Seeds of anger are messages we receive which lead to beliefs of entitlement. Specifically, beliefs of entitlement regarding how we believe other people should treat and regard us. Once you buy into such a belief the next step is a chance encounter where you are disrespected by another person, leading to you experiencing anger.
Anger by itself is a normal experience, reacting to anger is a different story. For example, I don’t buy into the idea that other people must respect me, I fully recognize and acknowledge that I (like other people) am a prime target for disrespect from another person on any given day. So instead of buying into the delusional idea that other people must respect me, I preference my expectations.
For example, “I prefer to be treated and regarded with dignity by others, in the event I am disrespected, I have the option of removing myself from the situation or verbally asserting a boundary with the person without initiating aggression.” The only must and should, I hold other human being to, is the respect of my life and property.
As I discussed in my book, Taming the Beast Within, the most effective way to manage your anger is by addressing the irrational beliefs which fuel your anger. Almost always these irrational beliefs communicate the idea that your happiness lies outside of yourself, in events and with others. This is simply not the case, you alone are responsible for your happiness. So therefore, beliefs of how other people should or must regard you are irrational, and serve as your seeds for anger.
So how do you get rid of your seeds for anger? While easier said than done, the process regardless of technique amounts to a three step process. First identify any irrational beliefs you have which fuel your triggers for getting angry. You do this by first identifying your triggers. So someone addresses you with an insult, if you find yourself getting upset at the insult, then chances are that you believe that others should not insult you. If this is the case, this is an irrational belief, because you have no control over what other people say. The next step would be to come up with a replacement belief that preserves your dignity while being rational at the same time. A good replacement belief would be, I prefer not to be insulted by others, if I am insulted I will assertively ask the person to stop insulting me, and if the person does not stop, I will remove myself from the situation. The final step is practice, and when practice is not feasible, I normally will invite clients to write down their new beliefs. This creates new connections in the brain.
I strongly believe that while the experience of anger is normal, anger utterly useless and sometimes detrimental when used a fuel to solve problems.
Ugo is a psychotherapist and author of .
I recently received an email request for advice on how to respond to passive aggressiveness. So without further delay I will go into it.
People who practice passive aggressiveness do so from a place of power and control. They don’t want to lose the relationship, but at the same time they want to find creative and passive ways to hurt the feelings of the person who has annoyed them.
The best way to respond to passive aggressiveness is to be straight forward. However, in order for your straight forward-ness to be effective, you have to regard the person with whom you are addressing with dignity and respect.
Take for example, once there was a situation that occurred between myself and a company commander during my time in the military. The commander of my company in the presence of some platoon sergeants hoped out loud that the new soldier coming into the company was a logistics specialist, he further added,
“I hope he has a brain too.”
You see, my military occupation was in the field of logistics, I was in charge of maintaining a balanced property book of the company supplies and equipment which were worth in the millions of dollars. Essentially my job was to maintain a factual balance between what was documented on the property books and what was actually stored on the company premises.
It was no secret that the company commander at the time had a strong disliking towards me. Upon the commander’s passive aggressive remarks, following the laughter of the platoon sergeants, I was left feeling angry and embarrassed. Essentially the company commander, was declaring me to be incompetent at my job. I would later vent to my immediate supervisor, who gave me a suggestion that changed my attitude towards dealing with passive aggressiveness.
I wrote a letter to my commander, in which I copied to my supervisor. In the letter, I confronted my commander about his statement the day before, and my interpretation of his statement. I then went on to detail my accomplishments since arriving in the unit, specifically having to do with how consistently I had maintained accountability of the company property. In the letter I requested that the commander address issues he had with my performance and suggestions for improvement.
The commander would immediately approach me in the presence of the company First sergeant and my supervisor and inform me that his words where taken out of context. Further, he claimed he found me to be a great logistics specialist.
While I am certain, that the commander never stopped disliking me, it appeared that he had developed a new found respect for me after my response to his remarks. He would never again make passive and aggressive double sided comments to me again for the remainder of the time we worked together.
In summary, passive aggressiveness directed towards you, is an invitation to play a deceitful game of cat and mouse. If you find yourself on the receiving end of such an invitation, taking a straight forward approach voids the invitation.
So what are your thoughts and feelings about this post? All agreements and disagreements are most welcome.