A long time ago I learned a great tool for dealing with anger that’s really easy to remember. It was given to me by an old gambler on a warm summer’s eve, on a train bound for nowhere. Long story short he said, “For a taste of your whiskey I’ll give you some advice.” So when I handed him my bottle he said “If you’re gonna play the game, boy; you gotta learn to play it right. You’ve got to know when to hold’em. Know when to fold’em. Know when to walk away. And know when to run. You never count your money when you’re sittin’ at the table. There’ll be time enough for countin’ when the dealin’s done.” For the older crowd, you will likely have noticed that these were lyrics from The Gambler by Kenny Rogers. I enjoy listening to country music as much as I enjoy listening to babies cry… to be clear, I don’t enjoy hearing babies cry. I’m not a monster who takes pleasure in the pain of infants: (monster) “Cry, baby, cry!” When I was in elementary school I was forced to sing along to this song on a weekly basis, which was torture then but helpful now because this gives me a great breakdown of how to handle anger.
Hold’em: When we’re angry and/or with someone who’s angry, it’s often best to simply hold our tongue. There are times when nothing good is going to be added to the situation by us talking. If the other person is really angry anything we say will simply be fuel for the fire. If we’re really angry, the odds are against us that we will share it in a nice way that the other person will hear and want to follow. Talking when we’re angry usually just leads to more anger.
Fold’em: Sometimes it’s simply best to apologize and accept what the other person says. Even if the other person is wrong you’re often better off waiting until later to try correcting him or her. If people are angry, they’re being defensive; criticism and correction is only going to make things worse. No one yelling ever suddenly stops and says “Thank you for correcting me… now back to my yelling.”
Walk Away: Sometimes when we or the other person is angry it’s best to call a time out. As our anger increases, our intelligence drops. At a certain point we’re best off saying, “Time out; let’s take an hour break and come back to this when we’re calmer.” Taking a break is a great way to deescalate a fight, but it’s important to give a time frame so it doesn’t feel like one of you is hiding or abandoning the other.
Run: Sometimes we just need to run away from people because they’re not safe people. Sometimes our anger is a good indication that we need to end the relationship.
Never Count Your Money Sittin’ at the Table: When we’re angry it’s tempting to suddenly unload every little thing that bothers us about the other person. This, however, is the worst time to bring out the list of faults we’ve collected about the other person because mentioning it now isn’t going to lead to him or her changing; it’s going to lead him or her fighting back even harder.
When the dealin’s done: When we have a problem with someone and we should bring it up, we need to do it when things are calmer and the other person won’t be as defensive. Just be careful not to always have a complaint during the calm times or the other person will start to prevent there being any calmer times.
This week may you discover the joys of following Kenny Rogers’ advice because there are times when we need to hold’em and fold’em, walk away and run, and it’s always best to count our money when the dealin’s done.
Rev. Chad David,www.ChadDavid.ca, Learn to love dumb people