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Dealing with Anger; The Larger Picture

For an under 2 minute audio version click here  

Anger is difficult to control because when it appears, it largely incapacitates the very faculty needed to contain it ie a person’s objective thinking.  If one can manage to give the offending matter due deliberation, however, how does one control anger when one’s original response remains the same?

If the infraction is between people who are in an important relationship, the offended party would be wise to put the incident in proper perspective by viewing it as part of a bigger picture. 

In our daily lives, so much anger and anguish can be prevented if we adopt a broader outlook.

After completing the first step (described in my previous post) and ascertaining that indeed an action that logically warrants anger has transpired, it’s time to ask yourself the next question: “In one week, two weeks, from now, if I think back to this indiscretion, will I still be bothered?  Will I still consider it consequential?”  It is safe to say that for the vast majority of irritating moments, the answer will be no.  What looks like a mountain now is almost certain to appear as a molehill when viewed through the rearview mirror.

And if you determine that the infraction is such that you will still be bothered about it in two weeks, then you must probe a bit deeper and ask yourself whether it merits endangering your relationship with, for example, your spouse, parent, sibling or close friend.  Think of all the good times, the wonderful things they undoubtedly did for you and vice versa.  

Does one foolishness erase all that?

Dealing with Anger; The Incomplete Picture

For an under 2 minute audio version click here  

Steven Covey, author of the best-selling book ‘The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People’, writes that he was once traveling on a train when a man entered the train with his two sons.  The children were acting rowdy and annoying some of the commuters.  When this continued for a while, the irritated Covey asked the father why he didn’t do something to control his kids.  “We just got back from the hospital where their mother died,” the father replied.  “I don’t know how to handle it, I guess they don’t know either.”

Anger is often based on split-second determinations.  We see something, and without knowing all the relevant information, we make judgments and assessments – while filling in information gaps with ‘logical’ assumptions.  And once angry the facts no longer matter (as explained in my previous post).

Nothing heals anger better than time.  Grow angry all you like, but do not react immediately.  The passage of time will allow you to assess things rationally and with a clear mind.  Time allows one to ask himself the question: Am I operating with the full picture?

This advice is more profound than it first seems.  Anger naturally dies away.  It disappears by itself.  When anger first explodes, it appears to be a raging fire that cannot be stopped.  But doesn’t the biggest conflagration eventually burn out?

In summary: pausing for time and not acting immediately on one’s anger allows the anger to A. die away and B. gives us time to see if we are actually operating with a full picture.  

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