Angry Member of the Public

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Dear Sally, sometimes I just can’t stand people. They act so stupid and I have a hard time dealing with them rationally. How can I stop myself from being so angry?

In most cases, the best antidote to anger is empathy. Shared experience has been bringing people together since the dawn of time and it can at least help you be a little less angry toward your fellow members of the public.

The first thing you should do is identify the thing that makes you so angry. It makes you angry that people act foolishly. Now, obviously you believe your actions in the same situation are the opposite, otherwise it wouldn’t bug you so much.

Unless you’re perfect, then I’m sure there was a time when you acted foolishly. This is your next step toward empathy. If you’re like most people, there are probably a thousand instances in which you did something dumb. How did the people around you react? I’ll bet if they reacted in anger, you can remember hoping that they would try to understand your blunder.

People don’t do stupid things on purpose. Sometimes they don’t quite know how to handle situations and commit blunders. Your job isn’t to fix them and it isn’t to increase their discomfort. If you don’t think just understanding their feelings is enough, then you should go ahead and ignore them.

Being angry really isn’t an appropriate reaction to anything, nor does it make anyone feel good. Wanting to control your anger is an admirable pursuit. Keep at it.

Sally

 

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