“Holding onto anger is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die” Buddha
Ever been really, really angry? You know – like the kind of anger that causes you to repeat the details of the incident over and over?
I was the queen of holding onto those moments until I realized that I was making myself sick and the person I am upset with had no idea. I was drinking poison and expecting the person to die.
Once I realized this, I went on a detox – no more poison for me. However, there was one small problem with my detox program – I had no plan for how to handle those moments when someone else’s anger was in my face.
I noticed the funniest thing – the smallest change of habit can massively change you life.
Here is what I mean. When I was in a conversation with an aggressive person, I felt that I could not break eye contact. This small detail locked me into a conversation that I would later regret because I would get sucked into the aggression.
Next thing I knew I was guzzling down gallons of toxic thoughts. The negativity from the other person’s aggression upset me and now I was angry, too.
One day, I realized I could look away. When someone gets aggressive or confrontational, I could look down, to the side, even get up and get some water.
In other words, I do not have to participate in someone else’s intensity.
For some of you, this is an incredibly obvious point, probably because you are the type that avoids confrontation. Staying quiet while someone else is aggressive is easy for you.
What if I said you do not have to sit quietly as someone rants on and on for what seems like eternity? You do not have to feel stuck, paralyzed, fearful, or avoidant. You can say you have to go – because when someone is throwing stones it is a good idea to duck.
The smallest change makes the biggest difference
Don’t overcorrect. To break out of this pattern I simply just broke eye contact. From there, I just went to the bathroom or got a glass of water.
I did not have to engage.
Afraid of engaging? The idea makes your palms sweat? Feel like a deer in headlights?
Same answer. Don’t overcorrect.
Breathe. Blink. Sit back in your chair. Drink some water.
We are not victims or heroes. We don’t have to take on the aggressor or feel victimized by them.
The aggressor is having a bad day – leave their day with them. Have some compassion for the misery they are feeling, but don’t drink their poison.
Give it a try.