There is a difference between opinion and emotion. Your opinions are your interpretations of reality. Manage anger and nothing needs to annoy you. If you perceived someone as being rude to you, how do you usually allow that interpretation to make you feel? Maybe you feel angry or annoyed.
What Makes You Angry?
Your mind is used to associating certain, external situations with certain thoughts and those thoughts with certain emotions. Basically you build a habit of forming the similar opinion to the way people treat you and also a habit of the same emotional reaction.
If every time someone called you a loser in the past, you realized you didn’t like that, and that interpretation was associated with negative feelings, then this emotional reaction becomes part of your personality.
However, the truth is your opinion of yourself has absolutely nothing to do with the opinions of others. Also, your emotions are always completely in your own control, even though for convenience we often build habits of how to react as part of the process of learning to survive.
We are Born Fearless
Only naturally afraid of falling and loud noises. Other fears must be learned as a result of exposure to things we interpret as dangerous or undesirable.
The most stereotyped example you’ll read in every book about overcoming fears is that when a child touching a hot stove burns himself, he’ll realize he shouldn’t do that again.
If you survive sticking a metal object in an electrical outlet as a child, you’ll probably regret that too. Or if you were once attacked by a bird you might develop a fear of birds. Actually, even if for some random reason you associate the fear response with something completely harmless like chairs or water, you could fear those things as well. And people are afraid of such things as you probably know.
So are you used to being afraid and angry when someone criticizes you about something you are sensitive about? Maybe you are worried you aren’t good looking enough, and you hate it when people criticize your acne. Maybe you don’t like the sound of someone’s obnoxious laughter and it makes you feel a punch of disgusted annoyance in your gut.
Choose some situation you have encountered that you believe makes you feel angry. So is your anger at this person or situation rational? Well it probably depends on the situation. Is anger required to save your life in this situation or not? If not, then there is no reason to get angry at all.
Some people would even argue that even anger in a primal situation such as a street fight is unnecessary as it shuts off your rational mind and leads to poor decision making. You start making a fool of yourself, shouting obscenities and trying to defend yourself from an imagined or real threat and in fact put yourself in even more danger.
Reasoned aggression is more effective than berserk rage. Depending on circumstances of course. Manage anger and you will know what the situation calls for.
Someone attacked my friend once. My first thought was, “cool, a street fight!” But then a second guy was also trying to choke out my friend and so even though I never fought someone before, I decided to help my friend because 2 against 1 isn’t a fair fight. I ripped the second guy off my friend and threw him to the ground. I felt the surge of adrenaline, but I still feel I acted more out of necessity, than out of anger.
But let’s go back to the minor annoyances that upset most people. Someone criticizing you, or saying something incredibly offensive to you or someone you care about.
Is it healthy to be so upset by these things? Well no. it’s just our habit to allow annoying crap to bother us. I’m assuming for most normal people the annoying moment comes and goes. But aren’t there some events that bother you longer than they should?
Maybe someone cut you off in traffic when you were driving, and flipped you the middle finger. He was having a great time. But one hour later you are still emotionally stuck in that moment. Your mind brings you memories of all the other inconsiderate people who have offended you. Your mind is stuck in anger, and thus your body becomes angry as well. This feeling leads to more angry thoughts and before you know it, a huge chunk of time has passed.
You are no longer living in the moment. Manage Anger With Presence.
You are living in the past. If you aren’t in control of your emotions, then they are in control of you.
You don’t need to delude yourself into thinking that the world is perfect and that every event is a reason to feel blissful.
It is ok to criticize. It is ok to form the opinion that you don’t like it when people criticize you or are inconsiderate to you and your needs.
The problem is that these opinions, these interpretations of reality, are often associated with very negative emotions. Your natural inclination when you form a negative opinion is to feel a negative emotion. Because that is the only thing you are used to.
Good and bad, beautiful and ugly, these are only ideas, they don’t really exist. But even if on some rational level you understand that, you are still always forming opinions because it is part of the process of interpreting reality.
We use our opinions of the world we construct in our mind to determine appropriate emotional responses.
These responses become habits associated with similar opinions. If every time you someone treats you rudely, you are used to getting upset for a day or two, that is exactly how you will feel the next time something similar happens.
It doesn’t happen because YOU analyzed this new incident of rudeness as a completely separate event. This new event was compared to, and then associated with all past events in your experience and THEN determined to be worthy of the anger, rage or annoyance you felt. It’s only because you are USED to feeling that way in similar situations. It really isn’t rational.
I had a moment a few months ago when some guy I had just met said something rude to me. Was what he said to me objectively rude? Well, I believe so yes. But it didn’t need to make me upset. And yet it bothered me for about two days. It especially bothered me that I kept asking myself why I was so upset over it. It just didn’t make logical sense.
His comment WAS rude, but it didn’t need to bother me for such a long time. It was my habit of reacting this way, that my body and mind were addicted to.
So I started working on separating my emotions from my opinions.
And sure enough, with some practice, similar situations weren’t bothering me anymore. Some people said similar things that I interpreted as rude, but I separated that opinion of mine from my emotional reaction. I recognized that it is always my decision what emotion I associate with any opinion or interpretation of events.
Just by practicing this, I have been much less annoyed at minor inconveniences, and situations that would have made me angry before now just make me laugh.
Who wins when someone criticizes you and you let that event bother you at all, let alone for an entire day or longer!? They win! You don’t need to let other people’s behavior or any external circumstance affect your emotions.
The basic reason you let it bother you is because you have let similar things bother you in the past. Another reason is that something might be challenging your view of reality. If your reality is weak then anyone can come destroy your world view by doing nothing at all. You are threatened by what you see as a challenge to how you WANT to see the world. But you can overcome these habits.
It is completely acceptable to interpret the world, people, and events in whatever way helps you feel you understand reality, but your interpretation does not need to piss you off or scare you. Being upset when someone calls you a loser is just as irrational as the lady afraid of cotton balls.
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