Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Think in different terms

"Think in different terms"?  What the hell does that mean?  The phrase is meant to suggest getting a new picture, a new slant.

Eric Barker writes the "Barking Up the Wrong Tree" blog and sends a summary of his pieces out each week.  This week's was about never getting angry.  I am, of course, cautious about "never" anything at all, but even more cautious when it comes to emotions. Males tend to get angry, defensive, aroused by things that actually frighten or threaten them or things that are perceived to be dangers.  Anger has a bad name and for good reason, since it leads to violence, injury, incarceration and sometimes, death.  But anger actually is part of our emotional equipment built over time by evolution so there may be good reasons to have it.

If I weren't going to turn into a drugged robot that automatically thinks everything is just fine all the time, even when it isn't, I wouldn't mind not getting angry.  Barker goes through the process step by step.  Suppressing anger, just swallowing it, isn't a good strategy in the long run.  When we resist our emotions they tend to strengthen.

Venting, shouting, lashing out and otherwise accommodating the anger is also not a good strategy.  Plenty of research shows that practicing being angry brings more anger and lowers our threshold, giving us more anger more easily.  

He has us picture someone angry at us for no reason or badly distorted reasons, yelling and being mean and nasty.  He asks what if we then find out that the guy just lost his mother today.  Or, he is going through a nasty divorce and just lost custody of his kids.  Whoosh!  An entirely new perspective!  Big drop in anger, big rise in empathy for the guy, even while he is ranting and being nasty.

See?  She was right: think in different terms.  I think the more I practice different terms, different back stories, different slants, the faster, easier and more smoothly I will be able to switch perspectives from "I want to bash your head in" to "You are a child of God. How can I help you?"

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