Friday, June 16, 2006

An End to Anger

You can’t be angry and empathic at the same time.

Anger is a motor response (i.e. from you to the world) where you are retaliating at someone for a perceived hurt, disappointment or assault by them. The result is they feel attacked by you, become defensive, counterattack which spirals downwards from anger to hatred to bitterness.

Empathy is a sensory function (i.e. from the world to you) where you are emotionally understanding and vicariously experiencing (i.e. feeling their feelings) where someone else is coming from. The result is they “feel felt” by you, lower their guard and are drawn towards you.

Step 1: Think of someone close to you (you may not want to take the effort to do this with people you don’t care about).
Step 2: Visualize something they do that frustrates, angers, hurts and/or disappoints you at an 8 level or more on a scale of 1 to 10 (where 1 is “not at all” and 10 is “I want to smash them”).
Step 3: Now imagine being them and what they’d say if I asked them:
a. What frustrates them most about you? (for example, “They’d say, I don’t listen.”)
b. What disappoints them most about you? (for example, “They’d say, I don’t do what I say I’m going to do.”)
c. What incident they would bring up if I asked them to tell me something you did that hurt them terribly? (for example, “They’d bring up the time I cheated on them with a mother/father from our kid’s school.”)

Step 4: Pause and feel those feelings they have had towards you.
Step 5: Now on a scale of 1 to 10 rate how frustrated, angry or hurt you are at them for that behavior you described in Step 2.

After doing this, your upset should go down in intensity. If it doesn’t, then you’re someone who would rather stay angry and be hurtful than forgiving and you are not relationship material.

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