!Do you ever get your angry pants on and forget you can take them off? I have been noticing a few people wearing their angry pants as they express their rage over waiting for doctors, traffic jams and delays and other disruptions or frustrations. We all get angry at times, anger just seems to pop up out of nowhere! But, as we know anger is a habit and like all habits can be changed through remembering we have a choice in how we respond when it pops up.
It is tricky when the unhelpful habits of expressing or repressing our anger both are strong. But, as Neuroscience tells us habits can be changed. It feels uncomfortable when anger arises and we often habitually explode or equally harmfully implode or repress our anger, to try to escape the discomfort of feeling angry. But we can free ourselves of these harmful reactions with some training. As I have said many times I find taking 3 mindful breaths when I feel the discomfort of anger arise. the frees me from the habit of reacting with explosion or suppression and allows me to respond from a more helpful spot.
Sadly, we often don't realise or forget that we have a choice when it comes to our response to anger. Sometimes we get up in the morning, 'on the wrong side of the bed' put our angry pants on and go about our day full or negativity, frustration and anger. We don't know we can take those angry pants off, and how to do it.
So, what is my best response in the face of someone wearing their angry pants? The answer is to not respond with anger back, which can be challenging and can take some practice. It helps to understand that anger never helpful. As the Dalai Lama says "Anger is the ultimate destroyer of your peace of mind".
So we can take our 3 mindful breaths and not criticise, express anger back, or suppress it either. Sitting in this discomfort for awhile and allowing it to pass frees us and allows for a wise response. We will talk more about this next week blog - '3 Steps in Dealing with Someone Wearing Angry Pants'.
It is important that we allow ourselves to acknowledge the feeling of anger, frustration or resentment. Suppressing it or pretending it is not there and attempting to bypass the feeling is never helpful. I find the 3 breaths very helpful in freeing me from the habitual response of reacting back in anger or attempting to suppress of ignore it, both. When I acknowledge the feeling and breathe I am free to choose to respond in a more helpful way.
If we are able to not react with anger back to someone who is angry, this may or may not help them with their anger, but it will certainly help us feel better about the situation and benefit our future peace of mind too. The appropriate response to someone hurting themselves by being angry is compassion, however if you are like me you may need lots of practice with not responding back in anger first.
One thing I often forget to do in the face of someone who is angry at me or a situation, is to acknowledge or validate their feeling of frustration at a particular event with something like - 'you seem frustrated by the wait, it has been a long time'. This is like that acknowledgment of my own feelings too. However this acknowledgment does not mean hopping on that negative angry train with them or ourselves either.
Doing 3 breaths allows me to respond from a helpful spot rather than get angry at them for being angry, critical or negative. It also helps me to resist the temptation to give them all sorts of advice on what they need to do to remove their angry pants! In my experience this giving of advice when it is not asked for, often inflames an angry situation.
So this is yet another way I can be better for others. No one likes to be around people who are angry, including ourselves. As the Dalai Lama says 'It destroys our peace of mind".
If I can be more aware of acknowledging the feeling and taking 3 breaths to create some space for a more appropriate response when I experience anger in myself or others I can be better for others and myself too. Patience and compassion for myself and others, although may take some work to cultivate, always feels good. More about this next week
Have a great week. Thank you all!
Kind Regards and Best Wishes