Don’t Shoot the Messenger

20 Feb

You’ve heard the saying “Don’t Shoot the Messenger” before.  It means that you shouldn’t blame the bearer of bad news for the news that he/she is delivering.

So … what does that have to do with conflict?

I am going to draw the parallel to anger.

Anger is a messenger.

It may look or act like an isolated emotion that is the result of impulse, in the heat of passion.

And yet it’s a culmination of emotion. It’s a loud cry. It’s a call to action and a plea for justice.

I found a great definition of anger on this website:

Anger is an emotion, resulting from a perceived loss, attributed to a willful agent, and judged as unfair.

Anger is displayed in many ways.  Perhaps it’s shouting, arguing, cursing, and even violent behavior.

It is a reaction to a perceived loss … which can be an obvious loss (i.e. damage to property) or something more subtle (i.e. loss of face).

An important component is that the loss is attributable to a “willful agent.” It means that you feel that someone or something acted deliberately to hurt you.

And lastly, you feel that it’s unfair.

These are the ingredients to anger.

So, when this emotion bubbles up, think about answering the following questions:

  • What have I lost?
  • Why is it important to me?
  • Who or what do I feel is responsible?
  • And do I feel that it’s unfair.

Here’s an example.  I had surgery and I snapped at my caregiver. I realized that I’ve lost my independence, which makes me feel reliant.  My need for surgery is from an accident and I feel that being laid up for so long is unfair.

So, if you spend some time with your anger, you may find out what message it is trying to deliver to you.








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