Manage Anger

How to manage our anger before venting it at our family?

This story is in the present. This is my war on my anger issues. When you think of anger issues, you might be thinking of some stereotypes. You don't have to. Look in the mirror. Did you know that the best mirror you have at home is your spouse and children?

Being strong is always a positive trait but not being able to cope with things you do not like is never good. With how much certainty can you claim that what you say is ultimately correct? That’s the problem I had. I believed that I was always right and as a result I was gradually losing the tolerance to accept my mistakes. It was arrogance that was building inside of me, unknowingly, yet proudly.

It took years for me to realize this. I got married. Alhamdulillah, I was blessed with a loving wife who molded herself according to my desires. Then we had wonderful children. With the children, my anger issues became very visible to myself. I tried to control my anger—tried applying all the principles: sitting down, drinking water, counting to ten…but when anger hit, none of these ideas helped. I was out of control.

All these years I have been thankful to Allah for all the blessings He showered on me. I thought if He decided to get angry with me like I do with my children, where would I be? That thought made me tremble with fear. A brother once explained why our beloved Holy Prophet Muhammad (may peace and blessings of Allah be on him) commented that if it was allowed to worship a living being, he would have asked wives to worship husbands. The worship here is not meant as a status symbol. The emphasis is really on the expectations from us, husbands—a kind heart, someone who can forgive and continue supporting, oft-returning, someone who will hold hands in difficult times and carry in arms when things get worse. I thought to myself, “Am I that husband? Do my family members reach out to God through me?” Then came the topic of arrogance. During a moral training session, our local chapter president covered various hidden arrogances we all face every day and how strongly the Promised Messiah (may peace be on him) had condemned that. Once again, I thought to myself, “Am I being arrogant with my children?”—Needless to say, I was not pleased with the answer.

It is true that getting angry is sometimes necessary. However, I found that anger was not the real problem. It is how we expressed that anger which is the larger issue at hand. That is where the arrogance comes over us, and instead of a divinely inspired response we end up uttering words that we regret.

Fortunately, I am on a path of recovery now. I cannot claim that I am fully cured, but at least I am getting better. My wife and kids stand witness to the changes I have brought about. This transformation is only possible through prayers. For people like me, who are not strong in getting results from prayers, we need to improve the quality of our prayers.

Here are some suggestions:

  • Identify arrogance around you. The idea is not to blame others, but to understand what arrogance means. For weaker souls like me, it is easy to identify faults with others. Then try to detect arrogance in yourself. That, indeed, is the real first step towards recovery.
  • See if you are being divine to your family. Do you act the way you want Allah to act towards you?
  • Remember, you have the responsibility of running the home. It is your responsibility to keep your wife and kids at peace. If you lose peace, that is not an excuse against your family. But if they lose peace, it is your fault indeed.
  • If kids are driving you crazy, instead of showing your anger to them, try thinking—these kids are wonderful beings. Why are they acting like this? Are they under stress? What am I trying to help them with? Is showing anger the right response?
  • All along, keep praying. Take to congregational Prayer when possible. Not at home. Preferably, get to the mosque or a Salat center. Spend longer time in your personal prostrations.
  • Set up a goal for any task you are pursuing. The goal should be beyond what is normally possible with your best effort—as our local chapter president says, “Where math does not add up, pray for it with all your heart and experience magic.” When you reach your target, Insha’allah you will see yourself mellowing down and you will feel like all your prayers have been accepted.
  • The toughest part is to hang in there and keep the peace. A fall from a higher altitude is always riskier.
  • Brothers, this has been my journey. I seek your prayers for myself to keep my pace and altitude.

    Note: This is a real life story from a brother in Dallas. For privacy, name is not disclosed. The story is being told as gratitude to Allah and with prayers that it may help others as well.