“When you give in to aversion and anger, it’s as though, having decided to kill someone by throwing him into a river, you wrap your arms around his neck, jump into the water with him, and you both drown. In destroying your enemy, you destroy yourself as well.”
- Chagdud Tulku Rinpoche, “Putting Down the Arrow”
Dealing with anger is tough. Actually, let’s be honest, dealing with any negative emotion presents challenges. It’s so easy to get wrapped up in the negative swell of anger, frustration, or whatever seems to be bogging you down. It’s important to be able to separate the actual cause of the negative emotions from the emotions themselves and to realize that you have total control over your reaction to any situation. So for example, if you’re angry with your friend, instead of letting your anger get the best of you by fighting back and/or arguing, focus on the root of the problem and work to resolve the situation. In my own practice (which is an EVERYday-kind-of-thing), I have found that even when I separate my emotions from the actual event at the root of the situation the other person involved may not have developed this practice. When I get worked up, I do three things:
1. Take a deep breath. – This helps me refocus on my reactions and calms the fire inside that wants to lash out or defend my position. (I tend to be a very defensive person…it’s something I’m working on!)
2. Have compassion. – After I have calmed myself, I take a moment to think about the other person involved in the “tiff” I’ve found myself in. You could say that I “put myself in their shoes.” They have a whole host of reasons why they react emotionally in a certain way that is completely different than mine. Or, maybe he/she hasn’t yet developed the practice yet to not give into their emotions. Whatever the case may be, I try to be compassionate and understanding to the other side. (This is VERY hard in certain situations, but be patient with yourself in your practice.)
3. Take ownership. – You are in control of your emotions, but so is the other person you may be “bickering” with. In my practice, I only take ownership of my OWN emotions. I can’t help how others react to situations. Now, that being said, I don’t run around doing things I know will upset others. I just know myself to be the type of person that typically worries not only about my own emotional state, but also the state of the other person. I need to remind myself that, I cannot change how other people feel, only they can change that.
These are just a few things that I do, but I’m positive there are a host of other great tips to keep in mind when dealing with emotional situations. Moral of the story? Don’t let your emotions get the best of you!