Getting over it

July 4, 2011 § 2 Comments

Two people in a heated argument about religion...

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In the last post I said that I’d try to explain how I dismiss things that get me angry, that is, how I “get over it.” I put those last words in quotation marks because they remind me of a story. I had a friend who was a psychotherapist. From time to time when we were out he’d tell me stories from his practice, of course never with any identifying information about the patient he was discussing.

Once, after he related what to me seemed a really unbelievable story about a patient, I said, “God, Jerry, don’t you sometimes want to just grab these people and really shake them and scream ‘Get over it!'” He smiled and said, “No, never. That’s why I’m the psychoanalyst and you’re not.”

Well, of course I understood him, but I thought then, and still do, that “get over it” can be a very productive way of dealing with our anger (and other things we’re not talking about just yet).

The first thing to ask yourself about an incident that makes you angry is “Is there anything I can do about it?” And you need to answer that question within reason. Sure, if someone cuts you off in a car, I guess you could easily enough just smash into his car with yours. Let’s not even talk about the consequences of that angry act but admit that unless we’re seriously mentally ill, that’s not an option. Truly, there’s nothing you can reasonably do to “get even” with the other driver. And of course getting even doesn’t really mean anything either. Maybe you’ll be exacting revenge, but that’s not going to make up for anything. What happened to you happened, and you just need to accept it and realize a couple of things:

  • Other than causing a dose of adrenaline to shoot through your system, and maybe getting scared for a moment, nothing happened to you
  • There’s nothing you can reasonably do about what happened anyway.
  • And the longer you stay angry, the shorter the period of contentment and happiness you’ll experience that day.

I just read that Ralph Waldo Emerson said: “For every minute you are angry you lose sixty seconds of happiness.” And if you are focused on trying to bring contentment and happiness and peace into your life, you realize that every sixty seconds is important.

I know that the kind of thing we’re talking about now, that is, getting upset about another driver is no big deal. Nevertheless, we’ve all both experienced in ourselves and have seen in others how angry a small incident like this can make us. It’s just not worth it. So the next time something like this happens, as soon as you feel your anger, just try to remember that it’s really meaningless. I also find that if I shake my head with a smile (and the smile is important) and say something like “boy, what a jerk,” I can get over it really easily.

In the next post I’ll speak about something lighter than anger over a driver for a nice rest before going on to even more serious things that often blunt our contentment with our lives.


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§ 2 Responses to Getting over it

  • Elizabeth says:

    I just came across this quote and thought….how apropos!

    Whenever you are angry, be assured that it is not only a present evil, but that you have increased a habit. – Epictetus (55-135AD) Greek phrygian philosopher

  • Living Contentedly says:

    I never thought about that, but reading the quote made me think that anger can indeed be a habit. Getting angry at times is certainly a very natural thing to do. I’ve never known anyone who didn’t get angry. But sometimes we run into people who seem to be angry all the time, get upset about the smallest, most inconsequential things. Maybe for people like that it is habit to some degree.

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