty that we are doing the right thing, and we don’t need to consider the consequences of our angry outbursts. The heat of anger melts the barricade of our intelligence and leaves us defenseless against the waves of violent impulses rising in our consciousness. Just as anger sabotages our intelligence, it also sabotages others’ intelligence. That’s why if we act angrily, we increase the chances that others will also react angrily, thereby escalating a reconcilable difference into a litany of apparently irreconcilable differences. And the resulting confrontation can end up causing far greater destruction than whatever we were so angrily seeking to protect. Thus does anger backfire. Pertinently, the Bhagavad-gita cautions that anger paves our way to hellish life, in both this and the next world (16.21).

How can we focus on doing what is right, not on claiming our rights? By using our intelligence to contemplate the best course of action. Just a few moments of contemplation will show us that acting according to our anger is the worst thing to do.

Moreover, if we strengthen our intelligence by regular scriptural study and spiritual practice, we will be better positioned to deal with anger whenever it arises. Amidst provocative situations, we can prayerfully and purposefully focus on determining our core concern and addressing it in a way that is least aggressive and most effective.


Think it over:

  • How does anger affect our intelligence?
  • How can anger backfire?
  • Do you feel you have a right to be angry with someone? How can you shift your focus to doing what is right?

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