“For every minute you are angry you lose sixty seconds of happiness”—Ralph Waldo Emerson
Anger is as much of our daily lives as breakfast and dinner. These hectic and impersonal times constantly provoke our anger, whether it is the frustration that comes from “conversing” with voice activated repairs and reservations attendants, the break down of our email provider’s servers, or being made late to an appointment because of heavy traffic. For the most part, however, we are able to let go of such anger with the simple passage of time.
Of much greater concern, however, is deeply rooted anger and resentment. Such imbedded angers breeds strong control responses that are harmful to others and us. We become close minded and rigid. We lash out and intimidate, withdraw and isolate, become obsessed and possessed.
Carrie Fisher says it best: “Resentment is like drinking the poison and waiting for the other person to die”.
Process Your Anger
In Losing Control, Finding Serenity I stress the importance of timely processing our anger and resentment, and provide tools in which to do that. For example, the next time your anger is provoked, take some time to address it. Try to get in touch with what is really behind it. Were you really harmed? Or is it just your ego? Are you creating a mountain out of a molehill?
Also, don’t make assumptions about other people’s motives. Make sure you know the facts; seek clarification, if necessary. You’d be surprised at how much of our anger is based on misinformation.
Accept “What Is”
A highly effective method of processing anger is accepting the “what is” of disturbing situations. Doing so significantly diminishes our anger and the need to control.
Let me share a personal story that demonstrates what I mean. Some years back, a real estate agent had placed a large, unauthorized “For Sublease” sign at the entrance to one of my properties. I had known and done business with this agent for over twenty years, and he well knew that we never allowed such signage.
I was absolutely furious when I found out what he had done and was ready to sick the legal bloodhounds on him. Fortunately, I didn’t. By then I knew better about reacting impulsively with strong control actions when angered. Instead, I worked at processing my anger and hurt feelings. I asked myself how important this “affront” really was. I recognized that the only real harm was to my feelings, not to the property. I then called the agent and asked him if he was resentful of me for some reason. He said no, he simply felt he had a duty to represent his client and that duty took precedence over my interests. I could at least understand the basis for his action, even if I disagreed with it. My anger subsided and I allowed his sign to remain, and I didn’t lose any sleep over the matter.
Several days later, someone called the agent and asked to look at the sublease space. The caller decided the space did not suit his needs but did find another space in our building that he liked. The new tenant told me that he would never have stopped to look at the space in our building had it not been for the unauthorized sign. Wow! Who would have known? Certainly not me.
The above case is no exception. I have experienced time and again that when I am able to accept “what is”, the dynamics of an unsettling situation change, often dramatically. Positive thoughts and energy replace negative ones. Obstacles are lessened or removed. Unexpected paths appear.
The next time your anger or resentment rears its fiery head try some of the above tools. Please drop me a line and let me know how it went.
Let It Go!