All parents have been there. It’s Saturday morning. You’ve got to go to the soccer/lacrosse/football game and there are no socks to be found. It’s especially bad if you’re a working parent and can’t get to the laundry during the week. So you say, with maybe a trace of anger in your voice, “How many times have I said to be ready BEFORE we leave the house.” Yes, this has happened to me frequently over the past 15 years. The difference is that now, I stop myself before I get mad.
And it may not be a missing sock, maybe it’s poster board, tights for ballet class. or costumes for school plays. Or maybe it’s not anger towards your children but a spouse, a co-worker, a neighbor, or your parents. You get the picture!
From the Buddhist point of view, anger is a form of suffering; because the angry individual suffers as well as his or her victims. Anger is like a poison. You need the antidote. Tibetan Buddhists practice the 12 antidotes to anger. Here are a few of my favorite antidotes to the poison of anger:
ANTIDOTE 1 – Patience
Patience is the most important antidote to anger. We all have ways to access patience. For some, it’s counting to 100. For others, it’s leaving the situation for a moment. Next time you feel anger, wait a moment before you say something you might regret.
ANTIDOTE 4 – Changing or Accepting
This is one of my favorites. If you can change the problem, what’s the use of being angry? If you cannot change the problem, then what’s the use of being angry? Can I change the sock situation? Absolutely! Can I change the weather for the game? No! So what’s the use of worrying and getting angry. Get rid of your expectations.
ANTIDOTE 5 – Realistic Analysis
Have a look at yourself. Are you part of the problem? We all make mistakes and get into bad habits. We often put blame where it’s not due, like being late and then blaming the bus when you miss it. As for the sock…yes I could do the laundry more often.
ANTIDOTE 11 – Body Language
Your body language can be part of the anger as well. If you are frowning and your fists are clenched, maybe you should open your hands and relax your facial muscles. The other person will pick up on that “language” change using their intuition. Buddhists believe that if you put your hands over your heart you can’t be angry.
ANTIDOTE 12 – Meditation
Lastly, meditation is the another way the Buddhists solve the problem of anger. I spend some time taking deep breaths. I breathe in peace and breath out anger. Not everyone has the time or interest in meditation. However, I think there are many different ways to clear your head of the negative thoughts. For me, it’s reading a good book. For someone else it may be a good run or workout. Cooking is another creative outlet. If you do meditate, think of compassion, love and forgiveness and this will help to make the feelings of anger go away.
I might add two things, empathy and awareness:
Empathy: How many times have you misplaced your keys, your purse, the important papers you were going to copy at the office? Did someone get mad at you for that? Did someone say, “Haven’t you done this too many times? Can’t you get your act together?” See yourself in their shoes, rather than be angry at your children for losing their socks. Try being sympathetic toward the person that you’re angry with.
Awareness: Realistically, you can’t say, “Now, I’m never going to be angry again.” Of course you are! But there are ways to solve the problems of anger before it gets out of control. Don’t be angry at yourself for being angry. Don’t be fearful. Be mindful. You need to understand where your anger comes from. Sometimes you attract what you need into your life. Awareness of your anger can be a great teacher about what’s not working in your life.
So the next time you start to feel angry or another negative emotion, think about these antidotes to anger and try to change! By the way, Oliver (#25) was wearing his father’s dress socks in the above picture. Did it matter? Not a bit!!
“I would not look upon anger as something foreign to me that I have to fight… I have to deal with my anger with care, with love, with tenderness, with nonviolence.”
~Thich Nhat Hanh
“Holding on to anger is like grasping a hot coal with the intent of throwing it
at someone else; you are the one who gets burned.”
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