A Practice for Working with Anger

This is based on the Buddhist practice of Metta. Metta is usually translated as loving-kindness, but may mean simply feelings of friendliness, or gentleness. There are many formal practices and extensive discussions about metta. If this simplified version appeals to you, those might be worth exploring. 

When anger arises, direct kind thoughts and feelings toward yourself. Some phrases often used for inspiration are:

  • May I be at peace
  • May I be happy
  • May I be protected and safe

You can use soothing words such as you might say to a young child. “There, there. Everything is alright.” 

The point is to evoke genuine feelings of kindness toward yourself. If only the slightest feeling of metta arises, that is good. Focus on that. Cultivate it. It will grow. 

That’s it. The practice does not require any overlay of psychological analysis, or expectation of external outcomes. 

It might be helpful to make a firm commitment to always strive to respond to your own anger this way. Realize that whatever injustice or harm is at hand, you have this potential to avoid injuring yourself and adding fuel to the flames of a situation. Practicing a little during quiet times, before anger arises, is also very helpful.