What to Do When You Live with Angry People: 7 Gentle Tips

This is the last part of my five-part anger series, sharing my history with anger, how I have consciously decided to let go of it, along with tips on how you can overcome anger as well.

  1. My History with Anger and How I Decided to Let Go of It, Part 1: Growing Up in a Household of Anger
  2. My History with Anger and How I Decided to Let Go of It, Part 2: The Damaging Effects of Anger
  3. My History with Anger and How I Decided to Let Go of It, Part 3: Healing From My Anger
  4. How To Deal with Anger: Your Gentle Guide to Removing Anger for Life
  5. What to Do When You Live with Angry People: 7 Tips

Distant mother

Note from Celes: Today’s piece on handling angry family members is a long overdue segment in my anger series from Nov last year. I had been holding back on writing this as I wanted to crack the issue wide open first; I believe I have since done so. If you live in an angry household, I hope you will find this piece helpful. Good luck. :)

Last year, I wrote about being brought up in an angry household in my how-to-overcome-anger-series. While I have overcome anger on a personal level, I continue to live in that same angry household today, comprising of my mom, dad, and my brother.

My mother used to be the most volatile of the family; it has since switched to my brother with the mellowing of my parents following old age. Just last Sunday, he threw into a rage because I had mistakenly threw out his protein powder (I thought it was my raw protein powder which is due to expire next month). When I tried to remedy the situation by offering to pay, he refused to respond and fumed in silence, leaving me with nothing to do but to exit the situation.

It’s not easy living with angry people. Every other day, my family members can be heard shouting at or arguing with one another in our living room. My boyfriend, who is currently staying with me, got a taste of the angry environment I have been immersed in when my mom and brother erupted in anger at me over the protein-powder issue. I was in my room with him then when it unfolded; my mom violently knocked on my bedroom door and demanded that I get out right away to clarify on the issue while my brother shouted at me irately upon seeing me, his face filled with absolute rage. While I did not ask my boyfriend how he felt, he was definitely taken aback by how volatile and abrasive my family can be.

I’m 28 going 29 in a week’s time (those of you in SG, join me in the upcoming PE readers meetup on 23rd), which means I’ve been living with angry people for almost three decades. I’ll be honest — there had been times when I wished I was not living with my family. I mean, who enjoys returning to a home where people are shouting all the time? I know I don’t. I know I prefer being in a harmonious environment where people are happy and showing love to each other all the time.

However, the fact is my parents and my brother are my family and they will always be. Over the years, I have learned to handle their anger; in fact, lately I have been successfully furthering our relationships in spite of their anger issues.

If you are living with angry family members–be it your dad, mom, brother, sister, in-laws, or even children–here are seven helpful tips to handle them. Note these tips will apply to dealing with angry people in general too, not just family members.

1. Pick your battles

Perhaps your family members may pick a fight over the littlest of things. Perhaps they may be overwhelmingly rude even when you have done nothing wrong.

Pick your battles–choose the disputes you want to engage in. You don’t want to spend your days embroiled in anger with your family members because it would be a waste of your time and energy. Also, by picking your battles, they will take you more seriously when you do make yourself heard in an argument.

For example, I don’t engage in fights with my dad/mom/brother normally. My parents like to nip at me for not closing my bedroom windows or not locking the metal gate of my home before I leave the house, and I stay out of these arguments because they are trivialities. I merely make a mental note to do these acts next time so they would stop nagging at me.

However, I do take a stance when the topic of contestion is about something I’m passionate about. There was a period (several years in fact) when my brother insulted my diet choice (vegetarianism). After years of turning a deaf ear to his insults, I finally told him off one day because he crossed the line in his insults. I told him that he was being incredibly disrespectful and pointed out that just like I had never imposed my dietary beliefs onto him nor criticized his diet, I would expect the same courtesy to be extended to me too. Surprised by my response because I rarely lose my top in the household, he never broached the topic surrounding my diet again.

2. Pick opportune times to talk to them

Catch your family members at the right moment when they are not irritable or pre-occupied. People tend to be more short-tempered when they are busy with other things. By avoiding them during these times, you can avoid unnecessary conflicts. On the other hand, identify times when they are receptive, then catch them during these times so you can elicit the best responses.

For example, I have learned not to approach my mom when she gets back home from work every day. Why? Because that is when she is busy with household chores (like cooking and laundry) and is highly irritable. To speak to her during this time would mean having my head bitten off.

On the other hand, my mom becomes much calmer after she completes her to-dos and winds down for the day, since she is not weighed down by the pressure of having to complete housework by a certain time. This makes it the most opportune time to speak with her. Whenever I speak to her during this time, she is much more responsive, positive, and even helpful.

3. Shield yourself from their anger

Blowing a soap bubble

Shielding is a simple technique involving Reiki (energy) which will protect you from negative energy; I use it whenever I want to protect myself from a highly low-consciousness and negative individual. I have used it before when with my family members and the shield keeps me safe from their volatile outbursts.

Here are two exercises to create a shield; either exercise will work perfectly.

Method #1: Energy Ball

  1. Close your eyes and meditate for a few minutes. This will help you clear your mind as you create your shield. Read: How To Meditate In 5 Simple Steps
  2. Visualize a small energy ball forming inside of your chest. This energy ball is filled with extremely powerful essence that has the ability to ward off and protect you from any negative or abrasive entity.
  3. Now, visualize this energy ball expanding to envelope you. First it grows to the size of the fist. Then, it expands to the size of a basketball. And then, it expands to twice of that size. As it grows in size, its outer layer becomes thicker and harder, as if its an inpenetrable shield.
  4. Within a few minutes, the bubble has now expanded to surround your entire body. It now circles you as a powerful defense tool. Your shield formation is now complete.

Method #2: Drawing

  1. Close your eyes and meditate for a few minutes. Read: How To Meditate In 5 Simple Steps
  2. Concentrate on your finger tip. Imagine there is an incredibly powerful essence oozing from finger tip. This essence has the ability to repel any negative energy.
  3. Now, with the essence from your finger tip, draw a large circle around your entire physical body. Visualize the essence locking into position around your body as your shield.
  4. Once you are done, bask in the fortitude of your newly-minted shield. Your shield formation is now complete.

With your shield, you are safe from any negative energy. In the event someone hurls anger at you, visualize this anger bouncing off the surface of your shield and right back at the sender.

Your shield can effectively last for a day, or several days if you have generated a strong shield. Simply repeat any of the two shield-creation exercises above if you feel your shield strength is waning.

4. Understand why they are angry

No matter how irate your father/mother/sibling/in-law/child may be, there is a reason behind his/her anger. This reason may or may not have anything to do with you; either way it doesn’t matter as the intention of knowing the reason is not to finger point or fault blame. By knowing why your family member is angry, it will help you to understand him/her better, which will help you to (a) avoid similar conflicts in the future and even (b) cultivate a better relationship with him/her.

For example, when I reflected on why my mom would be so irritable whenever she gets back home from work, I realized it is because she is trying to get housework done by a certain timeline. In her mind, she associates housework with being a good wife/mom. By not completing housework within her desired time, she probably links it to her failing in her role as a wife/mom. This would explain why she would be so irate when I spoke to her after her work in the past–she probably felt I was getting in her way of being a good wife/mom.

Another example—when I reflected on why my brother was so pissed at me for throwing out his protein powder, I realized it was because the protein powder probably represents many things to him—living healthier, being fitter, and looking good. Me throwing the powder out sent a huge jolt in his consciousness; in his mind, he probably felt that someone was threatening his goal of wanting to be healthier/fitter/more physically attractive, which then sent him in a huge rage. Factoring in the fact that both of us used to be mired with twisted relationships with food due to the way our parents raise us around food, I can absolutely understand why he got so angry.

Understanding the source of their anger has helped me to manage our relationships better. For example, now that I know my mom values her role as a wife/mom, I give her the space to live up to her responsibilities in that domain. I eat in where possible so she gets to cook for me (something she enjoys). I honor her position as a mom by being more respectful to her vs. snapping or ignoring her whenever she nags at me. As for my brother, now I know better than to throw things out in the house without checking with my parents/brother, even if I may think that they are mine.

5. Show them love; Speak in their language of love

In part two of my how-to-improve-your-relationship-with-your-parent series, I mentioned that my parents was resistant to my early attempts to improve our relationship. In the one time I tried to hug my mom a few years ago, she asked me what the **** I was doing and violently pushed me away. When I tried to further my communication with my dad and mom, my mom would snap back while my dad would give lackluster responses.

Seeing my actions unrequited disheartened me and made me hold back from improving our relationship. I subsequently continued to communicate with them in the same abrasive manner as in the past, since I felt that it didn’t matter whether I tried to be nice to them or not.

However, lately I have been observing my boyfriend’s interactions with my family. He is incredibly respectful to my mom and dad; in return they take to him very kindly. Having him around is like wedging a thick rubber cushion between knives; the knives are me and my family members, while he is the rubber ball. His presence has introduced a layer of softness in my family for sure.

When I reflected on why my parents have been receptive to his gestures of love but not mine, I realize it’s because I wasn’t speaking to my parents in their language of love before. Hugging and communication are my languages of love but they aren’t my parents’. On the other hand, my parents—who grew up under older Asian values—probably interpret love from a child as the child greeting his/her parents, the child inviting his/her parents to eat during meal times (a customary Asian practice), a child supporting his/her parents upon reaching adulthood (which I’m already doing), and so on.

So, I began to show love to my parents in ways they can understand. Instead of being irritable and defensive when they speak to me (which I used to do due to abrasive experiences compounded since young), I now listen to them with openness, or at least more openness than before. While I normally do not greet my parents (it’s simply not a habit in my household), now I greet them when I see them and ask them to eat during meal times.

My parents are definitely receiving this change with open arms. I can feel more positive energy in the family nowadays; my dad has been smiling more often while my mom has been more chatty than usual.

6. Use their anger to reflect on yourself

Quiet hallway

For years, I had thought that my mom was a volatile character with erratic anger outbursts. Whenever she gets back home from work, she would be irritable, ready to snap at anyone who gets in her way. When I try to start a conversation with her to know her better, she would react defensively, asking me why I’m so nosy or asking so many questions. When I tried to hug her before, she pushed me away instead of returning my hug as a loving mom would to her daughter.

For a long while, I couldn’t understand what her deal was. Why is she so volatile? Why is she so unreasonable, irritable, and unapproachable? What is wrong with her? I would ask myself.

However, I know that our relationships are mirrors to our souls. As Thomas Sprat puts it, “What you dislike in another take care to correct in yourself.” As much as my mom may be erratically angry, I know that it’s a reflection of erratic anger on my part towards her.

So I reflected on my behavior towards her. I realized that just as I have been saddened by how volatile she has been to me as my mom, she is probably saddened by how volatile I have been to her as a daughter. I would often snap at her when she tries to speak to me–ironically because she catches me at the inopportune times when I’m busy with work and need to concentrate. I would also react defensively whenever she cautions me about something out of good intentions, because I feel she is being naggy. I would also raise my voice or even shout angrily at her for no reason sometimes, because that’s simply the way we have been communicating with each other all these years. 

Rather than wish that she can stop acting in anger, I realized that I need to first stop acting in anger myself. Her anger towards me is merely a mirror of my anger towards her.

So now, I think twice before losing my cool in the family. When my mom speaks to me, I respond to her as who she is at that point in time, rather than react based on compounded emotions from the past (read: anger). When she (or anyone in the family for that matter) speaks to me angrily, I think about the times when I have been unreasonable and angry towards her, which then makes it easy for me to empathize.

7. Help them work through their anger

For the most conscious of individuals–help your family members to work through their anger. Bear in mind that this isn’t easy and is only for those of you who are conscious enough to look past personal grievances and remain grounded in the face of volatile emotions.

There was once when my mom went irate when I tried to speak to her. Knowing that this anger had nothing to do with me because I was merely trying to strike up a casual conversation, I asked calmly, “Why are you so angry?” She paused, for she was not aware that she had been shouting at me. She then became calmer, probably because she realized she was being out of line for losing her temper at me when I was doing nothing wrong.

There are times when I call my mom to update her on my dinner plans for the day, only to hear her shouting on the other end of the phone for reasons unrelated to me. Whenever that happens, I simply say, “Can you please calm down? I’m not trying to attack you; I’m only trying to tell you something.” Again, my response would take her by surprise because she is totally unconscious that she was irate, after which she becomes calmer and starts listening to what I have to say.

Simple steps to help someone work through his/her anger include bringing his/her anger to his/her awareness (like what I did with my mom in the two examples above), taking them to anger management classes, buying anger management materials for them, talking through their issues with them, and in an indirect way–extending love to them as per tip #5.

Be sure to ground and shield yourself when being around angry people. As you open yourself up by helping them, you want to make sure that you don’t get affected by their abrasive energy.

Final Words

This is the final part of my anger series. I started by sharing my personal history with anger (parts one and two) and how I overcame anger (part three). Then, I shared a guide on how you can remove anger for life (part four). Last but not least, I wrote a guide on how to deal with angry family members, which is the article you are reading now.

I hope you have found this series helpful; I have truly written it from my heart and soul. If you have any thoughts on what you want to see next on PE, let me know in the comments area! I look forward to hearing from you. :D

This is the last part of my five-part anger series, sharing my history with anger, how I have consciously decided to let go of it, along with tips on how you can overcome anger as well.

  1. My History with Anger and How I Decided to Let Go of It, Part 1: Growing Up in a Household of Anger
  2. My History with Anger and How I Decided to Let Go of It, Part 2: The Damaging Effects of Anger
  3. My History with Anger and How I Decided to Let Go of It, Part 3: Healing From My Anger
  4. How To Deal with Anger: Your Gentle Guide to Removing Anger for Life
  5. What to Do When You Live with Angry People: 7 Tips

Image: Distant mother,  BubbleQuiet hallway



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  • AaeKay

    My mother and I have anger issues with each other. I think your tips will help me live her more peacefully and not burst out when we see each other. Thank you very much Celes! Really appreciate this piece.

    • AaeKay

      live with* her.
      Sorry for the typo.

    • http://personalexcellence.co/ Celestine Chua

      Hi AaeKay, it is my absolute pleasure. I’m glad that you have found this piece helpful. Thanks for taking the time to share your comment! :)

  • Helen

    Hi Celes,

    Thank you so much for such an incredible and enlightening piece. I also live in an angry household as my dad can be hey volatile. He’ll explode over the smallest of things and swear and behave rudely and aggressively towards me and my mum and siblings.

    I love your shield idea Celes because I feel I have been very badly damaged by my dad’s behaviour. His constant nitpicking, anger and criticoism has really affected my self esteem.

    For this reason i began to feel like he didn’t deserve anything from me, and tried to disconnect from him emotionally. However,last night I tried again and wrote him a loving letter saying I was worried about him because he’s obviously an unhappy person. Hopefully this will give him the incentive to finally change!

    One question Celes: how should I react when he’s doing things like swearing at my mum? I can’t stand it. I understand being peaceful, but I’ll never put up with that!

    Helen

    • http://personalexcellence.co/ Celestine Chua

      Hey Helen, thanks so much for sharing your story. I think it’s so incredibly courageous of you to write a loving letter like that to him, especially given that he has treated you/the family so abrasively before! I believe this will be a seed of love which will be deeply implanted in his heart when he reads it. This seed will definitely blossom; it’s just a matter of time.

      Regarding when he loses his temper, that’s tricky because this is now a three-person situation. It depends on your personal values. Usually I stay out of my family disputes if they do not involve me, so as not to complicate things.

      However, to swear at someone else (a form of verbal abuse to me) is to violate the basic rule of human civility, so that’s a situation I would intervene. I would ask him why he’s swearing at your mom and prevent him from speaking to her until he has cooled down. I would also bring to attention the severity of his anger issues in a time when he is calmer (see #2 on opportune timing) and possibly enroll him in an anger management class (see #7).

      What do you think? Do you think those are things you can do when he does that again? What are some things you can do to mitigate the situation?

      • Helen

        Hi Celes,

        Thank you for your reply. I think it’s so lovely that you take the time to leave individual comments :).

        It may be early days, but oh my goodness the letter seems to have made a BIG impact. There were a few times tonight that fights could have broken out (definitely 50% my fault at least), but he managed to stay really calm. Even better, he asked me for help using his phone and we had a nice chat. The icing on the cake though was that while we were talking I told him that I felt he was not acknowledging my point of view, and he **apologised**! It’s like lines of communicaiton have been opened :).

        In terms of the swearing at my mum thing, this only seems to happen when she takes our side (as in mine and/or my siblings’) in an argument. He sees it as a huge betrayal as he feels like that parents should have an united front, while my mum won’t behave it his ideal wife role if she thinks he’s being unreasonable (especially now we’re all adults). Really, they only argue when we argue with dad.

        Therefore, if I don’t put my mum in a situation where she has to take sides then he won’t get angry at her. I need to practice your suggestions to avoid fights as much as possible, but if a fight does happen I should ensure that I don’t let my mum get involved, even if I want someone to back me up. I worry my dad feels ganged up against sometimes too, so this way he won’t feel isolated as well :).

        Wow Celes! It’s funny how asking the right questions can lead to such good revelations. Thanks again for all your help :)

  • Mikey

    Thank you for the tips shared here Celes. While I’ve never thought of my parents as angry people, we have issues in getting along that I feel these tips will improve upon. Thanks! :)

    • http://personalexcellence.co/ Celestine Chua

      Thanks so much Mikey! :) I’m glad you feel these tips will improve on your situation. Hope you are having a lovely month of June right now! :)

      • Mikey

        Yep it’s a good month. Hope the same for you as well!
        I miss the old emoticons and like button! The new system does make it better for communicating instead of just “like” though. :)

        • http://personalexcellence.co/ Celestine Chua

          Thanks Mikey! Yes it’s been a good month for me. :) Looking forward to the SG meetup this Sunday myself!

          I hear you regarding the old emotes! The issue was that the emote plugin wasn’t compatible with iPad and brought up some issues. And I thought it would be great to use Disqus, an external commenting system, to offload the server load.

          Great to hear that you are doing well! :) Hope to meet again the next time I’m in HK!

          • Mikey

            Hope the SG meetup went well – but I can only imagine it was. :)

            Disqus seems to be fine so far. Keyboard strokes will do the emoticons’ job!

            Hope to see you again in the future!

  • http://hackmyheart.com/ Alexa

    Celes, this is BRILLIANT! Like you, I live in a highly angry household. While my sister is mostly calm and understanding, I must admit we are all prone to anger at least sometimes here. When I was younger, my parents fought constantly; with age, my dad has mostly mellowed, but the occasional fight still breaks out.

    My mom and I have a tense relationship as well. We can’t seem to communicate without stepping on each other’s toes, to the point where I’m loathe to discuss anything too personal with her. When these conversations come about, it often ends up with us becoming upset. I feel like a disappointment in my mom’s eyes, while I think she’s afraid I’m setting myself up for a sad, difficult life.

    Your tips here are excellent. I still have to get better at choosing my battles (I tend to just “go off” when Iose my patience), but I’m at least pretty good at knowing when to approach my family. I’ve never gotten a shield to work for me, but I’m willing to try it again as I am deeply hurt by negative energy. I think I have an idea of why my mom is so angry (she lives vicariously through my sister and I, so that when we do something wrong or “wrong” she flips out).

    By reading this I realize I’ve been selfish; I’d avoid doing little things like making my bed despite my mom wanting me to, because I felt it was illogical to place such high importance on the task and thought she was encroaching on my personal space in my room. I haven’t wanted to change because I thought I was in the right, that in some small way I was saying, “Hey, I’m independent.” And maybe this is still something I need to get across to my mom in another way, but by not doing something simple like making my bed, I’m not showing her love in the way she wants to be shown.

    On reflecting on myself, I realize that I can be quite impatient and rude myself. I assume my mom will react negatively and I brace myself for it to the point I’m easily irritated. And finally, I think even just drawing attention to the fact someone is angry can be a great way to deal with them! When anger is a gut response, you might get angry before even realizing what you’re doing, and the reminder can be greatly helpful.

    Sorry for the essay here, Celes, but this hits so close to home for me that I felt I needed to share. =)

    PS: LOVE the Disqus comments! They remind me though that I also have them installed on my blog which has been abandoned for quite some time now (eek!), so it’s a good reminder I should attempt blogging once again!

    • Bob

      Hi Celes,
      I think that having someone who is neutral helps each person to step back (in the case on your boyfriend), especially if they approve and like both parties. A new respect in installed and relationships are rekindled because the third party introduces qualities that are reflected and respected in each other. Patterns previously set have been groved day after day, a new perspective allows fresh air and way of thinking, and each person relaxes a little more because they each feel recognised in their own way.

      • http://personalexcellence.co/ Celestine Chua

        Hey Bob, I hear you! You are entirely right about the role of the neutral party in helping the parties involved get an external perspective. I really felt this was the case with my boyfriend’s entrance into the family.

    • http://personalexcellence.co/ Celestine Chua

      Dearest Calae, thanks so much for your comment and sharing! Once again, I feel it takes much insight and self-reflection to arrive at the conclusions you shared in your comment, so kudos to you.

      If your mom is living vicariously through you and your sister, then a natural consequence would be her imposing many of her values and views on you. Helping her to come into her own through baby steps would help. Say, getting her to think about what she wants to do in life (a big step), getting her thinking about hobbies outside of the family and pursuing them, helping her form social circles outside of the family, and so on. These aren’t easy steps to execute, but they are good directions to work in.

      It’s good that you have worked out the “problem” areas you can act on. I found that when I improve my own behavior and attitude towards my mom, she automatically improves in her behavior/attitude towards me too (for example her erratic temper). I always find this to be the case for my other relationships too, which ties in to my point in the article about relationships being mirrors of us.

      Great to hear you are still around Alexa! I was wondering how things are going on your end, and so happy to hear from you and read your conscious, deep and insightful thoughts.

      • http://hackmyheart.com/ Calae

        Thank you, Celes! I have actually realized my mom doesn’t have much of the things you mentioned – her own hobbies, goals, and social circle – and that was one of the first things that made me begin seeing my mom differently. Yes, she’s angry, but who wouldn’t be in this case? She must be incredibly sad and lonely.

        It’s difficult trying to help her. When she discusses her ideas that she wish she could open a business, I try to be extremely positive and supportive and suggest some practical ways it could happen…but she seems to only see these ideas as a dream. The friends she has a few and far between, and she so often sees the negative in everything and everyone that she seems to complain and not want to be around them all that often! She does work in the garden quite a bit, which obviously counts as a hobby…but for the majority of the year when there’s no work to be done, she usually just spends her time watching TV or going shopping to avoid being in the house too long.

        It’s very hard, as someone trying to see the world positively, to constantly be around someone so negative. I try to help her see the bright side of things, but I truly believe she’s more content being down because she can “own” that feeling. I will keep trying, of course, but I’m not sure what else I can do. =(

        Thanks for the great response and advice, Celes! I really appreciate it. Don’t worry, I’m still quite active in reading your site, I just don’t always relate to what you’re writing about!

  • freespirit

    What happens if the angry person you are living with is you?

    • http://personalexcellence.co/ Celestine Chua

      Then parts one to four of the series would help.

  • Susan

    Celes, Your family sounds alot like what I grew up with. The environment caused me to adopt negative attitudes for many years. When I finally accepted that my mother would never change, but that I could change my views and well as how I act around her, my life was never the same. It is so much better now. One flash of inspiration plus practice and more practice makes for a better life. [You helped me with this during last year's positivity challenge. Thank You.]

  • http://www.ricocompagnie.com/ Rico Compagnie

    I don’t like to hang around with negative people. If it’s close family then it can be hard to live a joyous life. I try to control myself and change subjects, but it’s not always that easy.

    With friends it’s more easy. Just see them less. Don’t take initiative to meet. Go find new friends.

  • http://www.tameralay.com/ Tamera Lay

    This was a great article! I really loved it. Growing up, my Mom was a pretty angry person. When I got old enough, I realized that I was taking on some of her anger, because that’s all I knew. I made a very specific intention to change from that day forward and used her as an example of how I didn’t want to be. It took a lot of work, but she has actually been my biggest teacher on how to be happy.

  • Julie

    Hie,

    My dad used to be irritated when he had to live and wait for his wife to be ready. Now he’s learning to play piano he plays each time he is ready and it calms him down.

    & thanks for this interesting and consciouness raising article.

  • trina

    Hi celes. These articles are very helpful! One random question that does not relate to the article: i’ve been a vegan (mostly) for the past month, and i just purchased vegan protein powder…Do you only add it with smooties? Does vegan protein powder ever expire? …thanks.

  • Mark

    Great article…I will certainly refer to it. However, I do have one question.

    I’m currently sharing a place with my brother in order to help him out financially…at least temporarily. This is how it worked initially, but then I ran into employment issues and now I’m the one that needs help. This, I’m afraid, is probably the root of our current dilemma, but I will soon have my situation back on track.

    However, my brother, as I discovered, has deep rooted psychological and emotional issues due to a shared abusive upbringing. He claims that he has “forgiven” and moved on, but this is far from the truth, and unfortunately he has not forgiven anything…he is a very angry individual, and I feel that much of his anger could be because I have moved on and do not suffer from this nearly as badly as he does.

    However, my question here pertains to section 3, “Shield Yourself From Their Anger”, and the first suggestion is to briefly meditate and build up your resistance. However, how does one calmly meditate and focus on their “shield” when you have an angry individual bearing down on you 24″ from your face, screaming, yelling, and literally popping a vein? Closing one’s eyes to “meditate” at that moment might not be a good idea in front of an angry individual who has psychological issues.

    My strategy here has always been to leave the vicinity, which is what I practiced when my parents would do the same. I would simply put on my jacket and shoes, and go for a long walk. But sometimes the anger and verbal abuse sneaks up on you and catches you off-guard. What do you do then?

  • TNKate

    Hi Ceres,
    I know I’m late to the party. But I have a situation I’d like to present to you. First off, thank you for sharing all your wisdom here on this blog and I plan on participating in your “Be a better me in 30 days” activity.
    In short, my father was a horrible person. He was a psychopath, a liar, conman, and a criminal. He did awful things to the female children of our family. We were all brainwashed to his lies, making my mother’s life hell when she finally got custody of us. When he died in 2011, we all breathed a sigh of relief. How important do you think forgiveness to this awful man is while attempting to let go of some of the anger that I’ve been holding on to throughout my life? I’d always thought I was able to do this until the day of his funeral, until I saw the cult of personality he had built up around himself during our estrangement. He had picked up where we had last seen him, building up his life with lies and exaggerations, and mourners at his ceremony wept at his loss. I truly felt as if I were the only one who knew the awful person these people were mourning. How does one move beyond that, especially when he had such an impact on our (particularly mine, since I was the eldest) lives?
    Any advice. My forgiveness of him is something I can’t even stomach right now.

    • http://personalexcellence.co/ Celestine Chua

      Hi TNKate, I’m really sorry to hear about your situation and I’m happy that you have managed to get physical relief of this situation (but not that your dad has passed on). It sounds like the females of your family were truly put through an ordeal which some of you may still be living with today despite him no longer being around.

      The first thing that comes to mind is that (basing this off your description of your dad since I never knew him) it’s possible that others, besides your family, knew about the bad deeds that he did as well, and that they simply choose not to air dirty laundry. Just because no one spoke about this after his death doesn’t mean that no one else was negatively impacted by his misactions; it just means that perhaps people chose to forgive and move on, especially since he is already not of this world. I always believe that the truth will always reveal itself and people are more discerning than they may look. A man’s funeral is hardly the place to criticize him/her, and I doubt people who truly bore a grudge towards him (if there are any) would turn up at his funeral anyway.

      The second and most important thing I want to share is that since your dad has passed on, the topic of discussion is no longer about forgiveness between you and your dad, but about forgiveness for your own sake. Your dad has already passed on and it honestly wouldn’t matter to him whether you forgive him or not. (And assuming he was the man you described, he probably wouldn’t care whether you hate or forgive him even if he were still around anyway.)

      Whatever hatred you are carrying now doesn’t affect him even remotely, but it does carry a world of impact to you from what you have described. Is this hatred you want to carry around you for the rest of your life? What is the ideal state you see yourself in? These are questions to consider for yourself.

      In Be a Better Me in 30 Days Program, my 30-day character transformation program on my site, one of the underlying principles of the program is that our relationship with — even viewpoints of — other people is tied to our relationship with ourselves. (This is particularly so in the Day 18 task: Reflect on a Criticism and Day 22 task: Mirror an Annoyance.) When we are angry with others, it usually reflects anger within ourselves — perhaps even at ourselves — that we are unable to let go… yet. Perhaps the real question to consider here is, is there something you’re angry at yourself for from those past episodes? Is there something which you’re not letting yourself go for?

      To quote Lewis Smedes, “To forgive is to set a prisoner free and discover that the prisoner was you.”. I hope you’ll find this response helpful in some way; Be a Better Me in 30 Days Program, particularly the tasks for Day 18 and Day 22, will really help if you’re interested to dig deeper into your feelings/opinions about others, how they relate to yourself, and how to permanently let them go.

      The first four parts of the anger series will help too if you haven’t read them yet: http://personalexcellence.co/blog/anger/