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Showing posts from July, 2011

Anger

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Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves.
~ Matthew 7:15

Anger is taboo in our culture.

Unlike other negative emotions... sadness, fear, boredom... raw anger is socially proscribed and must be refined-- suppressed or “managed”-- before it is heard. We send angry children to their rooms and withdraw from angry friends or lovers until they “cool down”. We refuse to listen to an agitated roar until it subsides to a levelheaded whimper.

Because of our anxiety around anger, we fail to attend to the nuances of different situations that involve the expression of anger, and are not very nuanced in our reactions to it. When anger is expressed to us, we tend to hear it as expressed at us. When anger is expressed at us, we tend to experience it as an assault...

So anger generally elicits a defensive reaction that does not win the angry person our support or sympathy. Worse, it often elicits a counter-attack. This, I believe, is because …
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Unexpectedly, as I opened myself
to love, I was accepted.
~Chogyam Trungpa, The Perfect Love Poem

Conflict arises when two people want to be heard and neither is listening. There is disharmony, polarity, a split. This disharmony escalates into dissonance when, instead of taking turns being quiet and listening to each other, you raise the volume and take turns making speeches. You're caught in serial monologues that deepen the conflict and polarize you even more. Cacophony now threatens as you feel compelled to defend yourselves, firing arguments at each other like artillery in the hopes of quashing all resistance to being heard. Alas, you are perceived as the aggressor and defended against in turn... and on and on it goes. Like a war.

In order to resolve conflict nonviolently, monologue has to yield to dialogue, and self-promotion to vulnerability, that is, exposing one's inner world as opposed to imposing it on someone else. Nonviolent communication has been described as …