You can’t calm the storm, Stop trying. What you can do is calm yourself. The storm will pass. ~ Timber Hawkeye.
Anger is a normal emotion and can be helpful in some situations, such as those related to survival and self-protection. We have also seen that resorting to aggression is often a strong temptation when you feel angry. Aggression might be appropriate to ensure your safety but in most situations is not necessary and just inflames the situation.
Steven Laurent presents a series of tips on reducing anger and therefore limiting the possibility of reacting to anger with unneeded aggression. I will list a few of his suggestions and my comments about them:
- Understand that anger is a problem. Maybe it would be more accurate to say that anger is sometimes a problem. We have seen that anger is a normal human emotion. As long as it is limited to a brief emotional response, does not take over your life and does not remain for a long time, it is nothing to worry about. If your anger quickly escalates into rage, it is a problem. If you continue to brood about what angers you, it can affect your body systems as we have seen and create lack of emotional equilibrium in your life.
- Monitor your anger. It is useful to be mindful of many things in your life including your emotions. The more aware you are, the better chance you have of changing patterns which make life more difficult for you and for those around you. You might have a feeling that your anger is a problem, or you might hear it from others who are affected by your anger. Laurent suggests keeping a log of upsetting events, the anger they cause and how you react. It sounds a bit tedious but might be a good way to track how well you manage your anger. It is easier to see patterns when you write them down in an anger journal. Writing also gives you a chance to think about what you are doing rather than reacting automatically.
- Feel the anger and don’t do it anyway. Laurent suggests here that you be aware of your anger but don’t rush into a response. He prefers thinking about how you feel and why that feeling arose. Waiting to react until after you have had a chance to consider the situation helps you see what alternatives you have available. Writing down what you think in your anger journal would also help keep you aware of the process of your thinking.
- Look after yourself. Several things can make it more difficult for you to manage your anger constructively. One is your health. When you feel run down physically, you will have less ability to think clearly about how to react. The same is true if you are in a bad emotional state or under the influence of alcohol or other drugs.
- Understand the ultimate source of your anger: “shoulding.” Here you tell yourself how things should be, especially other people and how they interact with you. Most people have fairly clear expectations of how they would like others to treat them, which is fine. When you set yourself up as the judge of how people should react, you are more prone to react with anger and see it as your job to correct or even punish them. Along with that goes the suggestion to be less judgmental of others.
- Empathize. You most likely have a good idea of how you would like to react in any given situation, at least one you have faced before. Yet surprises wait along the way to throw you off balance. If someone asked you why you reacted a certain way, you could probably tell them why. Instead of judging people who act in a different way, consider that they might view things differently from you. You would find it easier to be less judgmental if you took the time to understand why others feel and act the way they do.
- Get your facts straight. One of the main contributors to anger at others is faulty assumptions you make about them. You might assume that have hostile intentions toward you, are aware of what your needs and desires are or know what is likely to arouse your anger. In reality, none of these assumptions may be true.
The better you are able to use suggestions such as these, the less likely you are to let your anger get the best of you. In addition, your chances of moving toward aggressive behavior are also lessened.
Excerpt from my recent book, How to Transform Your Anger and Find Peace.
I just released my latest book, From Violence to Peace.on Amazon.
Here is a little information about it:
Why there is so much violence in the world and what you can do about it.
Violent incidents appear in the news on a daily basis. Different kinds of violence surround us in our communities and throughout the world. It has likely touched you or someone you know in one way or another. It’s easy to fret about violence or become angry at those you see as responsible for it. Can you do more than look on as the world unravels? Yes you can. This book will help you understand violence, see where it comes from and what you can do to reduce it. Here is what you will discover:
- The many faces of violence–Find out what violence is and explore theories which explain it. See how violence fits in with human emotions. Put violence in perspective.
- How we got to this point–Learn about the process of becoming angry. Consider a short history of human violence. See the various kinds of violence. See how violence can arise within you. See why people resort to violence. Learn how your family, community and government can encourage violence.
- How religion fits in–Consider religion across the ages, some of the main religious traditions and how violence and terrorism relate to religion.
- How you can find peace–Learn how you can find peace within yourself. Find out how to have more peaceful relationships with others. Explore how you can find peace with God and the Universe.
- A closer look at the worst problems– Consider the problems of domestic violence, sexual violence, school violence, criminal justice contributions, terrorism, random violence and contributions of the media.
- Some tools to use in doing your part–Consider earth’s needs, what legacy you will leave your children, and the various levels on which you can contribute to the process of peace.
None of these challenges are easy to engage in. But playing your part is not just for your benefit. Everyone you know or care about has a stake in the conflict between violence and peace. So does the future of your children and of Earth. Would you like to know more about the path which lies ahead?
Go to the Amazon page for From Violence to Peace. Click on Look Inside to read the first part of the book (free) and start your journey.
“Any intelligent fool can make things bigger, more complex, and more violent. It takes a touch of genius — and a lot of courage to move in the opposite direction.” ― Ernst F. Schumacher
In times of distress, destruction and violence seem to be good solutions. People don’t resort to these because they are full of hatred and anger, but because they are often driven by fear.
It’s easy to prepare for the worst and immediately jump to conclusions. As a society, we often want to be prepared for whatever situation life throws at us.
But when we become preoccupied with our fears, we often forget the bigger picture. Read More.
The ultimate test of a moral society is the kind of world that it leaves to its children.
Some people are horrified at the venom spewing from the mouth of Donald Trump. People at the other end of the spectrum are happy to hear someone express the rage they feel because their lives are not the way they would like to see them. Most of these people don’t dare to share their anger or lash out at anyone who could possibly be responsible for their lives being a mess but suffer in resignation.
The Trump rhetoric is not a reasoned response to feeling angry among his followers. There is no attempt to understand why they are in the situation they are in or to find a reasonable approach to changing that situation. Their sole focus seems to be to rage at those they blame for their misfortune and to destroy the people and institutions they hold responsible.
Trump supporters are not the only ones suffering. Many people silently endure poverty, racism, debt, lack of a good job and medical woes. They could choose rage as well but realize that spewing invective as he does will not change their situation. Nor will it make them feel any better in the long run. Those suffering in both groups do not have the power individually to change their status to that of people with more satisfying lives.
Have you ever known an angry mob to find constructive solutions to their plight? I haven’t. The only way to make reasonable changes is to learn how to work together. But you can’t do this while you are consumed with rage.
People shouting are not in the frame of mind to reason with anyone else about anything. Others who listen to the shouting only hear raw emotion. They don’t hear any details of others’ pain, how it came about or how it affects individuals and families. Neither do they hear anything rational which might become a basis for productive negotiations or cooperation.
So why should we thank Donald Trump? We all have within us the capacity to negotiate with each other toward our common good. All of us have the capacity to descend into blind rage where our words are merely weapons and offer no bridges toward mutual dialog. We can thank him for showing us the worst of which we are capable. He mirrors the depth of rage and spitefulness for which we all have the capacity.
Can you imagine all of the billions of people on earth acting as he does in public? It’s a frightful image to behold. Before we get to this point, we can learn to behave like rational human beings and express our concerns in a way which others can understand and which allows us to work together toward solutions which benefit us all.
Life Lab Lessons
- Write down what makes you angry about your life.
- Try to understand how you got to feel this way.
- Do so without blaming someone else for your misfortune.
- Consider what you have to offer others to better their lives.
- Try out one of your ideas with one other person.
A myth is essentially a guide; it tells us what we must do to live more richly.
As early as people could communicate, they developed stories to explain their relationship with the world and cosmos beyond what they could see. They wondered at the divine mysteries in their surroundings, venerating them in their daily lives. From the beginning, people seemed to appreciate that there was something more beyond their experience of daily life.
With the development of communication, cultures developed stories which gave life and meaning to the mysteries which surrounded them. These are myths which date back in one form or another to the earliest civilizations. These days, we tend to think of myths as stories which are untrue. The original meaning was stories which put into words the larger context for human, animal and plant lives, indeed the lives of the earth and the universe. They were not meant as literal facts but as a reverent way to speak of our home and beyond.
The Koran and the Bible were both initially handed down through oral tradition and eventually published. This makes it difficult to know what was revealed as editions have changed over the years. Just one brief example. In current versions of the bible, the Angel Gabriel is said to have greeted Mary with the words, “Ave Maria”, or in English, “Hail Mary”. The Greek version which predated the Latin presents the angel’s greeting as “Kaire, kekaritomene” or “Rejoice, you have found favor.” Before that was the oral tradition in Aramaic.
Versions of religious stories appear to have changed over the centuries to reflect the civilization in which the great religions were practiced. We now take for granted, at least in the United States, separation of church and state which until several centuries ago was not even a consideration.
Since the industrial revolution, we have moved toward scientific explanation of everything in our world and away from a mythical explanation which took into account our values, emotions and personal experience of the world. Many religions have also taken the position that they are the one true religion and the others are of no account. God has not ruled on this debate, at least not yet.
The major religions have also suffered distortions of their teachings to justify inhuman treatment of each other. The crusades and inquisition are historical examples. The jihad which is geared toward killing random civilians is a more recent example.
When we return to the core teaching of all religions as originally intended to be followed, we find that the common denominator is to treat others as we would wish them to treat us. The challenge now is to return to the basics of our various religions or commonsense beliefs among people of no particular religion. We can treat each other with compassion although this requires us to release our hatreds, rivalries and competition with each other on a human level.
Life Lab Lessons
- Decide how you would like to be treated by others.
- Try treating others that way.
- Be open to how others would like you to treat them.
- Try acting in a way they would like you to act.
- Be aware of the brotherhood and sisterhood of your fellow human beings.
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