6 Tips to Handle Angry People

by Judith Orloff MD:

The common dynamic with angry people is that they use anger to cope with feeling inadequate, hurt, or threatened…
whether the person acts out occasionally or not. Anger is one of the hardest emotions to control due to its evolutionary value of defending against danger. When you’re confronted with anger, your body instinctively tightens, the opposite of a surrendered state. It goes into fight or flight mode. Adrenaline floods your system. Your heart pumps faster. Your jaw and muscles clench. Your blood vessels constrict. Your gut tenses. In this hyper-charged condition, you want to flee or attack.

Anger addicts though cope with conflict by accusing, attacking, humiliating, or criticizing. Unchecked they can be dangerous and controlling.

Anger can tyrannize relationships. One woman I treated had stopped having any male friends because she was afraid of her partner’s unrelenting jealous anger. If she went to lunch, for instance, with a male colleague from work her partner would barrage her with cell phone messages during the meal. Initially, unable to set boundaries, she appeased him by giving in. My patient told me she didn’t want to “create a war at home” by doing anything to provoke his wrath. Clearly, we had our work cut out for us in therapy. She didn’t want to leave her partner but she needed to be strong enough to assert healthier limits in the relationship.

Instead of running or retaliating, try my approach. First, take a breath to calm down. Tell yourself, “Do not respond with anger. That will just make things worse.” If the person is being abusive excuse yourself from the situation. If you can’t escape, say with a boss, try to stay centered, non-reactive, and not feed the anger. Later, when you can address the anger more fully, admit your unedited reactions to yourself or a supportive person. This prevents anger from building up. You can’t start the process of surrendering anger until you’ve acknowledged the raw emotion.

When you’re exposed to anger, here are some steps from my book The Ecstasy of Surrender to calm your system and have a clear head. Without this you’re trapped in reactive behavior which gets you nowhere at all.

How to Communicate with Anger Addicts

Step 1. Surrender Your Reactivity. Pause when agitated

Take a few slow breaths to relax your body. Count to ten. Don’t react impulsively or engage the anger even though your buttons are pushed. Reacting just makes you weak. Though you may be tempted to lash out try not to give in to the impulse. Focus on your breath, not the angry person. You may still feel upset but you’ll be calm and in charge at the same time!

Step 2. Practice Restraint of Tongue, Phone, and E-mail

Do not retaliate or respond at all until you are in a centered place. Otherwise you might communicate something you regret or can never take back.

Step 3. Blend, Relax, and Let Go
Resistance to pain or strong emotions intensifies them. In martial arts, you first take a breath to find your balance. Then you can transform the opponent’s energy. Try staying as neutral and relaxed as possible with someone’s anger instead of resisting it. At this stage, don’t argue or defend yourself. Rather, try to let their anger flow right through you.

Step 4. Acknowledge their position

To disarm angry people, you must weaken their defensiveness. Otherwise, they’ll dig in their heels and won’t budge. Defensiveness stifles flow. Therefore, it’s useful to acknowledge an anger addict’s position, even if it offends you. From a centered place say, “I can see why you feel that way. We both have similar concerns. But I have a different way to approach the problem. Please hear me out.” This keeps the flow of communication open and creates a tone for compromise.

Step 5. Set Limits
Now, state your case. Request a small, do-able change that can meet your need. Then clarify how it will benefit the relationship. Tone is crucial. For instance, calmly but firmly say to an in-law who’s yelling at you, “I love you but I shut down when you raise your voice. Let’s work this out when we can hear each other better.” Then you can discuss a solution. If people persist in dumping toxic anger, you must limit contact, define clear consequences such as “I can’t see you if you keep criticizing me,” or let the relationship go. You can also use “selective listening” and not take in all the details of an outburst. Focus on something uplifting instead.

Step 6. Empathize.
Ask yourself, “What pain or inadequacy is making this person so angry? Then take some quiet moments to intuit where the person’s heart is hurting or closed. This doesn’t excuse bad behavior but it will allow you to find compassion for the suffering behind it, even if you choose not to be around the person. Then it’s easier to surrender resentments so they don’t eat at you.

Gathering your power before you respond to anger takes awareness and restraint. Admittedly, it’s hard to surrender the need to be right in favor of love and compromise. It’s hard not to attack back when you feel attacked. But, little by little, surrendering these reflexive instincts is a more compassionate, evolved way to get your needs met and keep relationships viable if and when it’s possible.
Source: The Huffington Post

The Art of Communicating ~ Thich Nhat Hanh

Released Date: August 13, 2013
Zen master Thich Nhat Hanh, bestselling author of Peace is Every Step and one of the most respected and celebrated religious leaders in the world, delivers a powerful path to happiness through mastering life’s most important skill.

How do we say what we mean in a way that the other person can really hear?

How can we listen with compassion and understanding?

Communication fuels the ties that bind, whether in relationships, business, or everyday interactions. Most of us, however, have never been taught the fundamental skills of communication—or how to best represent our true selves. Effective communication is as important to our well-being and happiness as the food we put into our bodies. It can be either healthy (and nourishing) or toxic (and destructive).

In this precise and practical guide, Zen master and Buddhist monk Thich Nhat Hanh reveals how to listen mindfully and express your fullest and most authentic self. With examples from his work with couples, families, and international conflicts, The Art of Communicating helps us move beyond the perils and frustrations of misrepresentation and misunderstanding to learn the listening and speaking skills that will forever change how we experience and impact the world.

Thich Nhat Hanh is a Vietnamese Buddhist Zen Master, poet, scholar, and peace activist who was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. He is the author of many books, including the classics Peace Is Every Step and The Art of Power. Hanh lives in Plum Village, his meditation center in France, and leads retreats worldwide on the art of mindful living.

Oprah Winfrey talks with Thich Nhat Hanh Excerpt – Powerful

Published on May 12, 2013

Truly insightful, deep and powerful. Oprah Winfrey via her incredible OWN network, talks to Thich Nhat Hanh about becoming a monk, meeting Martin Luther King Jr; The powers of mindfulness, insight, concentration and compassion, How to transform warring parties and how to deeply transform relationships.

Ram Dass interviews Thich Nhat Hanh

Ram Dass interviews Thich Nhat Hanh at the State of the World forum, September 1995

The Art of Peace ~ Morihei Ueshiba (updated July 30, 2011)

The following is a summarized transcript of the above video clip:

Practice of the Art of Peace enables you to rise above praise or blame, and it frees you from attachment to this and that.

Inner principles give coherence to things; the Art of Peace is a method of uncovering those principles.

A good mixture is 70 percent faith and 30 percent science. Faith in the Art of Peace will allow you to understand the intricacies of modern science.

Conflict between material and spiritual science creates physical and mental exhaustion, but when matter and spirit are harmonized, all stress and fatigue disappear.

If you have not
Linked yourself
To true emptiness,
You will never understand
The Art of Peace.

Your heart is full of fertile seeds, waiting to sprout. Just as a lotus flower springs from the mire to bloom splendidly, the interaction of the cosmic breath causes the flower of the spirit to bloom and bear fruit in this world.

Every sturdy tree that towers over human beings owes it’s existence to a deeply rooted core.

To practice properly the Art of Peace, you must:
-calm the spirit and return to the source.
-Cleanse the body and spirit by removing all malice, selfishness, and desire.
-Be grateful for the gifts received from the universe, your family, Mother Nature, and your fellow human beings.

Large does not always defeat little. Little can become large by constant building; large can become little by falling apart.

Loyalty and devotion lead to bravery. Bravery leads to the spirit of self-sacrifice. The spirit of self-sacrifice creates trust in the power of love.

The Way of a Warrior
Cannot be encompassed
By words or in letters:
Grasp the essence
And move toward realization!

The purpose of training is to tighten up the slack, toughen the body, and polish the spirit.

Instructors can impart a fraction of the teaching. It is through your own devoted practice that the mysteries of the Art of Peace are brought to life.

The Way of a Warrior is based on humanity, love, and sincerity; The heart of martial valor is true bravery, wisdom, love, and friendship. Emphasis on the physical aspects of warriorship is futile, for the power of the body is always limited.

There are no contests in the Art of Peace. A true warrior is invincible because he or she contests with nothing. Defeat means to defeat the mind of contention that we harbor within.

The Art of Peace is not an object that anyone possesses, nor is it something you can give to another. You must understand the Art of Peace from within, and express it in your own words.

The totally awakened warrior can freely utilize all elements contained in Heaven and Earth. The true warrior learns how to correctly perceive the activity of the universe and how to transform martial techniques into vehicles of purity, goodness, and beauty. A warriors mind and body must be permeated with enlightened wisdom and deep calm.

The Art of Peace is medicine for a sick world. We want to cure the world of the sickness of violence malcontent, and discord-this is the Way of Harmony. There is evil and disorder in the world because people have forgotten that all things emanate from one source. Return to that source and leave behind all self-centered thoughts, petty desires, and anger. Those who are possessed by nothing possess everything.

Practice of the Art of Peace is an act of faith, a belief in the ultimate power of purification and faith in the power of life itself. It is not a type of rigid discipline or empty asceticism. It is a path that follows natural principles, principles that must be applied to daily living. The Art of Peace should be practiced from the time you rise to greet the morning to the time you retire at night.

The Art of Peace emanated from the Divine Form and the Divine Heart of existence; it reflects the true, good, beautiful, and absolute nature of creation and the essence of it’s ultimate grand design. The purpose of the Art of Peace is to fashion sincere human beings; a sincere human being is one who has unified body and spirit, one who is free of hesitation or doubt, and one who understands the power of words.