Using empathy to help with feelings of anger

To get beyond our feelings of anger towards another person one simple thinking technique is to use the virtue of empathy and understanding. Empathy and understanding do not require that we agree with the other person. However it does mean that you are listening to them, acknowledging them, and are willing to discuss the two points of view.

Just asking yourself what the other person is feeling right now is a good first step. They may be afraid of losing something that is important to them or they physically be tired, sick or anxious about another event. All of these could create a response that does not fit into what we would like or expect.

You could also then ask, What is really important to them now. It is possible that some world affair is on their mind and they may have very strong view that do not fit the way you are thinking. But if it is important to them they may express themselves strongly wanting to be heard and understood.

Finally ask, How they are viewing this situation. They may see or hear this situation as a confrontation and it may not be so in your mind. Keeping in mind how they see or feel the subject at hand gives us insight into where the person’s point of view is coming from.
Using our empathy skills is a fundamental way of helping us be less angry.

Calming ourselves when feeling angry – Part 1

When it comes to anger, there are ways of calming ourselves and managing anger safely and appropriately. There are many things that we can do, and each of us needs to find what works for us. You will hear some say “Take three deep breaths.” or “Count to ten backward.” or take a break and excuse yourself from the situation for a few minutes while you regain control.  All of these are really about pausing and thinking about what your goal is in this relationship you are engaging.

Continue reading “Calming ourselves when feeling angry – Part 1”

What makes us angry and where do you feel it?

Anger is a feeling we get when things are not going the way we wished or wanted it to go. It happens to everyone, both young and old. It may have been a goal that we had, or there may be a frustration about not getting a need met. As a parent, we have a goal that our children behave in a particular way. When that goal is not complied with by the child, we may get angry. If we are in a relationship and the other person does not meet our expectations in the way they respond to us we may feel anger welling up inside of us.

Continue reading “What makes us angry and where do you feel it?”

Answering the question: Is there an opposite of anger?

yin+yangI went to write a blog post on the two extremes of emotions – anger and _____.  The problem came when I did not know the opposite of anger.  After asking that question I had to ask myself, “Am I looking for the two extreme emotions or the actual opposite of anger?”  Is anger really a stand alone emotion or a secondary emotion?  Is there really an opposite of anger?  Quickly I could answer:   Anger is an emotion that does not come up for us without being triggered by another emotion.  Therefore it is a secondary emotion.


When I put this question out to the general public and friends though, I received many different ideas of the opposite of anger.  First my wife said it was happiness, and then there were many other emotions to follow from others:

bliss, openness, calm, non-attachment, contentment, peace, forgiveness, satisfaction, tolerance, apathy, acceptance, compassion, joy, equanimity, personal peace, NO anger, and tranquility.


I have come to the conclusion that we really have 2 different questions here.  The first one asks, If anger is one extreme of emotions, what is the other extreme?  To that question we must first recognize that even within anger there are levels of anger that go from being annoyed (level 1) to outright rage (level 10).  The behavior that results from those levels of feelings may go from sarcasm to extreme violence.


If we start there, we then realize that you could have opposites to the resulting behaviors.  If it was anger at the level 1 of being annoyed and displayed with the behavior of sarcasm, the opposite may be tolerance and tact.  If the behavior was on the opposite end of the spectrum, extreme physical violence,  the opposite may be peacefulness.


I am not sure if anger actually has an opposite – it may be that the opposites occur in the behavior that follows.  Or it could be that the opposite is “EMPOWERED”!  Empowered to be blissful, open, calm, non-attached, content, peaceful, forgiving, satisfied, tolerant, apathetic, accepting, compassionate, joyful, equanimity, or tranquil.


What I am sure of, is that anger is a very strong emotion that is felt when we feel hurt due to  guilt, shame, loss, hunger, frustration, helplessness, anxiety, feeling less than, emptiness or the biggest one of all FEAR. Fear of not being enough, fear of embarrassment, fear of failure.
From personal experience I have learned that we can learn to manage our anger and the resulting behaviors.  It takes time, commitment and a determined desire to enjoy calmness, peace, tranquility, contentment and joy.   I am here to share what I have learned with the young folks in our community and their parents the awareness and knowledge of anger management by offering one on one sessions to help children and parents bring out the best in themselves.