Shit happens, right? People get pissed off and dump their anger on you. What usually happens is that you get mad right back and the whole thing spirals out of control. Before you know it, you’re saying things that you may (or may not) regret later on. Perhaps it is true, but when you’re saying it out of anger, you can be sure that you’ve distorted the truth; you will have made everything seem much worse than it is. So here’s a way to stop you picking up on the anger, a way for you to listen to the other person without filtering it through your anger. The trick is not to take it personally.
You might ask, how can I not take it personally when the person is attacking me? Answer – it’s their anger attacking you, not them. They’re trying to communicate something but their anger is doing all the talking and when they’re angry whoever happens to be there at the time will get the shit. Even if you’re the cause of their anger, and they, no doubt, see it as personal, you don’t have to. This is a method for helping you not to get angry yourself, to help you not get embroiled in the shit, because the anger will distort everything and to deal with the situation intelligently you need to see straight.
The shit isn’t the communication; it’s the emotion that’s spitting out with it. You know the saying, ‘he saw red’; that’s what it’s talking about. You see everything through an angry filter, everything makes you angry. Another person’s anger is their problem, not yours, unless you take it on board and let it sweep you away as well.
How do I not take it personally?
Tell yourself not to take it personally. Remind yourself that it’s their anger talking and distorting the truth. That will help you to step back from the situation a little. The real trick is to simply see what’s to be seen and hear what’s to hear without thinking about the meaning behind what you’re hearing. Perceive, don’t react. You might think something like. ‘This person’s face is rather red. Their voice is very loud. Their eyes are bulging, They are very upset. Perhaps they are trying to annoy me.’
When you get caught up in what they’re saying and you find yourself starting to think about the content and beginning to get mad, just come back to simply seeing and simply hearing.
If you can manage to feel some compassion for them because they are so upset, that’s terrific, if not, you can at least just watch what’s happening as if it were something running on a TV. That will stop you getting caught up in the shit.
This doesn’t mean that you don’t try to sort out the problem. The person wants to be heard and you need to hear them, but not while they’re angry and certainly not if you’re going to get angry too. You could say something like, ‘I can see there’s a problem here, let’s talk about this when you’ve calmed down.’
This will be easier to do if you practice before the situations arise. Sit up straight somewhere quiet and practice just seeing and just listening. As soon as you start to think about what you see, bring your attention back to just seeing and just listening.
Is there someone in your life that often gets angry that you could try this with, or are you in a situation where people’s emotions tend to run high? If so, give this a go and let me know how it goes.