I hold the belief “Behind all anger is sadness.” As I find some one else’s sadness much easier to connect with than anger, this belief helps pique my curiosity as to what needs someone might be in touch with when they are angry. It helps me remember that this is a human being who is suffering.
A phrase that I go to often when I find myself annoyed/frustrated/angry with others is “This is a human being with needs and feelings.” For example, when on the freeway and someone merges in front of me closer than I would prefer and I start to feel angry and in touch with my need for safety, I remind myself “This is a human being with needs and feelings.” This helps break habitual patterns and re-humanize the Other. This person might be speeding and making frequent lane changes because they are trying to get to work on time – i.e. feeling anxious and tired and in touch with their needs of ease and security (don’t want to get yelled at by their boss and fear being late might negatively impact their job situation).
At the same time, I take time to recognize that anger is valid. My anger is valid. Your anger is valid. Anger is a clear red flag and indicator that our needs are not being spoken to. It’s okay to be angry. Conflict arises when the strategies we use to express our anger are not in harmony with the needs of those around us.
These two phrases, “Behind all anger is sadness” and “This is a human being with needs and feelings” really help me to remain compassionate in trying situations. I hope reading this has contributed to your well-being and ability to remain compassionate in trying situations.