I’m sick of getting angry, what now? First, do not text or email chat – Faith & You by Terry Pluto
CLEVELAND, Ohio – Some time ago I had to call someone on a difficult subject.
1. I called when I was tired.
2. I called with the air of being offended.
3. I called without intending to listen to the other person. I just wanted to make it clear and hang up.
You can imagine what happened in this conversation. Let’s just say it wasn’t exactly inspired by the Holy Ghost.
I became crazy. He got angry. We’ve both gone mad. Then we seemed in a rush to see who could hang up the other guy first.
Maybe this has never happened to you. Maybe you are not the prey of what I call “The Inner Jerk”.
But most of us know the feeling.
âI remember reading something that really moved me,â said Father Tom Haren. “I immediately picked up the phone and gave the person a piece of my mind.”
I did the same – and it’s not the right piece, not the one that brings peace.
âI didn’t listen,â he said. “I didn’t ask what the person meant.”
As the pastor of St. Monica Catholic Church in Garfield Heights, Haren knows he is more than himself. His boss has heard from the person who suffered from Haren’s wrath. The boss called Haren.
âHe handled things well,â Haren said. âHe first asked me what had happened. He was calm. Then he explained why the other person was upset. It was a good conversation.
âThat’s what I should have done,â he says. “And that’s what I’m trying to do now.”
When we confront someone, we had better ask them, “What happened?” Type of question – as opposed to a harsh accusation.
DO NOT ARGUE BY TEXT OR E-MAIL
After my recent outburst, the person sent me a calm email with an apology.
I followed up with the same. Then we spoke on the phone a few days later.
But the email exchange took place several hours after our explosion. This is why it worked.
It hasn’t happened lately, but too many times I have followed up on an angry text or email with a typed explosion. More than once, I misunderstood the intent of the message for a fundamental reason – I didn’t hear the tone of voice.
Now when I get a text from someone I know who seems angry with me, I say, “Can we talk about this on the phone?”
Haren said he is asking to meet the person in person if possible.
âYou see yourself,â he said. “I think it creates a better way to communicate.”
I’ll take it one step further: you see yourself as a person … not just angry words in a text or an email.
Even while talking on the phone, we can keep our voices calm … and that can calm things down.
âA gentle answer turns away anger, but a sharp word provokes anger,â proclaims Proverbs 15: 1.
The tone of voice means so much.
HOW TO EXPRESS ANGRY
This was one of the 10 tips from the Mayo Clinic:
âTo avoid criticizing or blaming – which would only increase the tension – use ‘I’ statements to describe the problem. Be respectful and specific. For example, say, “I’m upset that you left the table without offering to help with the dishes.” instead of âYou never do houseworkâ. “
Many years ago someone told me that a good way to express your anger was to say in a measured voice, âMaybe you didn’t mean it that way, but it hurt me when you did this. “
The source of most of our anger is being hurt and / or insecure. Often times, we don’t realize how much pain our words inflict on others.
Saying “maybe you didn’t mean it …” takes some of the benefit away – but the message still gets delivered. I know there have been times when I have hurt or offended someone and I didn’t realize it until it was mentioned to me.
And don’t come back with, âYou’re just too sensitive. “
This starts another argument.
It is better to say: “I did not plan it like that. I’m so sorry it hurt you. Now tell me how you feel.
Give the other person some emotional ground. Maybe they will be more open to what you have to say.
IT CAN WAIT
Ephesians 4:26 says, âDo not let the sun go down on your anger. “
Some people are using this as a reason to have the big debate NOW! There is a problem with that. Sometimes we are tired. Our emotions are boiling over.
It may be a better idea to say, “We’ll take care of it tomorrow”.
Then we have to follow. But sometimes going to bed, even having a restless sleep helps things look better and clearer in the morning.
I know I would have been smarter to wait until the next day before making that call which led to a stupid argument.
And as Haren concluded, âIt’s like Jesus said: Treat others as we want to be treated.
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