Understanding Anger And Channelizing It Constructively

Posted on April 25, 2013

By Shobhit Agarwal:

One of the foremost lessons that I remember learning in the moral science classes that I had in school was centered on the concept of anger and it is detrimental effect in the development of our character. For two long decades I believed in that lesson. Moreover, through the course of my life, I came across more such quotes made by people with substantial credentials, each having less than kind words to say about ‘anger’.


Gradually I realized that the popular perception of ‘anger’ was based on a surface-level understanding of the virtue, wherein its intricacies had been conveniently ignored which resulted in it being one of the most misunderstood traits possessed by living beings. There is a negative vibe associated with the word which fails to do justice to the unharnessed potential that this virtue has that can bring about positive transformation.

Imagine this hypothetical situation — You are walking on a relatively desolate road. You notice a woman walking a few meters in front of you. Suddenly a gang of crooks come and start harassing the woman. Now, there are two ways to go about the situation — either you let your ‘survival instincts’ take control of your brain and you flee the scene, or you get ‘angry’ about the situation and decide to take the matters in your own hands and do something about it. ‘Anger’, in this case, isn’t as cursed as the popular perception about it is.

The point that I am trying to highlight is that it is very important to place anger, like other things, in context. When all other emotional attributes, be it honesty, loyalty, responsibility etc. are used with discretion and keeping the context in mind than why such step-brotherly treatment to anger?

To verify whether I was the only one who thinks that ‘anger’ deserves its fair share of good press, I researched a bit. What I found in my small little research was fascinating. Contrary to popular opinion, anger has done wonders to people who have made it their strength and used it to boost their resolve to achieve their goals and ambitions. Among the many stories that I came across, the most enthralling one that I found is that of Sir Anthony Hopkins.

Anthony Hopkins is considered to be one of the all-time greatest actors to have graced the silver screen. Known for his method acting and impeccable portrayals, very few people know that Hopkins had a very difficult childhood. He was, as people around him always referred to him as, an angry child. He couldn’t grasp anything that was being taught to him at school and would fail to take instructions from others. As a child, he felt resentful and rejected by the whole society.

But all that changed the moment he took to acting and made the most of his greatest resource, his anger. He says, “I believe that there’s something good in nature, in that if you have something that you think is a problem, which I thought I had as a kid, it turns into a great gift if you use it that way. Because it gives you enough push to help you rise above it, or it sucks you down into the mud. Sometimes, a good degree of constructive anger can get you going. And I was a pretty angry kid.

Anthony Hopkins’ is just one such instance. There are several others who have similar stories to narrate and experiences to share and have defied the conventional belief that “whatever is begun in anger ends in shame.

To sum it up, anger can be best described in the words of the Greek philosopher Aristotle:

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.

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