I’m a Lover Not a Figher

“No one else ‘makes us angry.’ We make ourselves angry when we surrender control of our attitude. What someone else may have done is irrelevant. We choose, not they. They merely put our attitude to a test.” – Jim Rohn
One day I’m going to reach a point where I can have anger directed at me and not respond with anger. I’ll be able to keep my cool with zen-like control and understanding. I’ll be able to look past the angry words and raised voices to see the pain and confusion that exists underneath it all. It’s not that I won’t feel anger, but I’ll be able to handle it in a purposeful way instead of lashing out and/or bottling up my feelings. I’m not there yet, though.

I don’t like who I become when I allow negative feelings to take over me. When I feel attacked, I act like a victim. My ego completely takes over. I lose sight of what really matters. Being right becomes more important than being aware. Basically, I allow factors outside of my control to dictate how I feel and how I behave. And this goes against everything that I’ve learned about spiritual and emotional health.

So, should I just condemn anger? Or never stand up for myself? That doesn’t feel right either. We must acknowledge all of our feelings.

Consider the following excerpt from Health and Happiness Boosters:

“At every given moment, we have a jetstream of feelings operating below our conscious awareness. By bringing those feelings into consciousness, we begin to acquaint ourselves more fully with our deeper selves, and increase our capacity for joy by experiencing the full range of our feelings. For if we cut ourselves off from any feeling, we cut ourselves off from the capacity to feel all others as well. To truly know our joy, we must also know our anger, our sadness.”

So, how do I acknowledge anger without allowing it to take over? I’m still figuring it out. My intention is to always speak with purpose – whether the discussion is contentious or not. Does getting loud and angry make someone appear stronger, tougher? Maybe to those who are only observing the surface. But sustainable strength lies in quiet concentration and focused intention. Art of War, anyone? The more I see someone ranting and raving, the more foolish they appear to me.

Here are a couple of the tactics I’m working on to control my anger:

Detachment – When confronted or tested, step outside of yourself and the situation to view what’s really going on. Our egos tell us that if we are being yelled at or disrespected, then we must retaliate or lose credibility. We must realize that staying calm and intelligent in heated situations is a virtue that is self-preserving and powerful.

Self-Talk – Typically when we’re reacting in anger, our self-talk goes something like this: “WTF? Who does he/she think they are, talking to me like that? Are they crazy? It’s not my fault! You’re lying! You’re not listening to me! You hurt me! You’re full of s**t!” All of these defensive thoughts fuel our anger. The following thoughts would help to calm us down: “I can’t control what someone else does or says. I’m strong enough to deflect negativity. I can communicate my feelings without acting out. I can better maintain my power by staying even tempered and thoughtful. And finally, WWJD?!?!” (That final thought there stops me from doing A LOT of self-destructive things! Just sayin!)

I read somewhere that “…the more you know who you are and what you want, the less you let things upset you.”

What do you think?

How do you handle/diffuse anger?

Do you think it’s necessary to be loud and aggressive to exert your power?

I’d love to hear your thoughts.