Tuesday, August 30, 2011
On Anger. . . Anecdotally
We all know those times when someone just reaally sends us off the edge... those times when words come spurting out, unfiltered, and although a deep urge tells us that what we are saying is wrong, it keeps coming, like a car spun out of control.
And, of course, we all know the feeling that follows this outburst, where we greet that person with spitefulness and resentment when they near us, although, if questioned, we wouldn't quite know why.
Now, this might be just me, but it is in this phase of anger that I feel a deep, deep remorse. I know that continuing the resentment is painful, but part of my body just yearns to wallow in its own misery, and let the offending party see the wrong they did. However, as I have realized time after time (that said, with the same party), they never learn. Knowledge of this fact only exacerbates that feeling of ruefulness; not only is the temporary grudge harmful, but pointless as well.
However, you then realize that it would seem odd to just flip on the 'happy' switch after exhibiting intense forms of loathing, and resort to continuing this spiteful despondency.
Well, a friend of mine gave me some very good advice when I expressed to him my pain in dealing with the aforementioned party. He told me to sit down by myself and speak aloud the details of the situation, as though I am speaking to a psychologist. Doing so allows one to make their struggles concrete, for the notion that 'once something has been said it has been made permanent' pervades all of humanity. When the situation is made palpable, it is much easier to navigate, and whirling emotions no longer reign the dominant force. This allows you to view the situation objectively and guide yourself from outside of the scenario, much in the way you would give advice to a friend (ever wonder why your advice always works when you give it to others but you always have trouble following it yourself? Emotions, my friend. Subjectivity and emotions.)
Tonight an argument arose between the aforementioned party and me. Tonight, indignation served as my reaction to this party's behavior. On this night, the situation I discussed above ensued. Anguished as I was in my vengeful sulk, I decided to take my friend's advice. Within a minute of doing so, my rationality had returned and my emotions had been damped. I confronted the party calmly, apologizing for my anger with clear hopes to move on. I did not, however, ask the party to apologize. Apologies are made for the self, not for the other. Although it does feel darn good to hear someone you're angry at admit they're wrong, you cannot force an apology out of anyone; a true apology is made because one feels they have wronged the other. (This, I suppose, is the cause for my post-argumental sulk... to communicate the effects of the other person's wrongdoing and elicit an apology. Pointless. It is pointless.) Apologize for your actions, because chances are you, too, did something wrong, even if it was merely the intensity with which you reacted to the other person's actions. Apologize; no justifications, no accusations. Just an apology. Perhaps, by hearing you admit your mistakes (and thus make yourself vulnerable), the other party will step off of their defensive high horse to common ground, admitting their wrongdoing as well. Well wouldn't that be fine and dandy? Just maybe, that's what they'll do.
I guess the purpose of this post was to help you, the reader, acknowledge the unproductive nature of anger, and encourage you to step back and use my friend's so-helpful method before losing control and potentially hurting someone close to you, or even yourself.
Fathomed by Arielle F. Herman at 8:06 PM