Do some people just make you uncontrollably mad? Sometimes it seems that there are those out there who’s only job is to piss us off. Well, here’s something I learned as I grew up – it doesn’t actually need to affect you. Read on to learn how to stay calm when angry (it’s a simple mind trick).
I used to think people were always against me.
Whenever things did not go exactly my way, I would become enraged.
It did not matter if the issue was big or small. I was pissed at drivers who cut me off, people who were late to appointments, bosses who gave me busywork. I even became angry at strangers who would yell on the streets after midnight, distracting me from falling asleep.
Whenever something frustrating happened, I would see the worst in people. Enraged at their actions and seemingly careless attitudes, I often had negative thoughts. I would think of how to spite them, or piss them off in return.
I thought of retribution, and justice. And I would be in a bad mood for the rest of the day.
Sometimes, my anger would turn to self pity. I kept thinking that people were taking advantage of me, that they sensed I would not be a problem.
Turns out I was wrong.
Not too long ago, I realized a simple truth:
People are not against you, they are for themselves.
Just think about how often you think about yourself compared to all the times you’re concerned about others. At any given moment, chances are you are thinking about your own experience. Your life, and how to get what you want.
Even when we serve others, we are doing so to feel better about ourselves. When we help strangers in need, we can go home feeling like we have accomplished something good. And there’s nothing wrong with that. The best service is rendered with joy – there’s no point if it does not make both parties feel great.
So you can only imagine how we act in situations where we do not serve others.
If you find yourself angry at someone, remember this basic exercise:
- Stop, close your eyes and take a very deep breath.
- Breathe all the way in, filling your entire body. Breathe slowly, and focus on the air you are taking in. Continue to breathe slowly and deeply.
- As you breathe, think about whoever angered you and ask yourself: “why did they do that, and what was in it for them?“
It takes 60 seconds, and works every time.
It works because by asking why, you will always arrive at the simple truth: the person was acting out of ruthless self interest, and you just happened to be in their way.
You can apply this exercise to any situation.
If it’s someone at work giving you trouble, it’s probably because they are trying to fulfill goals of their own. Perhaps their boss is assigning them unreasonable projects, and they are scrambling to get it done no matter what it takes. Most likely, they are just thinking about their own job security and well being. They probably don’t have anything against you – or for you.
Realize that someone may have had a horrible day and needed something, anyone to project their frustations to. You just happened to be caught in it. While you may only see what happened to you, you must try to think of everything that is going on behind the scenes – that same person may be having family issues, or going through a traumatic time.
It’s not fair of people to act that way in public. It’s not fair that some people spread so much negativity. That’s just life, and life is unfair. And you already knew that.
The next time you get angry and start going red in the face, try not to raise your voice or get physical. While reacting with rage can give you a short term high, it is a horrible habit to develop in life.
Remember that your time is more important than anything else, and you must not let someone ruin an entire day of your life.
Once you get into the habit of calming down and thinking of why someone acted the way they did, you will start to notice more about people. As a side effect, you may even begin to see the humor in the situation. Instead of thinking someone is an asshole, you will laugh because you will realize they are actually helpless – destined to act a certain way.
Finally, ask yourself: what should I do in this situation, to maximize my own joy and happiness?
One thing is for certain – please don’t waste another minute being angry.
Less anger, more understanding