Tuesday, July 12, 2011
Anger is a tricky emotion.
Anger is what I call a “you-focused, tertiary (meaning third-level) emotion.”
“You-focused” because the message of anger is that they did something to you that you didn’t deserve, and so they deserve your anger (meaning the punishment that your anger doles out). But other people don’t cause our feelings - our needs cause our feelings. So you’re punishing them for feelings which you created.
“Tertiary Feeling” because anger isn’t the feeling that your need created, since it’s about others and wrong-doing, and needs aren’t about other people.
Needs are about you, and your satisfaction and desire.
So if the situation stimulated a need, and the feelings that are generated by unmet needs are ones like sadness or loss:
How did you get to anger?
The answer is,
First, you had those softer feelings.
Then you felt uncomfortable about them
(that’s the secondary-feeling) and
Then you talked to yourself about it.
(“They shouldn’t have done that to me, I was only trying to help!”) and…
Then you had the tertiary feeling of anger.
So once again, you generated the anger - first from the need, second from the discomfort, and thirdly from your thinking.
The good news is…
Since all of this is you-generated,
you can do something about it. There are lots of places for interventions, so…
Let’s focus on the very first one: your fuse.
Since all interactions are about trying to get needs met, and since…
All needs are life-affirming, and positive in their intention.
The basic premise of anger: that other people are out to hurt you; is simply false.
I’m not saying that in the process of trying to actualize those positive intentions that everyone always chooses so wisely the positivity makes it all the way out to the other person every time. Some people make such bad choices, even they don’t experience the positive impact themselves (take drug addiction, for instance).
Those instances where the choices fall short are where good communication, mediation, negotiation and empathy play a role.
But before we get to setting the situation aright…
We have to get you back into a compassionate pose.
The time to start that is now, when you’re not angry.
Imagine someone you’re habitually angry at.
Notice the fuse you shove at them every time you even think about them. You probably think of them as a bad or difficult person.
But the truth is:
It’s just difficult for you to get your needs met around them.
Take that in. It’s not them.
It’s your needs that are the real fuse.
Now there’s nothing wrong with your needs.
They’re those positive, life-affirming satisfiers.
So feel the positivity of that truth in your body.
Then from that place of compassion for yourself…
Look out at the other person and feel the same thing for them.
Mediators say that we start at a “level table.” This means that everyone is equal, the same.
All are deserving of respect, even those we disagree with.
Feel your body relax into that truth.
Q4U: So are you able to de-fuse using this technique? Having trouble with it? Leave your successes and challenges as comments and I’ll help you with your situation.