I remember sitting in my office thinking about my coworker who had just gotten fired.
He was someone with seniority, good education and impressive experience in his field. He was also a father and a husband… Sadly, one day this great person was headed home to tell his family that he lost his job… because he couldn’t control his anger!
His family didn’t have a lot of savings; we know that they had used all their savings to move closer to their son’s college in order to help him succeed.
When he first began the job, he had a great disposition and always smiled. Overtime; however, the stressors of the job began to take their toll on him, and instead of finding ways to handle that stress, he began to grow more irritable. Instead of thinking and talking positively, his conversations were more focused on complaining and expressing frustrations. Despite that, no one would have guessed that he could get so angry that he would physically push someone in the office!
The ongoing lack of self-awareness and inability to implement positive coping techniques resulted in an outburst of anger that cost him his job, reputation, and family’s stability.
When we observe situations like this, we realize how the Prophet’s advice is indispensably important for us.
A man came to the Prophet and said, “Counsel me,” so he said, “Do not become angry.” The man repeated [his request for counsel] several times, and [each time] he said, “Do not become angry.” [Al-Bukhari]
Dealing with Anger from the Qur’an and Sunnah
The Qur’an and Sunnah have numerous tips that help one observe his shortcomings, and then learn how to deal with them. Here are some tips.
1. Seeking Allah’s Help and making Dua regularly
The daily prayers teach us to seek the help of Allah in everything. We say in every prayer,
“It is You we worship and You we ask for help.” [Qur’an: Chapter 1, Verse 5]
And Allah says:
“Call upon Me; I will respond to you.” [Qur’an: Chapter 40, Verse 60]
There is also this beautiful dua that the Prophet taught us:
“O Allah, by Your knowledge of the unseen and Your power over creation, keep me alive so long as You know that living is good for me and cause me to die when You know that death is better for me. O Allah, cause me to fear You in secret and in public. I ask You to make me true in speech in times of pleasure and of anger. I ask You to make me moderate in times of wealth and poverty. And I ask You for everlasting delight and joy that will never cease. I ask You to make me pleased with that which You have decreed and for an easy life after death. I ask You for the sweetness of looking upon Your face and a longing to meet You in a manner that does not entail a calamity that will bring about harm or a trial that will cause deviation. O Allah, beautify us with the adornment of faith and make us among those who guide and are rightly guided.” [Sunan an-Nasa’i]
2. Seeking refuge in Allah from the accursed devil
Allah says in the Qur’an:
“And if there comes to you from Satan an evil suggestion, then seek refuge in Allah. Indeed, He is the Hearing, the Knowing” [Qur’an: Chapter 41 , Verse 36]
Similarly, we find in the hadith that Sulaiman bin Surad reported:
I was sitting with the Prophet when two men began to quarrel and curse each other and the face of one of them turned red and the veins of his neck were swollen (from rage). Messenger of Allah said, “I know of a word, if he were to utter that, his rage would vanish and that is: A’udhu billahi minash-Shaitan nir-rajim (I seek refuge with Allah from Satan, the accursed).” So they (Companions) said to him: “The Prophet tells you to utter: ‘I seek refuge with Allah from Satan, the accursed.” [Al-Bukhari and Muslim]
3. Changing one’s position
Narrated AbuDharr :
The Messenger of Allah said to us: When one of you becomes angry while standing, he should sit down. If the anger leaves him, well and good; otherwise he should lie down. [Sunan Abi Dawud]
The Messenger of Allah says, “He who believes in Allah and the Last Day, must speak good or remain silent.” [Al-Bukhari and Muslim]
Step-by-step approach to controlling anger
Emotions and thoughts are linked to our behaviors; this means that if we purposefully influence our thoughts, we can influence our emotions or feelings. This will then lead to a positive change in our behavior.
We can apply the following step-by-step approach to managing anger in workplace situations:
- Recognize the triggers or stimuli that contribute to your anger.
- Increase self-awareness of emotions, recognize when you are having an emotional response to a situation.
- Know your positive coping skills that help de-escalate your emotions.
- Implement prevention to minimize the chances of bursting into anger.
The first step in managing anger at work is to recognize our unique psychological triggers. What upsets one person may not faze another.
When you identify your triggers as well as accept responsibility for what you may play in that trigger, you are empowering yourself to feel differently if you choose to. When you identify that trigger you can increase your awareness of WHY you feel it and how you can influence it.
Examples of emotional work triggers
- Feeling unappreciated.
- Feeling unaccepted by coworkers.
- Feeling pressured due to a close deadline.
Then we can move to therapeutic coping skills.
It is important to try a variety of coping skills until you determine what works best for you. Different techniques exist for anger management depending on the person and workplace situation. Some skills for anger management should be done on a regular basis like making dua, while others are meant to be implemented during the escalated moment such as breathing skills.
Coping skills while angry
- In that moment of anger, seek refuge in Allah and say the supplication with sincere intention from the heart. Don’t just say it without any understanding.
- Breathe slowly through the nose and out the mouth. Consciously control your breathing and do not feel compelled to speak to anyone until you can feel your heart rate slowing and your breathing becoming more relaxed.
- Sit by yourself away from others and engage in dhikr. Make dua during this time as well.
- Read or listen to Qur’an.
- Change your posture, if you are standing then sit down or lay down.
- Perform wudu’ (ablution) and take time to pray for guidance.
Dealing with the situation is something positive, but what can drastically help as well is learning/applying the prevention methods. We need to make the prevention methods part of our lifestyles, especially if we know we’re prone to anger and/or emotional outbursts.
Here are some essentials:
- Devote regular time to reading and contemplating the Qur’an daily. Allah says: “Those who have believed and whose hearts are assured by the remembrance of Allah. Unquestionably, by the remembrance of Allah hearts are assured.” [Qur’an: Chapter 13: Verse 28]
- Read and study the Seerah to find perfect examples from the life of the Prophet on emotional control and how to treat others.
- Sitting down with the family for a meal after a day of work. Even if work needs to get done it can wait until after family time.
- Implementing better time management if often stressed about deadlines.
- Devote regular time to exercise each week and strive to make physically healthier decisions.
If someone is actively identifying their triggers/emotions and their coping skills alongside prevention; then they are taking the reins of their spiritual, emotional and family health. When we are in control of our own emotions, we are better able to make productive and positive behavioral choices. The results of those positive and controlled choices would praise and validate our efforts, which act as a reward system emotionally. Improvements in anger management for working professionals also increase the likelihood of team building at work and dividing up work fairly.
This is why techniques related to how working professionals can manage their anger and prevent it from impacting their family and spiritual health is beneficial not only for the individual but also for fostering a positive work culture and healthy family dynamic.
If you have implemented any coping skills related to anger or have any insights, please feel free to share anything you think could be of benefit to others.