I think that when we feel a stab of anger we hold a sword above our own heads.
This image of anger suggests that it can harm the person who experiences it. We must overcome the natural gravity of the emotion, otherwise the sword of anger will strike our own heads and cleave apart our well-being. Allow anger to overtake us, and we may be hurt by it in any or all of the following four ways.
We have all experienced the blindness of anger and how it may lead us to act in ways we regret. The emotion does not generally offer a truthful perception of situations, and so care is required. Otherwise the perceptual distortions of anger will tarnish the quality of our actions.
My own experience suggests that harbouring anger damages our ability to maintain caring attitudes towards others. Certainly we can feel anger and love for someone at the same time, but there is also a human capacity to value and nurture anger that, over time, dampens our more loving sentiments.
You may have noticed that a frequent consequence of anger–fueled vengeance is dissatisfaction. People may think that revenge will be satisfying or bring ‘closure,’ but it often doesn’t. Instead it may lead to feelings of emptiness. In some escalated conflicts, parties are even willing to hurt themselves more than those they are in conflict with, as long as they can deliver some pain to their opponents. This article describes experiments that illustrate how revenge is not satisfying even though we think it will be.
Finally, research indicates that anger can be damaging to health. Angry outbursts increase the risk of heart attacks, strokes, and coronary disease. Anger problems increase anxiety, are linked to depression, and may shorten life spans. Read what researchers have to say on this topic here.
In summary there are at least four potential detriments for someone who frequently feels anger:
– Less reliable perceptions
– Reduced capacity to feel love
– Dissatisfying outcomes of revenge
– Poorer health
So, when you feel a stab of anger, consider the sword above your own head. Do you want to let it fall and damage you, or will you choose to deflect the anger sword with your power to choose a different way to feel and act?
This is my third consecutive blog on anger. The first blog speaks to four benefits of anger along with accompanying cautions. The second outlines how to overcome the payback wish that anger contains. This third one focuses on the potential harm to one who feels anger.
(I was first introduced to the image of an anger sword in reading a passage from the new age book A Course in Miracles.)
Journey to Empathy
Upcoming Presentation in Spain
June 14, 2017
This presentation is being offered by my Victoria, BC colleague Martin Golder.
As mediators know empathy is a central skill. To be able to really listen and to understand what the reality of a situation is like for the parties and to help those parties to that level of understanding of each other is paramount in our world.
Martin Golder started a practice in conflict management as an adjunct to his architectural practice in 1996. He quickly discovered that empathy was not one of his native gifts or perhaps it had been surgically removed in British boarding school. Using a contrived surface veneer of empathy, mechanical empathy if you like, works well as conflicting parties are too wrapped up in their own conflict to notice the artifice. However Martin decided that ‘real’ empathy might work better and so embarked on a quest to find it. This participatory presentation is the result of that quest.
Magic and meditation are involved.
For more information on the conference, click here.