Learning how to cope with anger. How to cope with anger? I very rarely get angered at someone. Why not?
Step – First and foremost put yourself in someone else’s place. No – that’s not literal. This is a mental exercise. How can that be possible you ask? If you can understand their perspective, their position, the facts they rely on when making the assumption that you have somehow unintentionally wronged them… If you can figure out how to put yourself in their shoes, you simply can’t get mad at someone …no matter how much a fool they make of themselves. You can get so good at analyzing behavior that you will very rarely if ever get mad. If you get mad start the process over again so that next time it will not be for long. Its okay. Life is a long process full of learning. You only get better with it in time. Being slow to anger is a learned skill … possibly a dying art… that I am alone trying to revive? No… of course not. Courts order people to anger management classes all the time. These classes are designed to help folks figure out how to control their anger. What’s in these classes? I have no idea. I was never court ordered to go.
Fundamentally, each person comes into the world with his or her own perspective as his or her upbringing, his or her own history of interactions and reactions with other people, and even more – the very essence of his or her day to day existence is unique. You can get to the point where you unconsciously analyze them for each of these factors. Each person is raised different and has different morals. Each person has different influences in their lives – school / educational facilities by whatever name – teachers, janitors, lunchroom ladies, staff; employment – bosses, co employees, subordinates; home – their parents and their perspective, some relative or person that is raising them’s perspective, and the discipline or lack thereof; church – sunday school teachers, friends, pastors, preachers; clubs – volunteer activities, speakers, social activities, bars, groups by whatever name; and just daily interactions with others at the grocery store, any store; driving – someone with road rage, some grandpa driving along enjoying the breezes…. The list is endless. There are as many different exposures in a persons life as there are people in different walks of life. No two persons are the same with their experiences and exposures. This does not mean its impossible to understand them.
How far did they go in school? What type of jobs have they had? Who have they been working with? Why did they make the choices they made to end them up here? Something happened in their lives to bring them to this point. What is the most logical reason that they are mad at you right now? Is something you did a trigger to cause them to act this way. Analyze. Be honest in your analysis.
Step – Be creative in your analysis. Until you get good at this perhaps you can get over being mad at them by thinking of creative reasons that they are mad. “Their underwear are too tight. (akin to the phrase their panties are in a wad).” —“They have a jerk of a spouse.” “Their spouse probably set them off this am.” —- “They are wearing the color orange and it probably is making them gag but their favorite aunt gave them that shirt. I’d be irritated to.” Of course an age old favorite – “She’s on her period.” “Perhaps they are in pain. The cast they are wearing is tight?” “Perhaps they worked to late the night before.” “Their life is really stressful.” “They are a teenager dealing with hormones.”
Step – If you still can’t figure it out ask them. Often they won’t know. They can’t rationalize. They are mad. They aren’t thinking straight. You may not be able to reason with them at this point. That’s okay. Folks cannot always take personal responsibility for their actions when they can’t see the forest for the trees. You might have to wait on them to calm down. Different people stay mad for different periods of time.
Step- Apologize even if its not your fault. Apologize if its a misunderstanding. Apologize if it’s there fault. Why? Who’s going to remember in five years? Be the bigger person.
Step – As soon as I figure out how or why they are mad I don’t retaliate. I forgive. I forget. I move on. Life has more in it than anger for me. I am not going to waste my time further on a fruitless endeavor of getting someone un-mad at me. This is a process that they have to get over and get through themselves. I say, “I’m sorry. It’s all my fault it if’s little and really doesn’t matter. The only reason my husband and I survived my first year of marriage is that instead of getting mad after the first month of marital un-bliss – his yelling and misunderstanding – I finally started saying, “I’m sorry. It’s all my fault.” After a few days of doing this he then yelled, “It’s not always yourself.” See sometimes you can’t win for loosing. So does it really matter? Let them stay mad until they can figure this out for themselves. He has given up on getting mad at me very often as it is truly an exercise in futility. In fact, and this is really funny…. I got mad at him momentarily a week or so ago and then an hour later I asked him, “Why was I mad at you?” Neither of us could remember. When your reach that point you know this was not all for nothing. We laughed and I thought…. it must be that five year later period that got here quicker than I thought…..
Step – If all that fails what else do I do? I analyze for myself, will this matter in five years? No? Well why is it so important right now? Will it matter in three years? No? What about two? one? What about six months from now? three months? next month? tomorrow? Okay will it matter in an hour? Is there something I’d really like to be doing rather than fighting? My favorite show? shopping? reading a book? blogging? researching something? I don’t know about you…but there’s always something I’d rather be doing. There is really beauty all around when there’s peace at home. There are birds in the backyard. There are squirrels playing with nuts, climbing trees and doing their squirrel thing. There are dogs wanting you to throw a ball with them. There are children that want to be pushed in a swing. There is a walk in a park that is begging for you to take. There might be (sigh) dishes that need done, homework that needs done, stuff you brought home from work to do. If nothing else cook something good. Why fight? Is it to enjoy the peace and quiet when it finally arrives? Analyze.
Step – If you can’t forgive and forget at this point, go to a counselor…. write a letter and throw it away…run….exercise…get a punching bag…. Whatever you do don’t retaliate. Don’t lower yourself to their level. Don’t curse back. Do defend yourself if they are hurting you of course. Do not be a punching bag. Do call the police if necessary. If you can walk away, walk. It’s easy. Put one foot in front of the other. Walk the other way. Keep walking. Get in a car and drive. Distance can put perspective on the fight.
Step – Yell at the top of your lungs…. curse…. call names… act a fool… Okay. Do you feel better now or do you feel kinda stupid or childish….Did you make the matter worse or better? Did they just yell back because you were yelling. Did you hurt their feelings and did that make you feel better? Did you make yourself feel better? Did you have a stroke? Are you now in the hospital because you got so mad you see purple or red or black? Well, okay, you guessed it. This is not a step I recommend but if you have such loose control over yourself that you have to engage in yelling, go for it but after you have yelled once and gotten it out of your system and they are still yelling, analyze. Did this do any good? Nope, probably not. So go on to another step. Repeat a step. It doesn’t matter. Just work with whatever step or steps that makes it easier for you to handle this situation.
Step – As you know, but perhaps never considered, how did they get where they are? Why am I fortunate to not be there? Am I jealous of them in their position? Do I have underlying emotions involved in this matter. Analyze.
Below here are some links to many similar quotes.
Somewhere in word press there is an awesome Budda quote which I will repeat here as I have no idea how to find it again, but the quote was:
Holding onto anger is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die. Budda.
Make understanding such an integral part of your behavior that after the analysis takes over you forgive and truly forget.
As a side note, in the past my husband would get really mad at me because I could not later remember why he was mad or even that he was until I saw his face with his lips pouting. Then I would have to ask, “Why are you mad at me again?” He used to get mad because I couldn’t remember why he was mad. Then he would be mad at me even longer. I mean he would go without speaking to me for days and weeks. Now he realizes that I truly have forgiven and forgotten or he realizes I am not going to indulge his anger. I prefer the former as a rationale. The beauty of rationalization is you can pick whatever you want as a justification for their anger and then not be mad at them and you don’t have to be right. You only have to convince yourself that is an acceptable excuse for that behavior. I am telling how I cope and how with practice you can cope easily as well.
Fundamentally, each person comes into the world with his or her own perspective as upbringing, his own history of interactions and reactions with other people, the very essence of his or her day to day existence. If you practice you will be able to unconsciously analyze them for this. Each person is raised different and has different morals. As you know, but perhaps never considered, EVERY PERSON IN PRISON USED TO BE SOMEONE’S CHILD. How did they get there? Why am I fortunate to not be there? Why did they make the choices they made to end them up there? Are their parents in prison with them? Often not. Something happened in their lives to make them take a wrong step, a wrong choice. Influences. Analyze. Rationalize. Justify. Do whatever it takes —-but get understanding because with understanding comes wisdom. With wisdom get patience. With patience comes understanding and it goes around full circle.
Below here are some links to many similar quotes.
Resentment is like taking poison and waiting for the other person to die. Alex Witchel 1998 How a Rogue turns himself into a saint.
- “In fact, not forgiving is like drinking rat poison and then waiting for the rat to die.” Anne Lamott, Traveling Mercies: Some Thoughts on Faith(1999)
- Hanging on to a resentment, someone once said, is like drinking poison and hoping it will kill someone else. Alice May, Surviving Betrayal (1999)
- Resentment is like taking poison and waiting for the other person to die. Malachy McCourt (1998)
- “Charles had once remarked that holding onto a resentment was like eating rat poison and waiting for the rat to die.” Anne Lamotte,Crooked Little Heart (1997)
- “I think resentment is when you take the poison and wait for the other person to die.” M.T. A Sponsorship Guide for 12-Step Programs(1995)
- When we hang on to resentments, we poison ourselves. As compulsive overeaters, we cannot afford resentment, since it exacerbates our disease. Elizabeth L. Food for Thought: Daily Meditations for Overeaters (1992)
And this vague suspicion of an AA origin for the quote remained with me for a long time until Joakim (see the comments below) helped me out with a reference, telling me that the quote was to be found in a 1930’s book calledThe Sermon on the Mount, by Emmet Fox. That didn’t seem to be quite the case. The exact quote isn’t there, but there is a passage that is an obvious prototype.
Mitch Albom > Quotes > Quotable Quote
“Holding anger is a poison…It eats you from inside…We think that by hating someone we hurt them…But hatred is a curved blade…and the harm we do to others…we also do to ourselves.”
Anger is an acid that can do more harm to the vessel in which it is stored than to anything on which it is poured.
If a small thing has the power to make you angry, does that not indicate something about your size? ~Sydney J. Harris There is nothing more galling to angry people than the coolness of those on whom they wish to vent their spleen. ~Alexandre Dumas Life is too short to hold a grudge, also too long. ~Robert Brault, rbrault.blogspot.com He who angers you conquers you. ~Elizabeth Kenny For every minute you are angry, you lose sixty seconds of happiness. ~Author Unknown Anger is one letter short of danger. ~Author Unknown Anger ventilated often hurries toward forgiveness; and concealed often hardens into revenge. ~Edward G. Bulwer-Lytton People who fly into a rage always make a bad landing. ~Will Rogers Never write a letter while you are angry. ~Chinese Proverb Get mad, then get over it. ~Colin Powell The world needs anger. The world often continues to allow evil because it isn’t angry enough. ~Bede Jarrett Never go to bed mad. Stay up and fight. ~Phyllis Diller, Phyllis Diller’s Housekeeping Hints, 1966 Where there is anger, there is always pain underneath. ~Eckhart Tolle Anger is an acid that can do more harm to the vessel in which it is stored than to anything on which it is poured. ~Baptist Beacon Under certain circumstances, urgent circumstances, desperate circumstances, profanity provides a relief denied even to prayer. ~Mark Twain, a Biography Resentment is like taking poison and waiting for the other person to die. ~Malachy McCourt Take no revenge that you have not pondered beneath a starry sky, or on a canyon overlook, or to the lapping of waves and the mewing of a distant gull. ~Robert Brault, rbrault.blogspot.com If you kick a stone in anger, you’ll hurt your own foot. ~Korean Proverb Anger as soon as fed is dead— ‘Tis starving makes it fat— ~Emily Dickinson, from “Cupid’s Sermon,” 1881 Not the fastest horse can catch a word spoken in anger. ~Chinese Proverb Anger dwells only in the bosom of fools. ~Albert Einstein No man can think clearly when his fists are clenched. ~George Jean Nathan Anger is short-lived madness. ~Horace Anger and jealousy can no more bear to lose sight of their objects than love. ~George Eliot Before you give someone a piece of your mind, make sure you can get by with what is left. ~Author Unknown
If you’re angry at a loved one, hug that person. And mean it. You may not want to hug — which is all the more reason to do so. It’s hard to stay angry when someone shows they love you, and that’s precisely what happens when we hug each other. ~Walter Anderson, The Confidence Course, 1997 When I get mad, I stop being mad and be awesome instead. ~Author Unknown Do not teach your children never to be angry; teach them how to be angry. ~Lyman Abbott Anger blows out the lamp of the mind. ~Robert G. Ingersoll Get angry, get furious but never crumble to resentment. ~Dodinsky,www.dodinsky.com Sometimes when I’m angry I have the right to be angry, but that doesn’t give me the right to be cruel. ~Author Unknown Spite is never lonely; envy always tags along. ~Mignon McLaughlin, The Neurotic’s Notebook, 1960 Always write angry letters to your enemies. Never mail them. ~James Fallows At the core of all anger is a need that is not being fulfilled. ~Marshall B. Rosenberg Anger and folly walk cheek by jole. ~Benjamin Franklin Temper tantrums, however fun they may be to throw, rarely solve whatever problem is causing them. ~Lemony Snicket If you are patient in a moment of anger, you will escape one hundred days of sorrow. ~Chinese Proverb You will not be punished for your anger, you will be punished by your anger. ~Buddha If you get upset when the toast burns, what are you going to do when your house burns down? ~Author Unknown I don’t have to attend every argument I’m invited to. ~Author Unknown Holding on to anger is like grasping a hot coal with the intent of throwing it at someone else; you are the one who gets burned. ~Buddha Malice drinks one-half of its own poison. ~Seneca Can anger survive without his hypocrisy? ~Terri Guillemets Anger is a killing thing: it kills the man who angers, for each rage leaves him less than he had been before — it takes something from him. ~Louis L’Armour Never strike your wife — even with a flower. ~Hindu Proverb Speak when you are angry and you will make the best speech you will ever regret. ~Ambrose Bierce Changing from ‘kind regards’ to just ‘regards’, to indicate that you’re rapidly reaching the end of your tether. ~Rob Temple, @SoVeryBritish (Very British Problems: Making Life Awkward for Ourselves, One Rainy Day at a Time, 2013) When angry, count four; when very angry, swear. ~Mark Twain, Pudd’nhead Wilson’s Calendar Anger is a bad counselor. ~French Proverb Resentment is an extremely bitter diet, and eventually poisonous. I have no desire to make my own toxins. ~Neil Kinnock
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The worst-tempered people I’ve ever met were people who knew they were wrong. ~Wilson Mizner To carry a grudge is like being stung to death by one bee. ~William H. Walton Two things a man should never be angry at: What he can help, and what he cannot help. ~Thomas Fuller The best remedy for a short temper is a long walk. ~Jacqueline Schiff Next time you’re mad, try dancing out your anger. ~Terri Guillemets When a man sends you an impudent letter, sit right down and give it back to him with interest ten times compounded, and then throw both letters in the wastebasket. ~Elbert Hubbard Consider how much more you often suffer from your anger and grief, than from those very things for which you are angry and grieved. ~Marcus Antonius