Do you want to work on a more helpful response to the experience of anger in yourself or others? As we discussed last week, although tricky, working on overcoming our own anger is well worth while, and contributes to to our peace of mind and that of others too. As the Dalai Lama says 'A hero is someone who conquers his own anger and hatred'.
Many years ago I was taught a very helpful strategy in dealing with situation where I am experiencing anger, in myself or others. Whether it is that I am seeing others angry at me, others or the situation they are in or experiencing anger myself I find this strategy well worth practicing to help me develop patience. I think I have shared it before, but I certainly needed a reminder this week as I have experienced others with their angry pants on.
The strategy involves three steps each of which build on each other as our patience muscles build up. As I said last week it is certainly not helpful to respond to others who are angry or critical with anger or criticism back. And it is also often not helpful to negate another's feelings or give advice when it is not asked for. Suppressing our own feelings as outlined in previous blogs, is also not helpful. So how do we respond when we feel irritated or angry with someone in angry pants?
Here is the 3 part strategy...
1. Get out of there
Before we have had any training in dealing with anger and are in the habit of reacting to anger with anger it is best to remove ourselves from the situation to avoid the situation exploding into a fierce criticism ping pong or boxing match.
2. 3 Breaths
As outlined previously this involves being aware of the anger and not reacting in an unhelpful way by either exploding or suppressing the feeling. This takes some practice because it can feel uncomfortable to sit with the feeling of anger. As I have said we often habitually react with exploding in anger back or equally harmfully attempting to suppress it and pretend we are not angry. We habitually do this because we want to get rid of that uncomffy feeling of anger. It is important to acknowledge the feeling, although uncomfortable, and breathe through it. If we can stick with the uncomfy feeling and simply breathe mindfully the feeling will pass and we will be free to respond from a more helpful spot, rather than react from habit.
I had the chance to practice this the other day and was reminded how helpful it is to my peace of mind. I was in a car with my angry person so strategy one, 'get the hell out of there' was not an option, certainly not a safe one! And plus I have been doing some training over the years, so fortunately option two was available. I did my three breaths and then responded by validating their angry feelings with a 'I can see you are frustrated' and then a 'please be kind'.
They still had their angry pants on but my comments certainly helped my present and future peace of mind. I was tempted to chip in with all sorts of helpful advice but fortunately remembered that previous responses to my 'helpful' advice included - 'don't give me that b***** b** s**** ' so decided to refrain and say no more.
This takes some work on steps one and two. It also includes and understanding that angry people are unhappy people and are hurting themselves and others.
Fortunately in this situation I remembered this and tried to feel compassion for them - it is not fun when you don't know you can remove the angry pants and how to do it. Again, feeling compassion may require some practice. I certainly did not feel compassion at the time, although I was happy I recalled compassion was the appropriate response.
When I find it tricky to be compassionate to others one thing that really helps me is a pearl of wisdom a Canadian friend Hilary shared with me several years ago. She wisely told me that when she wants to be compassionate and doesn't' feel that way she says to herself ' I don't feel compassion in this situation, but I wish I did'. This acknowledgment of how we are feeling and the wish to feel differently is powerful in sowing the seeds to grow compassion in the future. Thank you Hilary.
Have a great week. Thank you all
Kind Regards and Best Wishes