The other day, I took a wrong turn while driving in a parking lot. I immediately realized my mistake, but before I could wave “sorry” to the driver next to me, she was beeping and cursing me out furiously. If this had happened in the grocery store with a shopping cart instead of a car, I hardly think most people would unload that kind of anger. It would be quite shocking and scary if they did.
When I saw the look of rage on this woman’s face as she drove by me, it was still shocking even though I couldn’t hear her. I just wanted to say sorry, but she didn’t give me the chance. Then I felt angry at her impatience. And then I thought about it. I’m sure I’ve done the same thing to other people myself. *shame* In fact, I was doing it immediately to her. Maybe she was having a bad day.
The bottom line is this. Anger helps no one. For yourself, when you are angry it is the equivalent to drinking poison. For the person receiving your anger, it only creates either anger or sadness in the other person, and probably doesn’t get you the result you really want, which is what? What are we looking for when we are angry?
The Goal of Anger
When we are angry our first reaction is we want to strike back and deliver equal “hurt” to the person who hurt us. The problem is this doesn’t bring us peace. Even if you could squish the person who “hurt” you like a bug, it still would leave you with anger in your heart. If we look deeper, what we really want, what our heart wants is acknowledgment of our pain, an apology, and a promise of the hurt not happening again in the future.
Sometimes it is possible to get one or all three of those things. We must do something first in order to get it. We must soften our hearts and show that to the person who hurt us. That means letting down our guard to expose our pain instead of covering it up with anger. “I feel hurt by X. I wish for Y instead.”
Sometimes we can’t get any of those things from the person or thing or group that hurt us. Sometimes we have to do the healing work ourselves. In that case, we must find compassion and some level of understanding for the other person. Try these questions.
- Why did they do that?
- How can I avoid this in the future?
- How can I can I avoid feeling this way when this happens again (if this is inevitable)?
Freeing Yourself from Anger
Obviously, there are all kinds of “hurts”: big “hurts” (betrayal of a friend or partner), little “hurts” (being cut off in a parking lot), and other “hurts” (your sports team or political candidate lost). It might not be possible to always curb your anger, but it is possible to minimize the amount of time you engage in it. Here are some tips on how to do that.
- Give the benefit of the doubt to others.
- Before you react to small slights, ask yourself “Was this really a big hurt and worth getting upset over?”
- Seek to understand why something happened.
- Ask yourself “How can this be turned into a positive experience? What have I learned?”
- Take a walk to cool down before discussing.
- Get perspective. On chronic anger-triggers, ask “Is this something I can live with if I change my view of it?” – If not, take action to move away from anger-triggers that are unacceptable to you.
- Ask yourself “What is my role in this? What can I do to make things better?”
- Have a general attitude of patience and generosity towards others, so that if, for example, someone steals your place in line, you have already given it to them.
- Plan to arrive early always. When you are not in a rush, you can be more patient with how other people drive.
- Choose to be amused at annoyances, rather than angry. Smile more. Fake it til it becomes a habit. (It works!)
- Be kind to others.
- Be kinder to yourself.
- Meditate daily. (It’s easier than you think)
- Take breaks to give you the energy to be patient.
- Be aware of your reactions. Awareness is the key to unlocking the door of change!
If you work on these daily, you will find yourself more often reacting with compassion instead of anger. This will vastly improve your life. You’ll probably live longer and happier. And you will be elevating the overall level of peace and happiness in the world! Your actions are that powerful!
I’d love to hear what you have to say about this!
Please share your thoughts in the comments below!
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