Anger is a dangerous element. If anger was an element, it would be fire. Life fire, anger can spread and grow, smolder and rekindle. In the end, anger leaves you spent and burned out. Some of the things that set me off and my proposed way of defeating them are listed here.
This is my biggest challenge every day. If there’s one thing that can get to me, it’s traffic. And I know why that is. There is so much selfishness on display when driving that it infuriates me that this is how the world operates. I try to impress on people that driving is a team sport, that everyone needs to work together for the whole operation to work smoothly. When you have a rogue player, that messes up the whole play and possibly the whole game. But, like in many sports, there are hotshot players that thing the whole game is about them. Everyone else is just an obstacle.
My proposed solution for getting angry at traffic? Replace anger with empathy and wish peace upon the offensive driver. It shouldn’t be hard to visualize the irritation and frustration a crazy driver is feeling. As angry as you are that there is a driver weaving through traffic, that driver is as angry that traffic is too slow. As angry as you are that someone is tailgating you, the tailgater is just as angry that you are in their way. Does that make the behavior any better? Of course not. But, once you see things from your perspective, you are able to visualize a calming scenario on their behalf.
You can’t know why a person is driving so aggressively. Are they late? Are they angry at a situation they’ve just left? Are they in a reckless mood? In any case, they are being selfish and inconsiderate. Also, in any case, it is not going to help at all if you project further anger towards them. You should instead send messages of calm and understanding. Something akin to “I hope that you get to your destination on time and safely so that you no longer feel stressed while driving.” Or “I hope that you will find a place in traffic where you can relax.”
This is another daily challenge, at least on weekdays. It’s not so much that I get angry at coworkers, it’s just small annoyances that get to me. There is also a need to get these frustrations out through gossip and behind-the-back conversations. These are not fair to the person being discussed, nor are they conducive to a healthy workplace.
Many advice articles say that you need to address these annoyances directly, to go up to the person and air your grievances. Being non-confrontational, that doesn’t work for me. But at the same time, I can’t let them simmer inside, either. So my solution is to turn the annoyance into a question. By questioning the behavior, you aren’t immediately judging it as wrong, instead you are trying to understand why it is happening. Surely, it is happening for a reason, and the chances of it happening for a malicious reason are generally slim.
So instead of, “I can’t stand it when he taps his foot against the desk,” it becomes “why does he tap his foot against the desk?” The consideration of all the possibilities, from serious, to humorous, to absurd, can lighten the mood and change your perception. It doesn’t have to be habits or unconscious behaviors that are annoying, it could be personality or even competence. Not “She is so stupid,” instead “Why doesn’t she understand budgeting?” The analysis and thought exercise might bring up some specific answers and provide ways for you to train or educate her.