Follow Mint Lounge

Latest Issue

Home > Health> Wellness > How to deal with the many shades of anger

How to deal with the many shades of anger

There is good anger, and then there is silent rage as exemplified by the Netflix show ‘Beef’ that can derail you. Talk your fury out, suggest experts

A still from the Netflix series, Beef, which had its leading characters Amy and Danny spiral down in rage-filled animosity.
A still from the Netflix series, Beef, which had its leading characters Amy and Danny spiral down in rage-filled animosity. (Netflix)

When Netflix’s limited series Beef raked in three Golden Globes and eight Emmys including those for its lead actors Ali Wong as Amy and Steven Yeun as Danny, some people may have hissed in anger, “They had to project just one emotion throughout the 10 episodes – rage. And they get awards for that? Grrr…” But rage has many levels. Danny, the Korean construction worker and Amy, the successful but unhappy business woman, deftly portrayed different shades of rage like blind anger, irreverence, hatred, desperation, dejection and more, starting with an avoidable road rage incident. 

Also read: Living and leading with emotional intelligence

For the young and angry, Beef should caution that a single incident can snowball into a pile-up of destructive emotions. Shilpa Nagaraj, therapist and clinical psychologist based in Bengaluru says, “Every emotion has a function. They help us stay afloat. Anger is one such functional emotion, and is not always a negative one. It causes many physiological changes that signal our body to take action,” she says. The expression of anger or aggressive behaviour, Nagaraj notes, is how the body releases this aggression. 

“This expression is just the visible tip of the iceberg, and below that are several reasons for this anger. When this anger is not helping us in any way, however justified, or if we are at the receiving end, it is time to talk to someone about it,” she says. 

Angry Masculinity 
Is anger more prevalent among the male of our species? Nikhil Taneja, who along with Amritpal Bindra and Anand Tiwari founded Yuvaa, a gen-z media and impact organisation, has travelled to over 150 campuses and met more than 15,000 students in over 35 Indian cities as part of the Yuvaa Roadshow. “Whenever I interacted with young men, one of the things I’d hear repeatedly from them was about how they are afraid of their fathers, with one student even saying something as specific as Father = Anger!”

Taneja, host of the chat show, Be a Man, Yaar, wants to talk to both fathers and sons about anger in season 2. He would like to understand how anger has taken the shape of generational trauma that somehow still keeps getting passed down. In season 1, Taneja got celebrities like Karan Johar, Vicky Kaushal, Zakir Khan, Nakuul Mehta, Naseeruddin Shah to open up about positive masculinity. Says Taneja, “Being a man is often seen through the lens of stereotypes of masculinity, like being ‘super strong’, ‘macho’, ‘stoic’, ‘inexpressive emotionally’ or ‘angry’ and ‘aggressive’. But through the empathetic conversations on the show, we want to say that it is okay to be any kind of a man, yaar. That being kind, wholesome, empathetic, sensitive, emotional and thoughtful are masculine too!”

Smash the Rage
Does hitting out help at all? In Bengaluru’s Rage Room, a young couple kitted out in overalls, boots, gloves and protective visors, are smashing bottles with steel rods. “This is one way to beat stress,” says 24-year-old Ananya Shetty, founder of the city’s first anger room. 

Also read: How pain-based weather forecasts could influence behaviour

“The inspiration for Rage Room started from my own experiences – those instances when frustration bubbled up within me, demanding release – a scream, a shatter, a way to make the intangible tangible,” reveals this IIT Madras alumnus. At Rage Room, one can book various packages depending on the number of balloons, bottles or even television sets one wants to break! However, she points out that smashing things can only provide physical relief, while a broader network of services is needed to address mental health issues like anger. 

To complement this stress-busting venture, Shetty co-founded Vexa with Pranav Nadimpalli, her senior at IIT Madras, with a goal to make mental health services more accessible, affordable and the right fit for each individual. “Vexa has a broad reach with generative AI tech, and will bring together the disorganised industry of therapists, counsellors and coaches in India. We aim to be the co-pilot for every mental health professional, enabling individuals to ‘buy/shop’ mental health with a structured approach,” says Shetty who is busy establishing Rage Room’s second outlet in Mumbai, the land of the stereotypical ‘angry young man’. 

Is the ‘angry young man’ a bad role model for young people? As a writer, director and producer at Yash Raj Films, Taneja has had a ringside view of the film industry. He says that having heard the perspectives of the iconic writers Salim-Javed who created the angry young man ( the character Vijay, played by Amitabh Bachchan), their intent didn’t seem to be to glorify anger but to create a character that represents the struggles and systemic issues of the times. “As filmmakers, we need to hold ourselves accountable to the characters we create: it’s completely okay for characters to be angry, but if that anger has a funky, rock and roll background music, then it is only glorifying it,” he adds.

What do law-abiding citizens do when they are angry? Most of them get deeper into work, push themselves harder at the gym, or binge-watch TV shows. “But the right way to deal with it is to talk about it. I’ve had my angry teenage phase as well, and it’s only after taking therapy in my thirties that I understood my triggers and patterns of anger, and was able to work on them,” says Taneja.

To feel anger is okay. But aggressive behaviour is not. Seeking help is not enough in itself. One has to be willing to want to change. The people around the affected individual have to be willing to help too. And professional help is not always affordable. “But many organisations offer free counselling, or have sliding scales for people with different paying capacities,” reassures Nagaraj. Ultimately, no matter the issue, there is merit in examining anger and understanding what to do to manage it at the moment. 

Mala Kumar is a Bengaluru-based editor and writer .  

Also read: Understanding the complexities of PTSD in daily life


Next Story