There Is Another Way To Look At Things: Anger Is A Choice
Posted Jan 07 2011 9:43am
We need not go “ballistic” when someone says something that offends us or rubs us the wrong way. We have a choice as to how we respond to the “slings and arrows” sent our way by the world.
If someone says, “I don’t like you,” one person might get angry over this for a week-and-a-half. Another person might get angry for a second-and-a-half. It’s a choice. It’s always a choice. “I could choose peace instead of this,” is a message you might tell yourself, to remind yourself of your present-moment choices despite what is going on.
For example, when someone says they don’t like you, instead of getting angry, you could say to yourself, “So what? No big deal. Different strokes for different folks. I’m okay, you’re okay, no skin off my back. I don’t need to get angry and twisted over it. I don’t need to get depressed over it. I don’t need to get anxious. I don’t need to believe that I’m unlikable because he says I am. I don’t need to doubt myself. That’s his opinion. I don’t share that opinion. I need do nothing.”
It certainly wouldn’t hurt to consider if you’ve actually done something you’re not proud of to inspire that comment from the other person. Taking a personal inventory when you get negative feedback from others is a healthy thing; staying open-minded and willing to evaluate criticism directed at yourself, instead of getting angry and defensive, is a sign of mental health and stability. Because if you are behaving in ways that are unlikable, this generates self-loathing and low self-esteem at some level, and you would benefit from changing your behavior. And so it would be a blessing that someone would tell you they don’t like you, because it gives you the opportunity to self-reflect, to change, and to become a better person.
But after you’ve done a personal inventory, if it seems clear to you that you’ve done nothing wrong or inappropriate, you’re just being who you are, and that’s okay with you, then it behooves you to be cool about any disparaging comments people throw at you. It’s their problem, not yours. You don’t need to get angry, you don’t need to debate the issue in an attempt to correct their misperception of you. You need do nothing.
When you’re walking down the street and a car drives through a puddle, splashing water on you, it’s an assault of sorts, you get wet and dirty; but it washes away, no damage done. The same may be said for emotional “splashes” people send your way. You may get wet and dirty, but it washes away, no damage done.
When we perceive ourselves being attacked in some way, we tend to get and stay angry, depressed, anxious, frightened, etc., long past the purpose of it, long past any therapeutic value it might offer us, at which point it becomes a weapon to victimize others and ourselves.
Keep in mind the Law of Reciprocity: whatever we do to others, we’re doing to ourselves at some core level of our consciousness. When we attack others, on some level we’re attacking and demeaning ourselves. When we judge and condemn others, when we put them in an emotional prison by continually blaming them, resenting them, and finding fault with them, we essentially put ourselves in the same emotional prison, loathing ourselves at a deep, unconscious level despite believing on a conscious level that our actions are appropriate and justified.
Conversely, if we love others, we’re loving and esteeming ourselves. And if we forgive others, we’re forgiving ourselves and releasing ourselves from the same emotional prison we think we’ve put the other person in.