Reduce anger by cultivating empathy

Reduce anger by cultivating empathy

Reduce anger by cultivating empathy

Last update: 26 November 2015

Anger is a generalized problem that everyone has experienced at least once in their life. Managing it is a very complex skill that is good to work on. However, today we will not talk about how to manage anger, but how to reduce it, through the development of another fundamental skill: empathy. The latter is essential for reducing the intensity and frequency of anger attacks.

People with severe anger problems find it difficult to conceive of empathy and forgiveness. Nonetheless, empathy is a skill that can be developed and cultivated over time. In part, it is unconscious and automatic, but it can also be a conscious choice developed with practice.

Conscious empathy

The ability to feel empathy begins at the unconscious level. However, it is possible to develop it as a conscious skill when a person is able to understand the feelings and intentions of another individual. The brain can be trained and be more empathetic with a little conscious effort and practice.

For the development of empathy, the past experiences of the person in front of you are an important help which foments profound knowledge, understanding of the other's inner world and their emotional state.

When someone cries, they might think about their situation and the things that make them feel sad. When you feel the pain of him, you too feel sad. Each person's experience is unique, so trying to assimilate it to one's own is not enough: the other may be sad for various reasons that you do not understand or do not know.

Free yourself to feel empathy

To be empathetic, it is necessary to air our prejudices. In order to assess the other person's pain, you need to know her life, listen to what she has to say, feel his feelings about her, and maintain full attention during the conversation.

Once the person opens up, you may be able to know exactly what causes them suffering. This type of empathy requires a special connection, a channel which, at times, is difficult to open, but which becomes easier with practice.

In that context, it is important to understand that empathy also involves understanding thoughts and actions, not just emotions. To be empathetic, you need to go beyond feelings and understand the other person's way of thinking, intentions, and perception about the world.

This is what is called "empathic concern"; empathic people also tend to show greater empathic concern for others.

If you are angry with someone and want to reduce the intensity of the anger, it is necessary that develop both of these skills: empathy and empathic concern.

Empathy reduces anger, since it eliminates negative judgments. Empathic worry also reduces anger, because, in response to it, the needs of the other are considered, which helps to reduce the visceral reactions that characterize anger attacks.

Understanding the other

Empathy is a skill that can be developed and improved. When you succeed, you gain a better understanding of the other's inner world. Thanks to empathy, it is possible to reduce anger, because the sensitivity towards the difficulties, problems and circumstances of others increases.

There is also a negative correlation between anger and empathy: anger tends to reduce the capacity for empathy. However, if you show empathy towards the other, it is very likely that you will not get angry with him / her. In this way, empathy tends to inhibit anger and aggression and facilitate understanding, finding coherence in the behavior of others.

Consistency? That's right. It has nothing to do with justification, but with understanding the reasons for a particular behavior. For example, understanding the stimuli that motivate an assault can help prevent it from happening again.

The ability to calm down

It must be considered that anger hinders people's ability to calm down; calm is crucial for empathy, in order to truly understand the thoughts, feelings and intentions of the other. In this way, by showing empathy towards others, violent reactions can be reduced.

When a person is angry and heart-pounding, it is difficult to consider the thoughts, feelings and emotions of others. This, in turn, intensifies anger and facilitates prejudice, in such a way that all the actions of the other are misunderstood and viewed negatively. It is for this reason that it is important to also work on these “buckled labels” and on objectivity to cultivate empathy and empathic concern.

Furious people tend to increase their hostility, because they feel a desire to chastise those who have angered them. Instead of trying to console each other, they show anger and aggression and want revenge, which interferes with empathic worry. We remember that there are people who use the manifestation of anger as a tool to avoid feeling sad because of another person's pain.

Differences in reactions

There are differences in the way anger provocations are dealt with. Some people have a greater ability to handle the anger of others, because they perceive their pain, shame, guilt, sadness, loneliness and fears better.

They are able to put themselves in their shoes, understand their perspective, control their reactions and be empathic with angry individuals. They know how to relate better to them and they know how to get along with them.

However, there are other people who internalize anger more, who tend to distance themselves from what is unpleasant to them, who inhibit the expression of feelings and, therefore, avoid assertive communication.

A solution to reduce anger

Once developed the ability to understand the pain and dynamics of the anger of others, it is easier to deal with the anger reaction and accept it.

Being defensive and justifying anger can be counterproductive and doesn't make you an empathic person. Try to listen to the feelings of others and show sensitivity towards them to develop empathy and empathic concern.

Life is too short to waste it by constantly being angry or irritated. Revenge and pride lead nowhere. To be able to control anger in such circumstances, you must develop the skills necessary to treat others as is right.

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