Dealing With Angry People

Help for alcohol abuse addiction alcoholics who want to stay sober
Posts: 6
Joined: Fri Dec 22, 2006 1:40 am

Dealing With Angry People

Postby anokagrassland » Sat Sep 08, 2007 1:31 am

I don't feel like I've ever quite learned how to deal with angry people. I've always been a fairly quiet person. I'm 35 years old and can count on one hand the number of times I've heard my folks yell at each other.

I farm in Northern Nebraska. About 8 p this evening I had a neighbor call and start yelling and swearing at me because I had a bull out. My bull being out did not affect my neighbor in any manner. Did not affect his property in any manner that is. Obviously it caused him to explode.

Hanging up, telling him where to go and what to do there, and more all crossed my mind. Instead I thanked him for his call and that I appreciated it and I'd see what I could do about it. He seemed to calm down so I suppose I handled him correctly tonite.

That is how I have almost always dealt with angry and explosive people both in recovery and before. It ussually defuses them and avoids a more explosive argument but it doesn't defuse me. I don't like being yelled at. It leaves me in sort of state of shock for several hours.

There has been the occasional time in my life when I have told someone "f--k you!" I do believe there is a place for that.

When I was doing anger management counseling it was reccomended to deal with angry people in a polite manner. However I have experienced times with angry people when returning their anger with politeness only seems to fuel them more. There just seems to be a certain number of "mean" people in the wold looking for someone to lash out at. Obviously we don't let these people be close to us but it's impossible to avoid them entirely. Sometimes we just get ambushed by them. Friends and family and coworkers who normally behave, store clerks and even managers, service people, etc.

Anyway, I'd love to read others thoughts on dealing with angry/abusive people.

Thanks, -Chris

garden variety
Posts: 750
Joined: Fri Aug 04, 2006 7:39 pm

Postby garden variety » Tue Sep 11, 2007 7:13 am

Hi Chris,

This is a good topic. I always have to recognize anger in me before I figure out how to deal with it in other people. Because for some odd reason, I can get angry pretty easy if someone is angry with me and expressing it with angry words and actions.

So first, to deal with my anger, I have this question/answer thing I go through. I ask myself "Is my life being threatened - am I or my loved ones or my home in danger of being hurt or killed?" If the answer is "Yes" then it's OK for me to follow through with getting angry. If the answer is "no" which it is most of the time - I move to the next question.

Can the emotion of anger - the way I'm feeling now - be a impetus (boy now there's a word I needed to look up and I don't use it very often - but it works the best) - Can anger be an impetus for me to seek out the appropriate action to take that will bring about a resolution to the problem. This is for times when I'm feeling like I'm being taken advantage of. Like those times where the 12+12 says alcoholics don't have the dubious luxury of having "rightous indignation" - or a "right to be angry".

Believe it or not, the answer to that one can be "NO" also. Then if the answer to both questions is no, then it's the other person who has the problem with anger and not me. So asking these questions "disarms" me. Two "no's" means that anger is not the best or most effective "reaction" to life, so I use the magic of AA's "toolbox".

Now I don't know how to describe this tool that sneaked in there somehow, but it is one of the things that AA has given me that is probably the most valuable blessing I have. That is the "Gift of 10 seconds". Most of the time (not always), I find that I can put off a hasty or impulsive reaction for at least 10 seconds. That gives me time to look for a spiritual principle in my toolbox, or it gives me time to shoot off one of those "arrow prayers" to God as I understand Him.

So in dealing with an angry person, I often use the "arrow prayer" which is the spirtual principle behind step 11 which I call "contemplation". I'm seeking conscious contact with God as I understand Him - and I'm seeking "with haste". The "arrow prayer" gives me a little more time also. So I end up asking the question "How would a loving God want me to express myself?" Then it comes back to the spiritual principle in step 3 which I call "consent". My heart's desire is to learn how to react in a way that consents to the Direction and Care of God. I'm asking God to help me "conform" my will to His.

That usually results in thinking about another series of questions. "What can I do that will help this angry person?" "Is there a way that I can identify with this person?" "What can I say that will make the situation better for everyone involved including me?"

So after all these questions go on in my mind, I hope to start thinking in a way that is based on the solution, and not the problem. My reaction needs to be something that follows along the lines of "practicing these principles". Now, trust me, my reaction and response is meeting with no small amount of reluctance from my will. I don't want to do the next right thing and swallow my ego because this person is a jerk. But by this time, I have the ability to make a choice, and usually the right choice is opposite of what I want to do.

So if I'm finally in the right frame of mind, I bite my tongue and say something like this:

"I can tell you're upset. I think I know how you feel (or "I'd be upset too if it looked that way to me"). What do you need for me to do that will help?"

Now if I can pull this off 2 out of 10 times, I know that a miracle has happened and I'm making progress. There's a bonus point in here too - chances are I won't have to apologize for anything. That's about how it works out for me, 2 out of 10 times I'm able to react in a good way.

But I'm always "practicing" in hopes of making more progress. Maybe pretty soon I'll get up to 3 out of 10.

Return to “Help for those who want to stay sober”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 1 guest