How to Avoid Being Hooked by Irrational Anger
A Seemingly Unsolvable Problem
What can you do when someone you know is especially intent on being angry, contentious and irrational? Your first reaction may be to try to smooth things over or offer alternatives. Maybe this will work. But what if it doesn't? What if your acquaintance continues to play the victim and seek disruption regardless of any truly sincere attempts you or others may make to pour oil on the waters and facilitate resolution?
Burning Up the Past for Drama in the Present
Don't Get Hooked!
It is important to realize when this happens that your acquaintance* is attempting to "hook" you. People who refuse to be mollified, who continue to find offense and seek martyrdom no matter what is done to assuage them, are simply attempting to engage playmates in a manipulative game. This is especially true in the case of extenuating circumstances such as problems with addiction, illness, or personality disorders. This is unlikely to be a conscious decision on the part of the person in question. This kind of behavior is usually motivated by an underlying desire to avoid confronting real issues. If the person is able to keep false issues stirred up, real issues can remain masked.
Cool the Flames
How can you deal with this? If you continue to react, you are hooked, and you are being played. So what can you do? While it may be tempting to become angry and tell your acquaintance to take a long walk off a short pier, understand that this is just playing into their hands. You are still reacting.
It is in your best interest and theirs, to avoid reacting and choose responding instead. It may be necessary to make a short, unemotional statement regarding your unwillingness to play or be played and then simply step aside - or sidestep - if you will. Do not turn your back. Do not walk away. Simply protect yourself. Stand out of reach of the flames until they die down. Make it clear that you are available to provide genuine assistance when your acquaintance is ready to ask for it but not to provide a whipping post or to validate invalid anger, blame and accusation.
When Professional Help is Needed
Call for Help if You Need To!
Of course, sometimes the flames never die down, and it becomes apparent that a person may be a danger to himself and others. When this happens, you have no choice but to call in professional help. You will feel more sure in your decision if you have been able to step aside and avoid being sucked into a manipulative blame game. By remaining objective you can be more genuinely helpful than if you allowed yourself to be sucked into the habitual or chronic anger or victimhood of another.
* Please note that I am using the term "acquaintance" to mean anyone you might know. This term is not intended to indicate the depth or type of relationship under consideration.
Copyright: SuzanneBennett: May 13, 2009
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