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Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Blow Up Gently

Here I am again, talking about anger. I guess it's a "biggie."
Everyone, even the Dalai Lama, gets angry.

But how do we get angry? In Buddhist terminology, we might talk about "Right Anger" and "Wrong Anger."

The key is this: anger should be expressed, reasonably, so that my needs are addressed without tromping on the needs of others.

Consider anger, then, to be a kind of warning system, like pain, or numbness.

But instead of letting it be the precursor to a damaging defense mechanism (shouting, accusations, fisticuffs), why not let it signal the need for some communication?

When we feel angry, it may mean that "something needs to be said," but that doesn't require starting an argument. Why not, "Excuse me, I'm feeling a little concerned about... Can we talk about this for a minute?"

Of course, we should use all the tricks we have to in order to prevent communication from becoming confrontation. We've discussed counting to ten, getting distance, etc. Don't engage until you can do so calmly.

But neither should we "sandbag," piling up resentments until a dam burst of damaging anger breaks through.

Better, then, to let it out, but gently. Let your needs be known, but with consideration for the other person. Hopefully, you'll arrive at a place where you'll both be happier.

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