We all get angry many times. Someone’s elbow hits you in the crowd. The car in front of you is too slow, and someone tailgates you. Your classmates laugh at you. Your mom nags you about tidying up the room. People do not understand your intention.
So many things upset, irritate and enrage us every day.
Have you ever stopped and asked yourself why you are angry?
“Oh, Mom is nagging so much even though I said I understood. Today she even followed me!” “Oh, that crazy guy cut in when I was driving at 70!!!”
You sound as if you have all the good reasons to get angry at someone – Mom or the driver in front of you. You sound as if it was a natural course to get mad in such situations.
Is it really so?
Another question: Is it Mom or the driver that you are angry at?
Let’s think about the driving situation. When being cut in, many drivers get angry, step on the gas to overtake him/her in revenge. It is well known as road rage, isn’t it?
However, there are also many drivers who do NOT get angry in the same situation. They calmly let the other driver get in. Some even with a smile.
What do these two different attitudes tell us?
In the angry drivers’ mind, as soon as someone cuts in, they feel defeated, which they cannot accept. Driving on a highway suddenly becomes a race they have to win.
The calm drivers, however, driving is a means to get to the destination, not a competition to win. So when someone cuts in, they may be able to think, “I am not in a hurry like that person.”
The angry driver, in reality, is angry at him/herself for being defeated; the other driver only triggered the anger.
What about the nagging mom? You are already feeling bad that your room is not tidy and your mom’s fault-finding attitude stimulates your embarrassment or sense of guilt. That’s why you get angry at her, the reminder.
All of us tend to blame others to justify our anger – “someone throws this at me!” But the seed of anger is already in us! Others only trigger it. We are angry at ourselves!
So the next time you get angry, take a breath before reacting and become aware of your anger. Become the third person and say to yourself, “Oh you are angry!”
Accept the fact that you are angry. Then ask yourself “Why do you get angry? What is it that upsets you?” Look for the seed of anger in you.
You will find something new in yourself: competitiveness, embarrassment, guilt, shame, insecurity, etc..
The new discovery will be a clue to explore you.
Finding, cultivating/fostering this questioner, a neutral and detached observer, is a key to understand and heal ourselves. Negative emotions, including anger, will help us find it.
If you have children, please assist them to find this observer. Usually kids can recognize the observer easily when guided. It will help them grow into healthy and mature adults.
Thank you for this article. You articulated so well the problem that we all had but could not pin point what made us mad!