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The Asset of Anger
Anger is a secondary emotion. To get angry, typically, you have been hurt, frustrated or frightened first. When you realize you are angry, think back to your choice to get angry… which were you: hurt, frightened, or frustrated?
Was it your ego that was hurt? There is a big difference between being hurt physically compared to offending your ego, which may be fragile.
Once you determine the base cause, you have a choice to change how you think and feel about the situation. Thoughts and feelings are not the real you. They are not facts. Yet, all too often, they are the basis for your choices, usually based on patterns built and used over time — that may or may not work for you anymore.
When you feel yourself getting angry next time, critically assess your position and all likely outcomes before choosing what to do next. The five questions to ask yourself are:
- Is this a fight worth fighting? What other options do I have, such as thanking them for their opinion and moving on?
- Do I have enough information, history, etc.? Maybe I don’t understand where the nay-saying is coming from. It often is the other person’s personal fears being expressed as if they were your fears.
- Does this involve me personally or am I fighting someone else’s battle?
- What are the possible outcomes? Could I be fired, demoted, lose pay, or lose a friend?
- Am I hurt, frightened or frustrated? Can I stay dispassionately involved? Is this my ego wanting to fight?
If you feel you have to move forward and address what may become a conflict, then first determine the volatility of the participants and the situation. Personal safety is number one; request professional help when necessary. Once personal safety is assured, and you have answered the above questions, explore these seven possible causes of the critics, bullies and nay-saying:
- Diverse needs, wants and desires
- Different personality styles
- Conflicting perceptions or expectations of the situation
- Dissimilar goals
- Outside pressures or competing spheres of influence
- Differing personal values or views of fairness and power
- Unpredictable policies from leadership or management
While it is important to consider what the root of the nay-saying / conflict may be, it is surprisingly easy to get caught up in the back-story and get even more riled up. Work to remain a neutral observer, even though you are part of the actual problem. If time permits, gather specific, verifiable data and information. Keep your emotions, labels and stereotypes out of it.
From the neutral observer position, step back into the present and look at the situation. With curiosity, look back at yourself, over there, and ask if the events that led you to become hurt, frustrated, and/or frightened were true. If they are true, really true, thank yourself for paying attention. If they are not true, apologize, make amends, step out of the situation, give yourself and the other(s) grace… whatever needs to be done to correct the misunderstanding.
Or stay angry if you must and set an intention to resolve the situation. We often hold back making changes, or truth telling for fear of “hurting” another person when the worst that might happen is that their ego is offended.
Be willing to be offended and speak your truth, knowing that we cannot truly hurt another unless you intend to — and perhaps the other party intends to… either way, if they are true or they are not true, apply liberal doses of appreciation for the chance to open your eyes to something new.