Anger & Compassion

Why do some people get into a rage? Most of us at some time or another get angry. People who are prone to lose their temper, often talk themselves into a hole. This self-talk can cause real damage to the anger-prone person and their relationship with others. This self-talk is often based on false assumptions and misinformation.

Marcus Aurelius said it well, “How much more grievous are the consequences of anger than the causes of it.”

The truth is:-

1. Nobody can put us down or make us feel like worthless without our permission. We allow ourselves to get angry by-

(a) telling ourselves that the other person means to put us down

(b) believing that if they put us down, we must be insignificant

(c) Therefore we should react with anger to what we believe to be insults and put-downs.

2. Rarely do the words or actions of others have the sole purpose of hurting us. People rarely have a vested interest in telling us that we are worthless.

3. Even if the put down is intended, we can stay cool, and not get upset, hurt, provoked or angry unless we choose to. While we may like the other person putting us down, we can choose not to get upset over the whole thing.

4. When we interpret another person’s actions or choices (being late, buying a new car for himself instead of a washing machine for me, interrupting us and so forth) as commentaries on me, I am “Personalizing”. Such personalizing interpretations are nearly always wrong. People do what they do for their own reasons and these seldom center on us.

5. Although we may not like someone else’s behavior towards us, we don’t need to tell ourselves how terrible, awful and infuriating it is. Instead, we can tell ourselves that there is no particular reason to expect that others will always behave in ways that we consider best for us. The fact is that nobody is perfect and everybody does wrong on occasions, even to us.

6. We do not have the right to be exempt from bad treatment by others. We can only change how we react to it. Why should we tell ourselves that such things are shocking and really dreadful when in reality they are par for the course?

7. Should we always expect that circumstances will always go our way? If they do not, does it mean that all is lost? How we respond to these circumstances is what is important.

8. We should not get upset over this or anything else. Self-control is a choice.

9. Why should we claim a right to be angry and upset, since getting upset and staying that way harm us more than the other person? Why should we want the right to give ourselves ulcers and high blood pressure? Why should we want the right to be miserable because we believe that someone else did us wrong?

10. The Bible teaches us to forgive instead of claiming the right to be angry. Forgiveness to a brother, or to an enemy, for hurting us is a good alternative to remaining bitter or a long time.

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