If you reflect on your childhood or even think about life as an adult, I am sure you can conjure up names of a few people who always seem angry. They might express it differently — with an outburst, uncalled-for criticism, constantly grumbling, being impatient, or opting for uncalled-for judgments.
Some people are inept at processing emotions and are reactive in their expression. They can feel angry on a regular basis, even when the circumstances are not particularly provocative. I remember one such uncle in my family. He constantly looked grumpy. When I think about it, I rarely ever saw him smile. People feared his visit because he wasn’t shy to be demanding, condescending, or opinionated.
I distinctly remember one evening when a bunch of us cousins were playing catch. It was a hot, summer day. One of my cousin brothers ran into this uncle and accidentally spilled his evening cup of tea. My brown-skinned uncle transformed into a red-faced monster.
He screamed at my cousin, “You will do nothing in your life.” His breathing got heavy. He pointed at the vegetable vendor across the street. “Like him, you will sell vegetables on thelaa for life. Good for nothing bugger!”
There is an Ayurvedic saying, “The seat of consciousness is in the heart.” Recent studies reiterate what Ayurveda has been saying: the heart sends information to our brain about how to process an experience emotionally. I am not sure if the root of this uncle’s anger was shame, sadness, perceived threat, unexpressed emotions, or something else. What I observed even as a little girl was that this uncle had no control over his tongue. His words hit hard – like a tsunami. The intensity of his outbursts was like that of hot, molten lava, no matter who or what triggered him. No one intervened because he would turn into beast mode at the slightest provocation.
What Ayurveda Says About Anger
According to Ayurveda, the mind plays a critical role in our overall health. In Ayurveda, the emotional imbalance caused by anger arises from a lack of proper communication between the head and heart.
Dr. Vasant Lad’s book, “The Complete Book of Ayurvedic Home Remedies,” states that anger is caused when the pitta dosha – or the fire energy – of the body is aggravated.
Dr. Lad writes, “Pitta is necessary for right understanding and judgement, but when it gets disturbed or out of balance, it creates misunderstanding and wrong judgement, leading to anger and hostility.”
Anger and irritability are among the most classic expressions of excess pitta dosha, which is made up of the elements fire and water. Anger possesses the hot, sharp, and light qualities of fire, one of the elements that govern pitta.
Other Reasons for Hostility
The perfect balance of mind, body, and soul is considered complete health in Ayurveda. My uncle’s diet and lifestyle were aggravating pitta. With his evening chai he ate pakodas, even though he often complained of heartburn. There was a sour pickle or chutney on his plate, no matter the season. His mealtimes were erratic. You never heard him express gratitude for the food or the chef. Fried and oily foods were his staple. He didn’t get enough sleep. Professionally, as a lawyer, he was paid to argue and be difficult. Did I mention that he was out in the sun a lot?
One could say that there was excess pitta accumulated in my uncle’s mano vaha srotas (the channel of the mind), which could have caused heat accumulation. This led to irritability, criticism, judgmental behavior, fiery attitude, envy… You get the picture. His erratic moods, constant prickliness, and frequent outbursts were because of excess pitta in the mano vaha srotas.
Mental ama (toxins) and unresolved emotions can lead to disease in very concrete ways. It’s sad, but are you surprised that my uncle eventually died of a heart attack?
12 Ways to Manage Anger
- What you feed yourself—food and words—impact how you think and behave. If your pitta is aggravated, avoid oily, fried, spicy, sour, or acidic foods. Caffeine, alcohol, pickles, peppers, chilies, fermented foods, and citrus fruits aren’t your friends.
- Favor energetically cooling foods and sweet (basmati rice), bitter (green leafy veggies), and astringent tastes (lentils).
- Minimize processed foods, refined sugars, and any stimulants.
- Create a routine and follow it diligently: A pitta mind benefits from routine because it takes the pressure off the mind and the nervous system. Once these two relax, rigidity starts to lessen.
- Eat your meals on time.
- Get sufficient sleep daily.
- Avoid exposure to the sun when it is at its peak.
- Move your body every day.
- Spend time in nature.
- Practice cooling yoga postures and pranayama like Sheetali.
- Don’t exercise with a competitive mindset.
- Self-love and self-reflection can be grounding and stabilizing tools for an angry or pitta mind.
Emotions are a natural part of expression. However, untamed anger can be devastating for your personal and professional life as well as your health if you don’t work on it.
Disclaimer: The content is purely informative and educational in nature, and should not be construed as medical advice. The information is not intended for use in the diagnosis, treatment, cure, or prevention of any disease. Please use the content only in consultation with an appropriate certified medical or healthcare professional. If you are looking for advice from a trained Ayurvedic coach, contact me here.