Anger is devastating and what we have built over years is destroyed in a fraction of a second. Anger kills relationships, shatters souls, and uproots homes. There are ways to control anger taught to us by great stoics; we need to follow them to subdue our anger before it gets out of control. The stoics say that we need to overcome anger in its initial stages; the initial signs are: facial expressions change, tone of voice alters, body language changes—and our minds indulge in nasty thoughts. The stoics also focus on cognitive distancing to distract our thoughts to regain composure.

“They believed that anger is a form of desire: “a desire for revenge on one who seems to have done an injustice inappropriately,” according to Diogenes Laertius. Speaking less formally, we might say that anger typically consists in the desire to harm someone because we think they’ve done wrong and deserve to be punished. (Occasionally it might be more of a desire for someone else to harm them, as in, “I hope someone teaches her a lesson!”) This is not unlike modern cognitive theories of anger, which typically define it as based upon the belief that a rule that is personally important to you has somehow been violated.”


  • Observe signs of anger.
  • Do not act, just distract your thoughts.
  • Leave the place and take deep breaths.
  • Reflect on how great personalities subdued their ego.
  • Observe the consequences of anger.


The first thing to control anger is to know that you are getting angry. There are signs that you need to focus on when you are getting angry: your voice changes; you think negatively; your facial expression changes; you act swiftly; you are about to say something rude and offensive, and you may criticize the person bringing past problems into the moment. Once you feel that there is something wrong, and I am losing your mind, it gets easier to control yourself.

Antoninus’s gentle disposition and “how he put up with those who found fault with him unfairly, finding no fault with them in return

Cognitive distancing:

Cognitive distancing is beneficial in fighting bad habits, unhealthy desires, and ferocious anger. The benefit of cognitive distancing is it helps you focus on other things and gives you a clear picture that there is nothing to angry about, it is your negative thoughts that provoke anger; it is your judgments about things that make you angry. When you focus on the bright side of things, your anger is subdued. It is better to see the positive as well as the negative of an act, and anger hardly benefits people; it always destroys them.

“Remind yourself that the events themselves don’t make you angry, but rather your judgments about them cause the passion. (“I notice that I am telling myself ‘How dare she say that,’ and it’s that way of looking at things that’s causing me to feel angry.”)”


When you are getting aware that you are getting angry, do not react, and just postpone your decisions about the situation to a later time. You should leave the place when you are furious; go for a walk, take deep breaths, and do what is helpful to calm your feelings of anger. Once you are cool and your thoughts are processed, you can come back and deliver your words. A decision made in anger is not fruitful, great leaders lost wars and got trapped due to their fiery anger, and their enemies exploited them on their weakness: anger. Relationships built over years are destroyed due to harsh and cruel words unintentionally said due to suppressed emotions built owing to work or other problems, and all the frustrations are taken out on the person dear to you which leads to separation. Silence is the best answer sometimes when you are not in the mood to talk, just do not talk. When you feel the other person is not in the mood to talk, just do not bother him/her. We all need space sometimes, and we need to subdue our anger.

“Dealing with feelings of anger by cultivating greater empathy and understanding toward others is one of the major recurring themes of The Meditations.”

Modeling virtue:

You need to think about great personalities who were stuck in the situation you are in now; you need to understand how they controlled their anger. We learn from the past, philosophers who taught us valuable lessons. Reflecting on their lives, we can learn to subdue our anger.

“People who suffer from fatigue and chronic pain, as Marcus did, can often be prone to irritability and anger.”

Functional analysis:

You need to know what would happen afterward when you lose your temper. Once you have a clear picture of the potential consequences of your angry emotions, you would not react and would try to subdue your anger to escape the aftermath of troubles. You should think: what would happen if I get angry, and what would happen if I stay quiet?

“Marcus also describes a whole repertoire of Stoic cognitive techniques, which focus on addressing the underlying beliefs that cause our anger in the first place.”


Anger is scary, and it can cause much damage. There are ways to control anger: observing early signs; leaving the place; going for a walk; reflecting on the consequences of anger; studying great personalities who controlled their anger.


  1. Robertson, D. (2019). How to think like a Roman emperor: The stoic philosophy of Marcus Aurelius. St. Martin’s Press.

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