You can’t shake hands with a clenched fist.
Anger and conflict go hand in hand. Unmanaged emotion will block communication and prevent resolution. But anger is simply energy. It is a catalyst–a call to action. Our choice lies in how we answer that call.
Learn more about anger, and why this author refers to it as a “mountain,” here:
When something or someone triggers our anger, we impulsively protect ourselves through a response of fight or flight. If we choose to fight, we play the role of a hero who protects the innocent (usually ourselves) and confronts the evildoer. Our anger, however, can push us over the fine line between hero and villain. A self-righteous attitude that “they have it coming” drives us to punish the other person. We can easily find ourselves engaging in behaviors normally associated with the villain role: personal attacks, threats, yelling, and inappropriate use of the middle finger.
Anger also motivates people to behave in ways we find objectionable. Yet, flushed with righteousness, they are convinced they are the hero and their actions are justified. It’s easy to see how we can fall into the pattern of attack and counterattack that characterizes confrontation.
If we graph our adrenaline/heart rate after being triggered into anger, the graph looks like a mountain, escalating to one or more peaks. And corresponding to the escalation, our ability to communicate and reason, as well as the quality of our judgment, decreases. As one elementary-school student so wisely put it, “So you mean that the madder we get, the stupider we get?” Exactly.
Read this great book to learn some helpful ways to deal with our anger and that of others.
Adapted from The Joy of Conflict Resolution, by Gary Harper (New Society Publishers, 2004). Copyright (c) 2004 by Gary Harper. Reprinted by permission of New Society Publishers.
Adapted from The Joy of Conflict Resolution, by Gary Harper (New Society Publishers, 2004).