I reckon that we’re all going to meet a few (if not many) people who make us angry. Like irrationally angry. It’s these people who bring out a side of us that we very rarely see, and even more rarely acknowledge. I believe that the reason these people bring such strong emotion out of us is not at all because they’re mean, selfish or just all-round bad people (though they may well be some of those things) – but because they reflect a part of our own personality that we simply cannot accept. The result is often angry rants to friends, defensive comments, going out of our way to prove that they’re the ‘bad guy’. If you haven’t caught yourself at this, there’s a good chance you’ve seen this kind of behaviour in others. It’s when we’re exhibiting this kind of behaviour that we’re right on the edge of dealing with an emotional issue that we haven’t quite been able to get to grips with yet – only it’s so easy to turn what could be an experience of emotional growth and development, into a raging emotional battle. A battle almost entirely fought with ourselves, I might add – though it probably doesn’t feel that way at the time. The way I see it, this is a large part of the reason people say that there’s a fine line between hate and love. In fact it’s often the people we do love who bring out those irrational feelings of anger. I think this should be viewed as a positive thing – an opportunity to acknowledge a part of your life that you haven’t been able to accept, one that doesn’t have to be negative either. It could well be that we need to admit to ourselves that ‘I am good enough’ or ‘I do deserve to be treated better’ just as easily as it could be ‘I’ve always been selfish in this area of my life’. The only way to understand and accept what’s really going on in these situations is to be mindful and to take responsibility for our own feelings. I think we generally know the truth to some degree – it’s more just a matter of unlocking it through understanding. Sometimes we don’t manage to uncover the truth and it stays buried, ready to emerge at a moments notice when the next ’emotional opportunity’ arrises. (I think this is why some people avoid certain situations like the plague – they know what’s coming and they’re trying to run away from the feelings.) Sometimes we achieve truth by yelling and screaming until it eventually comes out – but it’s often easier than that if we’re consciously looking for a solution and not attempting to run or blame others for our feelings.
Being mindful of your feelings is not all that different to being mindful of your surroundings – like making sure to be consciously aware of traffic when walking near busy roads. Much like learning to look out for traffic, you also have to learn how to calm your mind and take a moment to understand what’s going on inside your head before ‘blindly walking out into the road’ – so to speak. I actually find thinking of traffic very helpful for this. Imagine your feelings are big cars and trucks driving loudly around you – then turn off the sound, place yourself in a protective bubble and watch your feelings drive past you and back the other way without the stress of all that noise. This way you can observe the chaos of your emotional state without feeling like a direct part of it.
You’re also going to meet people (younger and older) – who are more ’emotionally experienced’ in certain aspects of their life than you are. These people can make you irrationally angry too, only in my experience they are the people who are easier to learn from – because they generally don’t throw your feelings back in your face. This can be a really positive experience if you see past the potential feelings of jealousy or inferiority you might experience in the presence of someone seemingly more confident or composed than you are. The phrase ’emotionally experienced’ could easily be replaced with ‘tolerant’ or ’empathetic’. So if you meet someone who’s emotional experience is much greater than yours in a given situation that you’re not coping with well – you’re much more likely to receive kindness, care, or at the very least a neutral response from them because they understand what you’re dealing with – and likely have no care to indulge your irrational behaviour.
Try to think of a time that you’ve been treated kindly when you know you didn’t deserve it. It’s one of the most humbling experiences you can have in life – to have someone take all of that anger and pain you’re throwing at them and rather than getting emotionally involved themselves, they give little attention to how rude you’re being and simply acknowledge what you’re really saying to them – that you’re upset – quite likely not because of them and that perhaps you need some help. I’ve experienced kindness like this several times in my life and it’s these experiences that make me want to be a better person more than anything – that make me want to be as good to other people as this person was to me, even though I didn’t deserve it.
My message here is to embrace all interactions, perhaps even try to enjoy the raging battle of emotions life can throw at you – just try not to take it out on other people. Take responsibility for your own feelings – believe in yourself and your values enough to know that you’re not directly responsible for the way others feel. If you find yourself in a situation with someone who is equally emotionally inexperienced as you, take a minute to be mindful of your feelings before you say or do something regrettable. If you’re confronted by someone less emotionally experienced in a particular area than you are, and they’re taking it out on you, don’t bite back or antagonise them – be the bigger person and imagine what kind of an impact you might have on them. Consider how much they might seriously benefit, learn and grow from not being chewed out for being an asshole, and simply being understood – or at least listened to.
Thanks for reading!