Through the wonderful randomness of the wonderweb, I recently came across a great article about what anger is, and how to deal with it. It’s by an American psychologist, and he outlines a four step process.
- First, someone hurts or offends you.
- You have to acknowledge that hurt and ask yourself why it hurts.
- Avoid the popular response to that hurt.
- Practice forgiveness.
Now, just by themselves, these steps sound a bit trite. But there’s much more. First of all, you need to recognise that your anger doesn’t come from nowhere. It comes because you’ve been hurt. You have to be big enough to recognise that you’ve been hurt. This means acknowledging that you are vulnerable.
The normal response to being hurt is to get angry, and getting angry means you want revenge. The bigger the better. Anger is all about revenge. You were hurt and you want the person who hurt you to suffer as much as you did. Normal and natural, and encouraged by our society. But put a spoke in that wheel.
Understand that everyone is motivated by selfish, inconsiderate behaviour and a need to hide their weaknesses and to not look foolish. Their way of covering their weakness is to lash out. Maybe in your direction. If you understand that they are acting out of weakness and a desire to protect themselves, you won’t have a need for revenge. They deserve your pity, not your anger. But don’t think that this means you should take all hurt on the chin and be a martyr. Far from it. You’ve been hurt. Your job is to acknowledge that hurt and act on it, but before it becomes anger. It can be enough just to say ‘you really hurt me’, rather than say nothing and allow the anger to build into a need for revenge. Say ‘you really hurt me’, feel the pain, then understand that they were acting out of their own selfishness and weakness, and feel compassion for them.
It is more than worthwhile to read the whole article, which you can find on the Guide to Psychology website.