Gratitude Journal #4 - People Who Anger Me

posted on: December 5, 2010

People who know me are often surprised when I express anger or dislike toward someone else. If there were a poster child for Optimists International, I would probably be nominated. In fact, I actually won an award at the age of 12 for an Optimist International Oratorical Contest, speaking on the topic of Love. Despite my sunny outlook on life, I still have moments of anger and intolerance. I am only human.

Lately, one person has angered me so much that I twittered about feeling really good about punching someone's face in:

While I tried to put a humorous spin on it and it help several other people feel good about expressing their anger that day, the feeling of disliking someone that much didn't really feel good deep down. As Buddha would say:

"You will not be punished for your anger; you will be punished by your anger."

"Holding on to anger is like grasping a hot coal with the intent of throwing it at someone else; you are the one who gets burned."

Knowing that I am the one holding onto these negative feelings, regardless of how the other person is feeling toward me, my first thought is to try and neutralize my own anger. I start by recognizing and publicly declaring the angry feelings- but while that helps me release some tension, it also just adds more hate to the world... which kind of sucks. It means I'm not really dealing with it; I'm just passing it on to others- which can then magnify and intensify.

"Hatred does not cease by hatred, but only by love; this is the eternal rule."

One of my methods of shifting my energy quickly is taking a shower. There's something incredibly magical about water, especially in the shower where it literally washes away anything on your body. It's also a great private place to meditate and listen to your own inner dialogue. This gave me time and space to bring some perspective to my feelings. I realized that part of what made me angry was not being able to get my way- a very selfish motive. While I felt that what I wanted to do was actually going to help and benefit others- the anger came from a place of not getting what I wanted. How selfish of me to think that somehow what I wanted was more important than what anyone else wanted. That's all anger really is... selfishness. I thought I was more enlightened than that. I also genuinely thought that what I wanted to do was going to benefit others. I had completely convinced myself that my requests were completely selfless, when in fact, my anger made me realize they were selfish. I really don't identify with selfishness being one of my character traits, so I appreciate people who anger me and help me realize when I haven't been true to the person I'd like to be.

With a greater perspective on my own anger, I was able to see that this person wasn't trying to hurt or punish me for what I wanted to do. They were merely trying to take into consideration the thoughts and feelings of everyone that I would potentially be affecting, and how my actions would be perceived by others. They may not have sugar-coated their message or responded with our usual word-softening niceties, which may have made me interpret things more harshly, but they also weren't making it personal... I was. With a perspective that was now flying at 200ft instead of 8ft, I was actually able to express gratitude for the person who helped me see that my actions may not be received as positively and helpfully as I was hoping they would. Thankfully I never expressed my anger directly to the person who triggered me- or else I might have damaged a relationship with someone who might also be able to help me in the long run. I've burned a lot of bridges in my life, intentionally or not, and I've learned that building bridges actually brings much more wealth and happiness into my own life. I'm so grateful for moments and people who help me recognize the opportunity to be a better person.

{If you appreciated this post, please join me in my journey to have a greater positive impact on the world by writing your own gratitude journal and sharing it or a link to it in the comments below. I would love to read your moments of gratitude and share them with others!}

1 comments, to add [click here]:

  1. Hi Anne,

    Here's the actual link to my gratitude journal ;)



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