A Hindu saint who was visiting the river Ganges to take a bath found a group of family members on the banks shouting in anger at each other. He turned to his disciples, smiled and asked. “Why do people shout in anger at each other?”
The disciples thought for a while, and one of them said, “Because when we lose our calm, we shout.” “But, why should you shout when the other person is just next to you? You can as well tell him what you have to say in a soft manner” asked the saint.
The disciples offered up other answers but none satisfied the other disciples. Finally the saint explained, “When two people are angry at each other, their hearts become distant. To cover that distance they must shout to be able to hear each other. The angrier they are, the stronger they will have to shout to hear each other in order to cover that great distance.”
“What happens when two people fall in love?” asked one disciple. “They don’t shout at each other but talk softly, because their hearts are very close. The distance between them is either non-existent or very small…” The saint continued, “When they love each other even more, what happens? They do not speak, only whisper and they get even closer to each other in their love. Finally they even need not whisper, they only look at each other and that’s all. That is how close two people are when they love each other.” He looked at his disciples and said. “So when you argue, do not let your hearts get distant. Do not say words that distance each other more, or else there will come a day when the distance is so great that you will not find the path to return.”
This metaphor isn’t telling us that we should not be angry or that anger is bad. What it is saying is that anger can be expressed inappropriately and as a result can create distance between two people. In this illustration that distance resulted in shouting in an effort to close the gap. But anger can also be expressed through silence, sarcasm, name calling, withholding affection or needs, or getting physically aggressive. All of these will most likely build walls that separate the two of you as well.
The fact is, anger is a flashy cover for another feeling or feelings that you haven’t expressed. Are you disappointed because someone didn’t follow through on a promise, or frustrated because you have tried repeatedly to get your point across to another person and they refuse to listen. Or possibly you are annoyed by someone’s behavior and you just want it to stop. Whatever the feeling, it is best to express that one word in a respectful manner at a time when the other person is open to listening. This way you can begin to build or maintain that relationship bridge instead of building walls that you need to shout through to be heard.