WHEN SOMEONE MAKES you angry, it may seem
that the cause of your anger is the other persons actions.
But what really makes you angry is what you think the
action means. If you look closely at the meaning of an
event, your certainty about it will fade. Youll realize
it doesnt necessarily mean what you think it means. This
uncertainty will make your anger diminish.
Suppose, for example, someone interrupts
you while youre talking and it makes you mad. You know
the person is being disrespectful. On closer look, you see that:
1) an event happens, 2) you figure out what it means, and then,
3) you feel an emotion in response to the meaning you created.
Step number two happens very fast
so fast it seems the event directly caused your feelings. But
that isnt so. And you can prove it to yourself.
Wait until the next time you get mad at
someone. Then try to discover one thought you have about what
they did. You may have to backtrack do a slow-motion replay.
Ask yourself, Why am I mad? Your answer is probably,
Because he did such-and-such. Ask yourself another
question: Why would that make me angry? Your
answer to this second question is probably a statement about
the meaning of the action. Now you have something to work
Take your statement and look at it scientifically.
In the above example, someone interrupted you. You thought, He
doesnt respect me. Looking at that thought scientifically,
you realize its a theory to explain why he interrupted
you. Once you look at it, you also realize it isnt the
only explanation possible! Try to come up with other explanations:
Maybe he never thought much about interrupting, and no
one ever said anything to him about it, so hes in the habit
of interrupting people those he respects and those he
doesnt. Or Maybe he interrupted me because
he has a poor memory and didnt want to forget his thought,
so he blurted it out. You can never really be sure why
another person does something. Sometimes the person himself doesnt
know why hes doing it.
After you create two or three good theories
(this will only take a few moments), your anger will fade, youll
feel better, and youll deal with the situation more rationally.
Argue with yourself this way and everyone wins!
When you're angry,
argue with yourself first.