“Angry people must pay the penalty; if you rescue them, then you will have to do it again.” –Proverbs 19:19
Dealing with upset people is a drag. But there is such a simple solution to it that you might not even believe it. If you learn to practice the one simple solution to dealing with angry people, your time will open much wider; your own emotions will calm down a great deal; and, you may find the kind of peace and settled conviction that you long for.
You know the type. We have all dealt with them. That chronically upset relative or in-law who demands your time and attention; the insecure co-worker who is constantly chirping about something he does not like in the company; or, the cranky neighbor who only talks to you when something infringes on his person or property. These scenarios, and many more, you and I either have or will face.
I once was in a wedding in which a bridesmaid was constantly upset about something all throughout the rehearsal and into the wedding day. It got so bad that, just as we were about to walk down the aisle, she became agitated about something she did not like, and angrily stormed away.
What would you do in such a situation? What did I do? Absolutely nothing. I ignored her, told the rest of the wedding party to not follow her, and went about the ceremony. When she saw no one was going to rescue her, she was in line at the last minute to participate.
If there is a person in your life who has frequent emotional meltdowns about most anything, here is a wisdom principle that can change your life:
Angry people get upset because it works – they get their way. Someone will come to their rescue and fix their anger. But if you will practice the simple solution of letting them just be upset and stew in their own juices without coming to their aid to make it all better, they will eventually stop sucking your time and energy into their angry vortex.
The angry person is typically one with some sort of entitlement mentality. The bridesmaid didn’t like the way things were being done, and she felt “entitled” to have things go her way. She wasn’t used to accepting “no” like most other people have to do. She believed everyone else ought to adjust for her behavior.
The important point to note here is that it is not your job to fix their emotions; it isn’t your responsibility to smooth everything out so that everyone feels just fine and are calmed down. Instead, it is my job and your job to practice self-control and be responsible for our own emotional well-being. If you keep trying to calm an angry person and assuage their emotions to an even keel, you will have to do it again, and again, and again…. Until they figure out their anger doesn’t work, it just does not pay to be upset.
This means that, deep within your soul, you must move from the fear of negative emotions in others to positive possibilities in the right direction. Not everyone is going to like you, no matter how hard you try. Please understand that this does not mean we avoid helping others. It just means we don’t enable their bad behavior by solving their problems for them. We can walk beside them, encourage them, and teach them, but all without doing it for them.
Think about some ways you might deal with an angry person. What can you say to them that will be positive and helpful, yet not take ownership of their problem? Are you willing to be bold and tell them when they need to leave your office, home, etc.? Can you live with their negative response to you for having firm boundaries in your own life? How will you take charge of your own time without letting an angry person dictate how to use it?