It doesn’t take much for some people to get angry. For others, the process takes a bit longer. There must be certain criteria present before one is willing to relinquish their serenity. For those who fly off the handle rather quickly, there is a simple one word question they can ask before choosing to become irate. The question is “Why?” Not “Why am I angry?” but rather “Why is this happening?” Let me clarify.
Very often when an individual says or does something, we take issue with it and become upset without understanding the why behind it. We don’t feel that person had any reason, or at least not a valid one, for saying or doing what they did. “I know I said I would help you paint your living room this weekend but I’m not going to be able to come over.” You fly off the handle accusing the other party of lying to you and not being a good friend. Without seeking to understand the reason behind the action you form a judgment that is harsh, thus leading to feelings of betrayal and anger. The township where you reside passes several building codes that make no sense to you other than to cause you more aggravation and expense when remodeling your house. “This is absurd! They’re trying to bleed me dry!” Your parent forbids you to date the captain of the football team and you scream “I’m 17 – I’ll date whoever I want!”
Our lack of knowledge impairs our ability to surmise a rationale behind said actions. Lack of understanding leaves us feeling at a disadvantage; it renders a sense of helpless and powerless, the very definition of anger. And we all know that knowledge is power. By simply asking “Why?” I may acquire the necessary explanation of the reasons behind the current situation. This enables me to better determine if there is valid reason to become upset. Understanding empowers. It enables me to make an informed, rational, logical, intelligent choice as to how to react and/or respond to the other party. I can exchange judgment for awareness and compassion, thus avoiding a negative reaction.
How would you respond to an individual if you knew their motive behind their choice was well intentioned even though the end result did not reflect that? Perhaps that person really wanted to help and honestly did the best they could with the knowledge and skills afforded to them. There are times when a simple misunderstanding may prompt someone to make a decision that appears completely illogical to others. “Based on the set of choices I had at that time, I made the best decision I could.” We don’t always have the ideal set of options and sometimes must avail ourselves of the one with the most apparent advantages. A parent who denies a child something they want may be doing so in order to protect their offspring. Being too immature to fully understand their motives, the child throws a fit of rage. But upon clarification by the parents, their ire recedes as they more fully appreciate the concern behind the decision.
There are times when we may not be privy to the “why” and must make the best decision regardless. Even in the event we acquiring the motivation behind the action, the individual may still feel justified in becoming angry. In those situations, be willing to carefully express your feelings while channeling your anger in a constructive manner.
Before jumping to conclusions, seek to understand the “why” behind the action. You just may save yourself a lot of unnecessary angst and preserve the integrity of your relationship as well.
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