Other People’s Anger

Even if you do all you can do to manage your own anger, you still have to deal with other people’s anger. When you take a Zen approach to anger, you don’t get angry. Things happen. They hurt. They make you sad, scared, or frustrated, but as you focus on feeling those emotions as they happen, they don’t pile up and turn into anger. When you regularly practice observing and recognizing thoughts, moods, and emotions, anger comes around less frequently. When it does happen, you recognize it, observe it and let it pass before it does too much damage to you or those around you. Other people though, don’t practice this. They get mad, maybe even at you.

When somebody around you is mad, you can practice dealing with other people’s anger. When people get angry, they are sad, hurt, scared, and/or frustrated. They don’t know what to do with those emotions, so they get angry. They may say or do things that are hurtful to you even if they love you. They are wrong to hurt you. When you feel hurt, you get defensive and since anger is in the air, you may get angry too. If that happens, you’re back to practicing with your own anger. If you don’t get angry, then you can continue your practice with the other person’s anger.

To practice with the other person’s anger you connect with the difficult emotions that they are dealing with. You don’t have to look for the hurt or fear, anger is enough. Anger is painful. When you connect with the pain of the other person’s anger you can feel compassion. When you feel compassion, you want to help them. At that point, you are not feeling small, guilty and afraid. You are helping a person in distress.

Dealing with other people’s anger is similar do dealing with your own. You try to see the anger as anger and not get sucked into it. When you see anger as a painful imbalance, rather than a reasonable response to the circumstance, then you won’t fall for accepting blame for the other person’s emotions. If you can remain calm and respond with compassion, you are in a good position to ease their suffering. That creates harmony.


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