Choices: Anger or Peace

How many times have you been insulted or disrespected by someone you care about and chose to deal with them in anger? If that was your reaction, how successful were you in getting the desired result? Not how successful were you in feeling better/relieved? How successful were you in getting the person to understand your position and at the same time, keep your relationship in tack? I'm not speaking about someone you hardly know or someone you don't care about but someone close to you. When you have someone in your life you care about and want to keep them in your life, it's important to understand how to really connect with them. For that to happen, being able to effectively communicate with them is imperative.

So, consider the enormous impact of choosing an angry approach to someone instead of a peaceful one. Also, consider how many people are affected if you lash out in anger. You may think your anger is directed at one person so that is the only person affected. However, such an approach usually has lasting implications and can impact more people than just the target of your attack. If you're in a family with children, then your anger is obviously felt by the children. If you're dealing with someone at work, chances are other co-workers are impacted. If you're attacking a friend, chances are other friends will feel the impact and perhaps feel the need to take sides. In addition, if your attacks are frequent, consider the stress you're imposing on your target as well as yourself. As scientists widely believe, stress is a major negative factor in our health. You may think expressing anger makes you feel better but your body may react otherwise. The ramifications of anger can be endless.

Many people are of the mindset that anger is one of the most effective ways to get your point across. While this may be necessary in certain cases, in most instances it is counterproductive. In fact, it mainly serves the ego of the attacker, enhancing their feeling of power and control. If you wish to have a desired outcome, either compliance or respect for instance, you're more likely to achieve that if you approach someone with respect. Likewise, if someone approaches you with a concern or complaint, your outcome has a much greater chance of success when you respond with the intent of discussing the issue, not arguing about it. If you're not in the mood to address their concern/complaint, letting them know you need time and will address it later allows both of you time to calm down and discuss instead of argue. However, it's important not to use that time to sweep the issue under the rug but actually discuss it later.

When you attack someone in anger, the response you receive is usually anger in return, combined with defensiveness. Even if your target has totally offended or disrespected you, chances are they'll deny it if they're attacked and resort to defending their actions. If, on the other hand, you approach them with civility, you increase your chances of establishing a dialogue that will encourage an explanation and hopefully a resolution. Granted, this approach will not always produce the desired results, but it's certainly worth the try if your goal is effective change. In addition, if you remain calm, you may very well learn something about yourself in the process. It's possible your anger was unwarranted in the first place or you made unfounded assumptions. In this case, your choice to approach with peace instead of anger becomes a learning experience, one much easier to accept during civil discourse. Of course, you must maintain an open and honest dialogue and mindset in order to receive such vital information. It's not always easy to accept that your anger was not only misdirected but was the result of your own false assumptions. Yet, it is vital information you must learn in order to make and keep your relationships honest and valuable and nurture your own personal growth.

For those of you who believe that "telling someone off" is the only way to get your point across, review the results of your past show downs. How effective have they been? How successful were you in achieving your goal? Even if you gained your desired result, have you considered the long range impact on your target? Do they still hold you in the same level of esteem as before? Are you slowly chipping away at your relationship? Yes, you may feel victorious for the moment, but what about the long run? Are you winning the battle but losing the war? Even if you're willing to sacrifice that relationship, what about the next relationship that doesn't comply with your wishes or meet your expectations? Disagreements don't have to equate to breakdowns and the dissolution of relationships. In fact, they can enhance them if handled properly. Amazing things can happen when defenses come down and open minds prevail. Allowing yourself to be vulnerable and admit that contrary to your own self-perception, you can be wrong at times is a point of personal growth! Guess what, we're all wrong at some point in time...so what! Once you learn to accept that and understand that your world won't come to an end when you admit it is a life altering moment. It's then that you learn the real meaning of open, honest relationships. It's then that you learn the real meaning of growth.

So the next time you have a choice to express anger or peace, what will you choose? Before making that choice, it helps to ask yourself what you want to accomplish. Then ask if the choice you're considering will accomplish that goal.