If we told you that there was one simple word that could prevent anger from arising would you be interested in discovering what that word is? Or in the event that anger showed up without warning, this same word could easily subdue it and restore your sense of calm? Would you utilize this information to create a happier life for yourself? Of course you would! Well, there is one simple magic word that can do just that, and the word is “WHY”.
People often get angry without a deep understanding of the cause. Some have short fuses and every small incident seems to irritate them. In areas where the average person might not give the event a second thought, others fly off the handle.
When asked why they are angry, oftentimes they have no rational explanation. “I don’t know – some things just bother me a lot.” In the case of observing another person become upset over something we deem to be a non issue, we may make such statement as, “You’re acting like a fool!”.
Ours is an angry planet and sadly, not only do people refuse to take responsibility for their ire, but in many instances fail to have to clear understanding of why the anger emerged initially.
Consider the following scenarios where “why” can neutralize or prevent anger from manifesting.
Dealing with one’s own anger:
Imagine you’re in a situation that triggers your anger. You ordered a gift for your husband’s birthday making sure there was ample time for it to arrive by his special day. However, the package was a week late and when you opened it you realized they had send the wrong item.
You are livid and immediately call customer service, proceeding to rant on the woman hired to assist you. Even one who’s trained and paid to deal with irate customers is not deserving your wrath. She assures you that the correct item will be mailed promptly and offers to send you a return shipping label to make the return process easier for you. For your inconvenience, she is authorized to give you a 10% discount off of your next purchase.
Your anger begins to subside as you offer her an apology for your rudeness. Damage done and corrected. However, wouldn’t it have been wiser to not become so agitated from the get go?
By utilizing the “why” question, one can avoid an angry outburst such as described. Upon the first inkling of annoyance, stop and ask yourself, “Why am I so upset? Why am I allowing this relatively insignificant incident to cause me so much grief?”
Your answers might be something that looks like, “This company or worker is inept. This is no way to run a business. I am frustrated and feel that as a paying customer they don’t value my business. That’s rude and disrespectful of me and that makes me mad!”
The why challenges me to look within myself for the answers rather than blame others and hold them accountable for how I feel. Are my feelings valid? Are my perceptions of the company/workers fair and reasonable? Are my expectations (of perfection on their part) unrealistic? Am I being too harsh and judgmental? What does my anger afford me? Do I think I need it in order to rectify the situation? Can I achieve the same results or better by taking a different approach, perhaps one of logic and reason?
Authentic power comes from one’s ability and willingness to look at themselves, to question their feelings, actions, motives, objectives, etc.
Dealing with an angry person (as an observer):
If you are dealing with someone who is outraged over an incident that does not involve you, asking the why question can help them come to a deeper understanding of precisely why they are reacting to said event with anger.
Similar in nature to the questions one asks themselves, begin by asking why are they upset? Why do they allow this incident to become problematic for them? Does it change the situation? Will it make things better for them? What’s fascinating about questioning others rather than telling them what to do (“Don’t be angry!”) is that it challenges them to discover their truth on their own. Most people do not respond well to others who impose demands or suggestions on them.
In any event, why is a powerful and wise response to anger in general. As we previously stated, why provides understanding and understanding leads to compassion – a perfect means to neutralize anger.
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