Several years ago, I needed to pick up glasses from an optical dispensary desk. The open room was part of a larger space that included a busy reception area, doctors’ offices, and large glass cases of sample eyewear. There were many people waiting their turn in the small section in front of a counter where two workers were assisting customers.
A path cut across the dispensary’s portion of the room where the carpet was worn. I approached the area and stood in the high traffic path for a moment, until I noticed people walking directly toward me. Deciding I was in the way on this much-used path, I made one step into the crowd so the people on the path could move past me. Immediately, a women close by yelled so loudly that people in the crowd turned to look at her, “Hey! No cutting in line.”
Being an HSP, this rattled me to the bone.
We live in an angry world. People, afraid that something or someone is going to get the better of them, are lashing out at any perceived slight without restraint. And they are doing so with great intensity. Creating volatile situations.
As highly sensitive people, we abhor violence of any kind. The force with which angry people attack can throw us off balance and overwhelm our already stimulated nervous systems. Here are some ways that you can prepare for the inevitable.
Get Yourself into the Right Frame of Mind
You can’t avoid rageful people. There will always be rageaholics in our midst. But there are strategies that you can use to minimize their effect on you. If you are prepared, you can reduce their effect on your mind and body.
A calm state of mind and practice will satisfy this first component. Here are some articles that you might find useful in achieving that calm state of mind:
- Overstimulated Alarm System – Three Steps to Confronting Fear in the Everyday Life of an HSP
- Three Ways to Manage Sensory Overload for the HSP
- Stop Lashing Out – When Anger Wins, We All Lose
The second part of this formula is practice. As you deal with people using your strategy, you will become more proficient. There is no shortcut for experience. Remain patient, follow your plan, and it will get easier.
Determine if You are Dealing with Legitimate Anger or Lashing Out
There is a difference between someone becoming angry with you because of a legitimate cause and someone who is “dumping” on you their accumulated rage. Rageful people typically fall within this second description. If you are the target of misplaced anger in the form of rage, you must have a strategy to confront that danger.
Create an Effective Strategy
An effective strategy has some crucial elements: controlling your reaction and confronting the issue in a noninflammatory manner.
- Master Your Reaction: Get and stay calm. If you have previously created a tranquil state of mind, you’ll already be there. Pause to gather your thoughts before moving onto your response. Resist the impulse to mirror their rage.
- Face the Situation Directly but Without Hostility: Be assertive, but not aggressive in your manner of response. Speak firmly, but respectfully. Keep your voice low-key while stating your point. This in itself can trigger a de-escalation of the situation.
- Refuse to be Drawn into Fierce Conflict: If the rageful person continues on their destructive path, ask them to leave or leave yourself. Nothing can be gained from continuing to allow yourself to be raged at.
My strategy in the above situation was to pause for a moment as I calmed myself. This gave me the ability to look her directly in the eye and answer calmly but firmly, “I was simply getting out of the way. You’re still ahead of me.” To which she made no response.
In a perfect world, we would not have to be around rageaholics. Since this is impossible, our best defense is to have a strategy in place to deal with them. My hope is that the above advice will help you find peace with the rageful people you encounter.
Copyright 2021, Monica Nelson