Disagreements inevitably arise when we are least prepared. Anything may trigger them to arise. But are disagreements truly grounds for you to choose to cultivate an attitude of lasting resentment?
It can start as a simple observation or comment, which can then escalate into an intense dialog and an exploration of unique life experiences, opinions, heated passions, and personal values. At some point in your exploration with another, you will notice that the two of you are on completely different pages, in entirely different books.
You may not notice how much another person’s experience or opinion is tied into their own personal sense of self worth, identity, and value. Somewhere past the point of your oversight, a disagreement over any number of issues, experiences, or values may arise, turning a delightful conversation into a catastrophic disaster.
Here are some all too familiar examples of lead-ins to a potential disagreement:
“Who are you voting for?”
“How about those bathrooms?”
“Do you like Crossfit?”
“Are you Christian, Hindu, or Muslim?”
“Are you Libertarian or Socialist?”
As you can imagine, the opportunities for disagreement over issues and things are basically endless.
When you make an attempt to apply mindfulness to a person you disagree with, you may begin to appreciate a few things about them and their position which you didn’t before. Actively trying to do this helps disarm any negative feelings you may develop about the disagreement, preventing you from becoming angry or nursing any feelings of resentment.
For example, being truly honest is really hard for a lot of people. On these grounds alone you can choose to take delight at the discovery that someone does not agree with you, because they are being personally vulnerable with you by exposing their own stance or position on whatever it is you are in disagreement over.
Instead of feeling antagonized, treasure this moment as a silent expression of a desire for mutual understanding over something that truly matters a great deal to them. Carrying that awareness with you when you begin to sense anger or resentment forming will likely help you form a clear communication tactic, rather than playing along and becoming triggered by what may come out of their mouth next.
I cannot imagine many people planning to get angry over things – getting angry usually happens when a person loses control. When being mindful, it is important to maintain a connection with the other person, and seek to understand why there is anger to begin with.
You can begin by asking yourself why you’re becoming angry. Take some time to examine your anger and analyse your own relationship to it, if you can catch it while it is happening.
Perhaps our yogic goal is to ultimately eradicate anger – but until that actually happens, it helps to employ the most basic mindfulness practices when trying to understand anger. Anger is a primal mechanism that can grow stronger in expression through unchecked, indulgent habituation over long durations of time.
People from young ages cultivate a unique capacity for anger, and an equally unique relationship to anger. People also possess a personal style of how they express it to others. When employing mindfulness, remember that anger is a superficial crisis response to establish emergency boundaries with other people, so that one’s own needs are met in their perceived pursuit of security or survival.
Anger often arises in conjunction with thoughts of self preservation, and emerges as a last ditch effort to communicate a sense of violation, threaten opposition, or signify the infliction of deep hurt. In that regard it can be seen to function as something of an awkward ambassador.
You may feel a sense of betrayal before you rise to anger, or you may experience the fear of being devalued or assaulted while allowing yourself to be vulnerable. Either way, a severing of connection with the other person occurs while someone becomes angry, after which communication becomes far more difficult.
When someone practicing mindfulness becomes compromised by anger, it is in their best to retreat from the disagreement and find a place to simmer down. Once your anger has dissolved, you can then consider when it would be a good time to communicate effectively with them about the issue.
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