Anger and Its Aftermath

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Are you angry right now? If not, when was the last time you felt angry? How did you get angry? My guess is something happened to which you take exception. Someone or something – God, nature, someone you know, a stranger – did something which made you angry. If you can set aside your anger for a moment and think about it rather than indulging it, you will begin to realize that it is not the result of what happened or who did it. It is the result of what you tell yourself about what happened.

If someone bumps into you, listen to what happens in your mind. You may tell yourself that the person is clumsy, stupid or trying to upset you. Your anger arises when you tell yourself that the person should not have done something and that you have a right to be angry about it. So far there is an incident and what you tell yourself about it. If you tell yourself you have been wronged, you are likely to feel angry as a result.

Sometimes you have been wronged deliberately and you have a good reason to be angry. Sometimes you experience an inconvenience or worse which was not intended to harm you. In this case, you are less likely to feel anger. If you find yourself feeling angry, the next question is what to do about it. You have some choices.

You might try to discover whether you were harmed on purpose. If not, you can forgive the person who harmed you accidentally. If you decide you were harmed on purpose, you have other choices. These range from trying to ignore it to reacting in anger and seeking revenge for what was done to you.

How you react also depends on how you tend to think of others. You might see people as generally well intentioned and as a result do not make much of a fuss. You might also have had life experiences which incline you to view others as hostile making you more likely to feel angry and seek a way to even the score.

You have quite a range of choices of how to respond to anger. At the mild end, you can tell the other person you did not like what he or she did. At the other extreme, you can pull out a gun and shoot the other person. There is obviously a wide range of consequences for you and for the other person depending on how you respond. Yet many people do not stop to think about how to react to their anger or about the consequences of how they respond. Indulging angry impulses can have disastrous consequences for you as well as for the target of your anger.

Some people don’t find a good way to handle their anger and instead pile one grudge upon another until the load becomes too much to bear. Then they explode in anger in a way far more severe that the immediate incident requires. Again, dire consequences await all concerned. You can avoid this by being aware of your angry feelings and how they arose, examining your options and choosing an appropriate response.

Action Steps   

 Try to understand your anger before acting on it.

  • Write about your anger to clarify how you feel and what you can do.
  • Make sure someone is at fault instead of harming you accidentally.
  • Discuss the matter with the other person instead of reacting impulsively.
  • Look for common ground whenever possible.

 

For more on anger, see my Amazon book, How to Transform Your Anger and Find Peace.

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Listen to Your Enemies

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If you hear them out, if you’re brave enough to really listen to their story, you can see that more often than not you might’ve made some of the same choices if you’d lived their life instead of yours.

~Amaryllis Fox~

When I was in fourth grade, I moved to a new school in Greece, New York. I never thought much about religious differences before that but quickly learned that Barnard School across the street from St. Charles School was a “Protestant school.” Eventually I learned that they taught not just Protestant students but a great variety of students with many backgrounds. Although I never heard it mentioned in the classroom, somehow it became common knowledge among us that its students were inferior to us Catholics. We would visit their playground only when their school was not in session. We also believed that Black people were inferior to us. There was little opportunity to test this belief since there were no Black students in our school, at Barnard School or anywhere in Greece as far as I knew.

After grammar school, I spent nine years in a Catholic seminary and monastery. Here I also had no experience with anyone of a different religion or race. There was also a complete lack of anyone of the female gender.

After leaving the seminary, I found myself at the University of Buffalo where I discovered a wonderful variety of people from all religions, races, ethnic backgrounds and sat next to a girl in my first university class. My college years gave me a chance to meet the world and its representative inhabitants.

One of my first dates was with a girl whose last name was Luther. I speculated that she might be Protestant but her beauty, charm and kindness left me with no concern at all about her religious background.

Now, many years later, I find myself in a country made great by its immigrants to whom we owe its survival and prosperity. Yet now many of us feel threatened by migrants who come to this country for the same reasons our ancestors did. I also feel surrounded by people who hate others with varying political beliefs, religions, race and sexual identity.

In trying to make sense of this state of affairs, I came to realize that the hatred I see is usually motivated by fear of others who seem different. They are seen as taking jobs or other benefits people want for themselves. Yet poor immigrants, no matter what their background, come here for a chance of survival for themselves and their families just as most of our ancestors did.

The same hatred extends to people with different ways of life. Why we should hate people who differ from us remains a mystery to me. Maybe some people feel they would be more comfortable if everyone around them was just like them. Yet progress never seems to arise from everyone thinking the same way. Different ideas create a challenge for all of us to find better ways to live. Yet we will never find out what others think or how they can contribute to our lives by fearing, hating and avoiding them. Maybe we need to put aside our fiercely held prejudices and learn to listen to others we have come to see as enemies. Maybe they want the same things we do and might have some good ideas about attaining them.

Action Steps 

  • Learn to understand your fear of others and of the unknown.
  • Read about others’ way of life.
  • Take the opportunity to listen to others’ life experiences.
  • Do this especially with those different from you.
  • Look for what you have in common.