Don’t let anger control you


(First published in my column, “Inspire and Equip!”, Tempo/Manila Bulletin Publishing Corp., Aug. 16, 2015)

“Speak when you are angry, and you will make the best speech you will ever regret.”

Do you agree with Ambrose Bierce?

When I heard of the old nut rage involving an airline executive, I had only one word to describe her response to cabin crew for serving macadamia nuts in a bag instead of on a plate – exaggerated!

According to, a Seoul court found the executive “guilty of forcing a flight to change its route, obstructing the flight’s captain in the performance of his duties, forcing a crew member off a plane and assaulting a crew member”.

Yes, the executive’s response was indeed exaggerated (in fact, unbelievable), but come to think of it, didn’t we, at any point, also respond in an exaggerated manner when we were angry or displeased?

It’s hard to think clearly and say the right things when we are angry, so it’s important to control ourselves before anger controls us. The following questions will help us learn about our own fits of anger.

  1. Identify the top three things that make you angry. What were the regrettable things you said or did? Was it worth it?
  2. What are the worst things you might say when these things happen again? How about the worst things you are capable of doing when the same things happen again? What will be the consequences? Is it worth it?
  3. Can’t you respond in a relaxed and peaceful manner – explaining your side and asserting your right in a polite, civilized manner?

Answering all these questions truthfully will help you respond to a provocative situation with wisdom and self control. In case you are provoked to anger, seek to learn from similar situations and avoid any exaggerated or emotionally charged response.

Sometimes we are easily angered because we are highly stressed, so the simplest things already irritate us. If this is your case, you need a break, maybe at least two days away from the source of stress, just to enjoy life and do some soul searching without mobile gadgets and internet connection.

What can we learn from the story of the airline executive? There was too much fuss over something trivial. The punishment was not commensurate to the offense, if serving macadamia nuts in a bag instead of on a plate were an offense.

Anger is said to be “an ill wind that blows out the lamp of reason and good judgment”. Never speak, act, or decide when you are angry. It’s better to “freeze” for a few seconds when angry, and strive to keep your composure than to lose your self control and say or do something you will surely regret. If you really need to express your displeasure and assert your right, you can always do so in a polite, civilized manner. Keep calm and enjoy the benefits!

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C5 Don't let anger control you

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