If an incident occurs and I am immediately angry . . .

Q. ‘If an incident occurs and I am immediately angry. What can I do?’

My answer can’t take into account the countless permutations of all the possible situations. Use the steps below as a rough guide.

In the heat of the moment you won’t remember the steps anyway, but you might remember one thing that will help.

1. First, be aware of your anger. Label it. Tell yourself ‘I feel angry’ or ‘I feel miffed’ or whatever. Look for the right words to describe exactly what you are feeling.

2. Gather your thoughts by:

(i) Reminding yourself that the purpose of your anger is to rectify the situation.
(ii) Remind yourself of the person’s good qualities and their past kindnesses, if that’s applicable.
(iii) Make sure you have the facts right.
(iv) Look at the incident from the other person’s point of view. How do they view the situation? What does the person want from the situation?

Is it possible that the other person is feeling pain too? Remember, we all want the same basic things: encouragement, recognition, affection . . . and none of us want loneliness, rejection or anguish. Everyone wants happiness, so if the other person is acting badly it’s because their method of finding happiness is mediocre. Remember, we are all in this boat together, in this stormy sea.

3. Do it.

(i) Slow yourself down. That will help you choose your words carefully.
(ii) State how you feel and state your concerns. Explain clearly what you want to happen.
 ‘I feel angry with what you have done.’

4. Recover.

You might want to:
(i) Aim to let go of the incident. More on that later.
(ii) Ask yourself: ‘How important will this be to me in a week from now? Or a year?’
 That might at least diminish the intensity of your feelings.
(iii) Congratulate yourself. For example: ‘I handled that well. Even though I felt annoyed, I didn’t raise my voice too much and I think I got a better result because of it.’
Praise yourself for the things you did right and you are more likely to do them next time.

Once you feel confident that you can express your anger intelligently, you lose your fear of being angry. That’s because you know that you can use your anger to effect change, rather than be a victim of it. That confidence adds to your resilience.

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