Negating Anger

A few years ago, I had the opportunity to attend a Train-the-Trainer session on The Anatomy of Peace, a self-help concept. The days I spent immersed in this education changed my life by bringing a great deal of peace in both my relationships – those with others, and that with myself.

The purpose of this post is to share that learning, which has since evolved somewhat. The original concept too has changed a bit in the book, though the basics remain the same. I encourage you to buy and read the book, with the hope that it’ll help you as it has helped me and countless others.

Anger and other negative feelings cause various outcomes, most of which are undesirable. Some of us may react explosively without thinking and cause more hurt than we intended or in many cases, wasn’t even deserved by the other party. Others may withdraw from relationships without really needing to, leaving the other party confused and hurt. We may also unfairly penalise ourselves, leading to feelings of guilt, self-loathing and more. Apart from how anger effects our relationships with others and ourselves, we may end up binge eating, breaking therapeutic fasts, shop without need, neglect ourselves, neglect duties we’re responsible for and more.

In A Nutshell…

Depending on the context or situation, the person (yourself or others) we can be in one or more of the following boxes when anger or other negative feelings arise.

There are some conditions that go side by side with the boxes.

  • 100% personal accountability – Our own actions, choices and decisions culminate in anything to happens to us and we have the power and responsibility to influence such outcomes.

    When we place the responsibility for personal outcomes on external entities, we forgo future opportunities to change outcomes ourselves.
  • No assumptions – Anything that we choose to act or react to must be verified fact, and not based on feelings or assumptions.

    Working on verified facts not only helps ensure our actions are valid.
  • No justifications – We will accept the outcomes of our own actions, choices and decisions, without justifying or defending ourselves.

    When we justify, we lose the opportunity to learn from our mistakes.
  • Treat people like human beings – We give every person the benefit of the doubt, as we would like others to give us; allow for imperfections, errors and faults, as imperfect as we ourselves are.

    When we treat people and ourselves like human beings, we allow for all that makes us human.

Recognise that the other person is you.

First sutra from the Five Sutras of the Aquarian Age – Yogi Bhajan

For example, you’re working from home and are expecting delivery of an online purchase, for which you’ve specified a time. In the middle of an official telephonic meeting, your doorbell trills loudly.

The delivery seems to have arrived sooner than expected.

You excuse yourself from the meeting, answer the door and find the delivery person holding your product and you let him have it! “This was supposed to be delivered an hour later”, you say in an irritated manner, continuing with, “this is so unprofessional. I’m going to complain!”

You return to the meeting somewhat embarrassed; your clients didn’t know you were working from home and you would rather have kept it that way. You’re not quite able to focus and eventually conclude the meeting in less than a completely satisfactory manner.

After the meeting, you log on to the shopping portal and begin the process of lodging a complaint about the delivery.

Which boxes are you in?

  • I Deserve to receive better and more professional services as specified and expected.
  • I Must Be Seen As a person who doesn’t quietly accept unprofessional behaviour.

We address these boxes and every such situation in the same manner; by treating the object of our negativity (including ourselves at times), as human beings and give them the same considerations we would allow ourselves (or others, in case we’re upset with ourselves). We don’t have to condone, justify or forget the act, but simply understand it, the point being to prevent negativity and anger within ourselves.

  • If we were delivering, and were running ahead of schedule, would we take a chance and see if the customer was available to take the delivery?
  • Schedules are effected by multiple factors such as traffic for example. Would it be our fault that we’re early?
  • Would we want to get into trouble at work, because we tried to deliver early, which would be welcomed by most customers?

Similarly, another situation could involve our making a social media post on a subject we consider ourselves an expert on. Sometimes, we’ll receive a comment that contradicts our opinion on the matter. Many of us behave differently depending on the private or public nature of the situation, and social media is quite public. Our negative reaction might be amplified if the person’s comment is accurate and we don’t have a way to counter it. It is also possible that while the person’s comment may not be accurate, but we’re affronted by the act of someone contradicting us, and respond in a sarcastic or mocking manner.

We might therefore land up in:

  • I’m Better Than this fellow who has commented; I have so much more experience than he does! (Anger) Or
  • I’m Worse Than this fellow who has commented; I have so much more experience in the field than he does, and he’s shown me to be wrong. (Sadness, dejection)

    Plus maybe
  • I Deserve to be treated with more respect, given my experience in the field. He obviously doesn’t know what he’s talking about. (Righteous entitlement) And perhaps
  • I Must Be Seen As a person who does not tolerate such cheekiness. (Demonstration of anger for others)

In this case we are:

  • Assuming the person’s experience or lack of it.
  • Denying them their right to have and express a personal opinion in a personal space.
  • Reluctant to accept the responsibility of having made an inaccurate statement to begin with.
  • Being harsh on ourselves, as regardless of experience, anyone can make a mistake and there’s always scope to learn more.

There are hundreds of possible scenarios where we can apply this concept that helps us treat others better and in a more human fashion. Some of us are tired of being exposed to the same situation multiple times, and snap. Others might find personal fault hard to accept, and snap. Yet others may go into a gloom of guilt at the unreasonable target of expecting perfection ourselves and others, and so many more.

The good news is, once we’ve successfully applied this sort of reasoning to a person and a context, it is unlikely to effect us negatively again. A great reason to go out and experience life, knowing each situation we encounter will make us stronger for the next.

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