This isn’t about forgiveness. This is about looking at the real cause of your anger. When someone does something that really angers you, ask yourself “Why are you angry?” What is going on with you that you feel so angry about what happened? Had they done that in a different situation, might you not have been angry? So why is it bothering you now?
Here’s an example I experienced a few years back:
I had a coworker who is a decade younger than I. One day, the topic of eating berries came up (blueberries, raspberries, blackberries, and the like). It so happens that for most of us in our department, we had first eaten berries while outside of NYC. And most of us born and bred native NYCers, don’t like berries. My unofficial hypothesis was that berries were not a NYC thing. Well, my younger coworker felt that was the most ridiculous thing she had ever heard. She was born in NYC and she loved berries, and there was no reason that anyone living in NYC could not be exposed to berries with all the variety of food that exists in NYC; it was simply unfathomable. (Mind you, she was born in NYC but move to London as a baby, and then to the affluent Westport, CT around the age of 6 where she stayed until college. But she knew NYC.)
While she ranted, I kept trying to get a word in to explain how it could be possible but she was too into her rant to hear. As she continued, I could feel the anger building up in me. “Why won’t she let me speak?” I fumed. I finally snapped and said quite louder than I expected “Are you going to keep talking or will you let me explain?!” She turned, looked at me, and stopped talking. I told her what I thought could be a reasonable explanation. Apparently my explanation made no difference and she went back to ranting. I turned back to my desk, noticing that I was still quite angry. I stewed in that discontent for the rest of the work day.
On my way home, I replayed that moment in my head over and over.
Why was I so angry about it? What did she do that made me so angry?
Hmmm, I was angry because miss rich girl from super rich CT felt that she knew NYC better than me who has lived here all my life.
Yes, but there’s more.
And that miss super rich was oblivious to what it’s really like to live in NYC.
Yes, that too; but there’s more.
And she wouldn’t shut up and give me a chance to talk.
Yes! That’s it!
I was pissed because she wouldn’t give me a chance to explain; as though her opinion was the only opinion worth hearing.
But why did that bother me so?
Because I felt like I wasn’t being heard – like I wasn’t being acknowledged – like I was invisible. (I really despise being ignored, but that’s for another post.)
And what lesson could I learn from what happened?
Sometimes it’s not worth fighting to be heard. If they wanted to hear you, you wouldn’t have to fight for it.
This was a big lesson because it instantly reduced my stress levels. There wasn’t any need to get worked up about it. I caused myself all that anger and stress trying to be heard by someone who didn’t want to listen.
So, owning your anger and looking at the true source of it helps you to better react to situations. It also helps you to move out of that anger and to move on with your life. Anger and other negative emotions are a part of human nature. But you never want to dwell in those emotions for long.