Ask NWC Counseling: Who should be angry?

(Photo by Growley-Ferret)

Back Story:
The reader explains that someone offended them by their words and/or actions. The reader felt angry towards the offending person, however was told that they should not allow themselves to be angry and if they do become angry they are in the wrong.

Question: Why isn't the offending person responsible for my feelings or emotions in response to their actions?

If someone offends you then you have right to take action. It's important to take action to A.) Let the offender know that their action and/or words have hurt you in some way. Great time to use your 'assertive' communication skills to share with them how they have hurt you.

Let's use an example: Your at the office and one of your co-workers makes a joke about a serious disorder. You find this extremely offensive as someone you care about struggles with this serious disorder. Assertively, you would find an appropiate time (NOT in front of others and NOT while highly emotional) to express that you felt [enter emotion here] because [enter reason here]. Then you allow the other person to respond. THIS IS VERY IMPORTANT. Many times because we are running high on emotion we do not give others a chance to respond to our action.

B.) You react appropriately. This is how you respond. If after you have assertively expressed your concern the other person says 'Well, I'm very sorry, I didn't know that your cousin was bi-polar'.  Then YOU should not continue to be angry and forgive them for the ignorance. However if the person says 'Well, it's just a joke calm down' or 'That's how I feel so you need to get over yourself'. You should NOT continue to be angry as well. SAY WHAT? Well it's natural to feel angry and/or frustrated when someone offends you, and does not acknowledge or validate your thoughts, however you should not REACT to your anger. Reacting based on your emotion can cause a temporary 'satisfied' feeling, however it also can lead to more problems and cause aggressive behavior. Meaning you still will NOT solve the problem.

If that person is continuing to be offensive and you assertively communicate to them, there is really nothing left you can do about it. Honestly, the person is just a jerk and is probably offending you because they don't care or they KNOW it gets a rise out of you (more so the latter). Learning to control your anger and reactions will not only build your character, but after a while, the offender person will look ridiculous because it will be obvious they are immature.

But I'm being walked over!  But your really not. If you are being passive and not standing up for yourself in a mature assertive fashion, then you are being a doormat. However, if you have addressed the issue assertively and the other person is not responding, you ultimately are in control of your next move. So if the 'ball' is in your court, then you are responsible for your actions at this point. If you CHOOSE to react immaturely by aggressively attacking the person and/or holding onto the grudge then YOU are allowing yourself to react angrily. In the words of one of my co-workers 'Who's character are you trying to build, yours or theirs?"


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