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Anger the vampire

Anger, like a ravenous vampire, sinks its teeth into my jugular. It is so sudden, I didn’t even see it coming.

Vitriol bubbles up. “I knew I shouldn’t have listened to you. You are scum, a worm,” I mutter. The “it’s-all-your-fault tapes” of past transgressions play in full volume in my head. “You always ...” Yes, it is always someone else’s fault.

“Why are you so angry?” my husband asks, trying to understand, to help make it better. I’m not having any of it. I stiffen and emanate silent loathsome vibes. I hate myself. I hate him for being so reasonable, so caring.

Yes, indeed, why am I so angry? It seems I’m angry all the time. It has been particularly bad since the last election. But it is not just the daily news that makes my throat tighten and causes pain to grip my head. I have cause to be angry.

Strangers walk up to me and order me to go home. Immigration officers hold me up for hours. White privilege does not belong to me. Is it feeling let down that makes Anger-the-Vampire clamp my psyche every time someone looks at me the wrong way?

I vented to a friend that I so badly wanted to regain my life and be happy. “How do I free myself of this venomous feeling?” I asked.

“You control your thoughts. Journal your question and see what spills out on the paper,” she said. I did just that.

I hate being angry all the time and I am smart enough to know that the only person my anger hurts is me. “So how do I delete those poisonous tapes that play over and over and over,” I wrote.

Oh, please, answer me, talk to me. I am so ready to listen. And so I kept writing, jotting every single thought that crossed my mind, including gibberish. I let my stream of consciousness pour out. I didn’t edit or judge, I just wrote. I don’t know when my brain quit dictating. When thoughts failed to appear, my hand kept writing, as though moved by some outside force. When my fingers began to cramp and hurt, I stopped and read what I wrote.

Every time you feel the anger rise, breathe, slow down. Stop.

Now force yourself to think of three things that made you happy or smile today. Was it the bird that woke you up? Was it the smell of coffee brewing?

As I was reading, my eye caught sight of a tiny baby spider swinging on the end of a silken thread. It then started to climb up it. It was as though I had never seen a spider at work, securing a home for itself. My heart swelled with delight watching creation happen.

I reread, “Now force yourself to think of three things that made you happy or smile today.” What else cheered me up? Ah, yes, it was the decaf mocha frappucino with whipped cream and nutmeg. How refreshingly sinful that was. A live stream of happy thoughts flooded my being. I remembered the little girl in the stroller who waved and said “hiya”, and how beautiful the Rogue Valley is this time of the year. These thoughts provoked enough heartfelt gratitude to make anger uncomfortable enough to slink away, just as vampires do from the smell of garlic.

My goodness, it really works. The next time I felt the familiar constricting of my throat and the beginnings of pain in my head, I knew anger was sneaking up on me. I breathed a big breath. I slowed down to a stop and asked myself, “What are three things that made you happy today?”

I drew a blank.

I went back to the baby spider. Somehow that opened the gate. I remembered the compliment some passerby gave me on my hat, and the phone call I received from a friend I hadn’t heard from in a while. A live stream of happy thoughts gushed in, chasing Anger the Vampire away. What a gift to have my peace of mind back. I wish the same for you.

Asifa Kanji was born in Tanzania, educated in England and came to the U.S. 44 years ago. She is an author, teacher and returned Peace Corps volunteer. Her new book “Pilgrims with Credit Cards” will be coming out early next year. Send 600- to 700-word articles on aspects of inner peace to Sally McKirgan at innerpeaceforyou@outlook.com.