You Can’t Always Tell

21 Jul

“I sat with my anger long enough until she told me her real name was grief.”  The Celtic Christian Tradition

I have dealt with many an angry person in my day.  One of the very first things that I always try to ask myself is, “What is the source of this person’s anger?”  It is only when I can accurately determine the source that I can begin to respond properly.  When some people appear angry, they might be hurt.  When others are angry, they might be in protective mode.  When still others are angry, they might really be depressed.  The list goes on and on.

Don’t get me wrong.  I’m not saying that those people are not really angry.  They are.  However, their anger is often housed in some other reality.  If you can’t figure out what is feeding that anger, you can’t be any good to them and/or give them any real help.

Another way to express the thought for today is “You can’t tell a book by its cover.”  One of the problems that we often encounter is that we do, indeed, judge someone.  If an angry person approaches us, what usually happens?  Almost immediately, the first step is to throw up our defenses.  Even physically, depending upon the level of anger, our bodies might be gearing up for a “fight or flight” response.  Adrenaline flows through our system.  We find ourselves becoming hyper-focused and ready to engage.

But someone coming to us angry might not want us to engage them, they might truly be seeking our help.  Their anger is getting in the way but they still have very valid needs and feelings.  When we can find out what those are, we have a better chance of helping them.

This holds for ourselves as well.  We might wake up some day on the wrong side of the bed.  We might snap at others and be, shall we say, unpleasant to all.  It would be good to take a little quiet time and ask ourselves why we are feeling the way that we do.  Go through the day before.  Did something happen?  Did someone say something that hurt or offended us?  Are our loved ones healthy?  Is something feeding an inner sadness or alarm and that is turning into anger or moodiness.

Determining the root cause of the emotion can direct how we approach ourselves or others.  That is why we should be slow to judge and, instead, try to understand the needs and the plight of the other person.

FAITH ACTION:  Don’t be too quick to judge others.  What they are going through might not be as apparent as you think.