How to Relieve Frustration and Anger



I work in a large bureaucracy with a nasty supervisor who tortures and harasseds me everyday. Many times I was so distressed I wanted to go to an empty office and say "F... you, go to hell", in order to releive the resentment and suffering of my soul. Is it OK to do this? Usually I just swallow it and I feel miserable and bitter that why I have to take this. I'm stuck with this job because there is no job out there to be found.

—Jeri, USA


Dear Jeri,

It would be far better to go to an empty office and shout than to shout at your supervisor!

I’m not sure it would do much lasting good for you – but it isn’t going to do you any lasting harm either – unless you were to make a habit of it.

Relieving pent up frustration and anger is not an easy thing to do. It is perhaps one of the most difficult challenges faced by everyone.

But I think sincere spiritual seekers have the best chance of doing it successfully because we have tools that most people don’t.

The most important tool is meditation. After you have grown calm in your mediation try visualizing a fire and then mentally place all your cares, frustrations, worries into the fire – as if they were individual sticks of wood – and visualize that the Divine fire is burning them up.

This will often result in a feeling of relief, as if one has put down a burden or relaxed emotionally. Such renewing calmness makes it much more possible to meet difficulties, and difficult people, without reacting as strongly as before.

Another important tool is introspection. At the end of the day, or before your day starts, it is a good time to take a look at what you have been experiencing – and most importantly – how you have been reacting to your experiences.

Introspection will often reveal to us how our own needs and expectations “set us up” for getting frustrated or angry. Saints are imperturbable because they have no expectations. Saints have no desires to be thwarted.

Most of us are a ways from such perfect equinimity, but the process of introspection helps us recognize our attachments and gently let them go over time.

Prayer can be a very effective way of dealing with frustration and anger. This may seem counter-intuitive but if you pray for your supervisor you may find that you experience a deep shift in your feelings.

A friend of mine uses this method and said that at first he prays for whomever he is angry with – but doesn’t really mean it. But he persists until he really means it, until he really wants the highest and the best for the person. When he reaches that point his own feelings of anger melt away.

Talking with wise friends can be a big help as well. They can help you put your difficulties in a manageable perspective.

Don’t discuss you difficulties with friends who only agree with you, who add their own war stories, and who affirm that you have grievences. Wise friends will gently and lovingly turn the discussion to what you can do within yourself to change – not focus inflexibly on the problem itself.

My last suggestion, should you find that none of my previous suggestions are working – or the issues you are dealing with are just too intense to make headway against – is to leave the job.

Living frustrated and angry is no way to live. Your joy in life will be diminshed and your health will eventually be affected. Trust the Divine providence. There is another better opportunity for you if you can’t make this one work.

Warm regards,
Joseph (Puru) Selbie