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Holy Water For Anger

Updated: May 12

Once upon a time, there was a couple who easily got angry at each other. They felt terrible after arguments, and they much rather preferred to have a harmonious relationship, but it's just so hard to not argue in the heat of the moment. One day, they decided to ask for help from the pastor at the local church.

 

The pastor told them, "Anger is a difficult foe to overcome, but perhaps I can help. I will give you some holy water. Every time you feel angry and want to argue, drink a mouthful. However, the water needs ten minutes to take effect, so don't speak until ten minutes later."


 

The couple thanked the pastor for his gift. The next time they got angry at each other and felt the urge to argue, they both drank a mouthful of the holy water and waited ten minutes. To their amazement, their anger was gone! They continued using the holy water for a while, until one day, it was all gone.

 

They then went back to the pastor to ask for more holy water. The pastor said, "Actually, what I gave you was regular water."

 

The couple was shocked and said, "Seriously? But our temper is terrible! How could normal water have such a magical effect?"

 

The pastor said, "That's because of the ten minutes of silence, as well as your belief in the water's power. Anger is a difficult foe to overcome, but it's only as difficult as you believe it to be."

 

Commentary

Of all the negative emotions, anger is one of the most harmful and most difficult to overcome. Anyone who has really tried to fix their anger knows it's not easy. But it's important to believe in yourself, that you can definitely overcome it. The moment we lose faith in ourselves is the moment we give up.

 

There are many different ways to extinguish and prevent anger, and I previously wrote about some in 10 Reasons We Get Angry and Their Solutions. This story gives another great method that is particularly useful in the heat of the moment, which is to exit the situation and take a break. Just as it's important to believe in ourselves, we also need to believe in the method we use. If we think the method won't be effective, then we won't try very sincerely, and then naturally, the method won't be very effective for us.

 


In the book Emotional Intelligence, author Daniel Goleman gives a similar suggestion as the pastor in the story. He explains that when people argue, their heart rate increases, meaning the body is entering a fight or flight response. When our heart rate increases by more than 10 beats per minute, it's called "emotional flooding", and we've lost our sense of logic and harmony at this point. He suggests people to take a 20 minute break to allow the body to return to a normal state. Although 5 minutes may feel enough, the actual physiological recovery time needed is 20 minutes.

 

From my experience, I realized that it's important to not keep thinking about the other person's wrong in our heads during the break. We should instead do other things and think about other things to help our mind and body calm down.  Once we calm down, we can view the situation much more logically and see things from their perspective.


Understanding is probably the best medicine to anger. We get angry because we think they shouldn't be this way. But when we understand others and their situation, we realize that they should indeed be this way. What's there to be angry about then?

 


Also, it's best if both people communicate beforehand that we should take a break if either person starts feeling angry. Otherwise, if you say, "I think we're starting to get angry; I want to take a break, " the other person might say, "No! I want to finish this talk first!"

 

But if you didn't communicate beforehand, there is another solution, which is to say, "I really need to use the bathroom right now." Then go take a break and calm down in the bathroom.

 

One more idea: During the break, try going to the local convenience store to buy a snack that the other person likes, and give that snack to them at the start of the next conversation. Oftentimes, we are angry because we think the other person doesn't care about us. When we give a gift to the other person, it shows that we do care about them, and they will soften up. Also, the act of giving a gift helps us to soften up.



Of course, once the conversation gets going, we need to truly try to understand the other person rather than demanding others to understand us. If we put our energy on understanding others, other anger will naturally fade, and we won't even demand them to understand us anymore. Once they feel understood by us, they will be touched, and naturally they will want to understand us back.


On the other hand, if we keep trying to explain ourselves because we want them to understand us first, then they will be frustrated because they want to be understood first too, and then the argument gets more and more heated. We can't control others, but we can control ourselves, and that ability is arguably one of the greatest gifts of life.

 

Ultimately, there are many different ways to deal with anger, and this is just one of many. Although the methods are many, the heart/intention is one: kindness and unselfishness. As long as we preserve a kind intention, we will definitely think up a suitable method to maintain harmony.


 

Weekly Wisdom #288

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