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Grasping anger: what do you think?

By - Oct 25, 2016 - Category Practice - Print Print - Version française

Businessman with clenched fist on the desk at office

From mere annoyance to exasperation or fury, anger can express itself in many ways, and in all kinds of situations. Identifying anger within ourselves is generally an easy task, even though it sometimes takes subtle forms that can cloud our judgment. On the other hand, whatever form it takes, controlling it is always a different story. It is rather safe to state that this issue concerns, in one form or another, every one of us. We will thus dedicate several posts to examining it. This first one will allow us, on the basis of a scenario and a few questions, to start reflecting and to share our thoughts, experiences, suggestions, ideas and interrogations.


Scenario

Upon Jack’s request, his friend and colleague Peter agrees to help him on an urgent project. In order for all the work to be done in time, Peter spends several evening at work and has no choice but to cancel some long planned personal commitments. At the weekly staff meeting during which the progress of all projects is discussed with the rest of the staff, including their boss, Jack omits to mention Peter’s precious help. When Peter’s turn comes to present the progress of the projects he is in charge of, the floor is open to comments by everyone, and Jack shares a few criticisms. Peter cannot believe his ears. How can Jack do this to him? He can feel anger boiling up within, but refrains from saying anything during the meeting.

Once the meeting is over, he goes over to see Jack and tells him: “All this work I’ve done for you over the past 10 days and that’s how you thank me! I did everything for your project to be on schedule, I worked late every night, regardless of plans I had already made! Well, one thing is for sure, that’s never going to happen again! Next time you desperately need help, you can go find someone else!” Infuriated, Peter slams the door and walks away filled with rage. He knows for a fact that Jack will be needing his help again.

What do you think?


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Peter is obviously angry. On what basis can you assert this?

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On the substance of this case, do you think Peter is right to express his resentment?

3. Peter comes to you to talk about what happened and asks you how you would have reacted. What is your answer? What are your arguments? Have you ever been confronted to such a situation?

Share your thoughts in the comments section!


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67 comments

  1. AS Oct 25, 2016 5:43 pm 1

    This is great timing on the article, because I have been going through this same situation with a co-worker of mine. At times I have been very frustrated and angry and have even raised my voice about some situations at work where I have done almost all of the work and someone else is getting the credit or taking credit for everything. I have started to work on myself to control my anger and frustration and have recently been trying to practice prudence towards my co-worker. So, my suggestion to Peter would be to control his anger or frustration because it can easily lead to resentment, constant negative thoughts, and it would be very difficult to work with his colleague(s). He can express his emotions but in a professional manner and start practicing prudence towards his colleagues at work.

  2. mary Oct 25, 2016 6:10 pm 2

    I would be sympathetic and advise him that when he does a good deed he should not have any expectations of gratitude or reciprocation, he should do it simply because it will bring him closer to god. I would also suggest doing good to strangers from now on, which is what i have decided to do in my life. I love helping people but as I can not take their ingratitude and nastiness in return, I have made a decision to help strangers through charity work.

    1. A. Oct 27, 2016 6:10 am 2.1

      Interesting approach the idea of helping people through charity to avoid ingratitude. I have also done quite a bit of this myself (I mean working for charities). However, it has been my experience that you will not be able to escape being put to trail, or tested – if you will. This is probably because the principles you practice must be absorbed in their entirety to be really assimilated, that is with their corollary (see https://www.e-ostadelahi.com/eoe-en/medicine-of-the-soul-excerpt-conditions-for-the-practice-of-ethics/ ). It is in the nature of things. For instance, if you wish to become altruistic you have to accept the fact that people may be ungrateful.

      Another way you can look at it is that your intention is being tested. For, instance in my case, everytime I do charity work I would somehow get humiliated or completely ignored. And this goes on today.

  3. Maryam Oct 25, 2016 6:42 pm 3

    I think Peter should have waited longer before he talked to Jack, thinking why am I hurt? Did I expect jack to be loyal to me because I helped him? Did I expect him to mention my name as a great help? Should he not be criticizing me because I helped him? Well maybe next time I want to do someone a favor I should think of what are my intentions first!!

  4. Flamenco Oct 25, 2016 6:48 pm 4

    1. The first thing I would do to Peter would be trying to listen to him, assess his pain and ease his pain by talking to him and telling him that his resentment is normal and anyone would feel the same. Feeling like a monster after those anger moment normally leads to do some more bad actions which is why I think it is important to help Peter to come out of that mode first and as soon as possible. That’s why I would focus on his positive point right after and help him feel that he is not a bad person just because he has been angry for a moment.

    2. I would give him compliments, telling him what an amazing person he is for helping jack that much, I would also compliment him about the fact that he has done an amazing job by saying nothing bad about Jack during the meeting and keeping silent and keeping everything at a personal level between the two of them only, which is a sign that he is a mature person and to some degree he has a big control over his anger already.

    3. After I see him feel better by mentioning these positive points, I would tell him that he was right to share his resentment with Jack but the only problem, although it was a normal reaction, was his way of sharing his resentment with him. He already did an amazing job not mentioning anything to him during the meeting, it would have been ideal if he could have given himself a few days to gain his control back over his emotions and then share his resentment with Jack in a calm way…
    I would mention to Peter that that would be better for three reasons; first, because he could have shared his resentment in a more accurate way and probably would have gotten a more accurate answer from Jack because there would have be no turbulence of emotions going on during the talk, so he have could resolved the issue between them more quickly and more effectively. Secondly anger is not the best way of defending one’s right because now Jack can act victimised by Peter anger and change the whole story and completely ignore the fact that the real story was Peter’s pain. And thirdly because we never know maybe Jack really has a strong reason to act that way and it would be nice to give him a chance to explain himself first without breaking his heart and then making any judgement.

    Have I been confronted to that situations? Yes and most of the time I have acted like Peter did, and regretted that big time, the few times that I have acted like my suggestions to Peter, especially during the last year after a bitter experience, my calmness and control has lead to some huge results and the results have encouraged me a lot to gain control over anger, to resolve the problem or defend my right more accurately and efficiently without hurting anyone’s feelings.

    1. Fariba Oct 26, 2016 2:10 pm 4.1

      I agree %100 with the way you look at the different levels of the story, and your idea is very helpful to me, thanks.

  5. JB Oct 25, 2016 11:15 pm 5

    After reviewing the scenario several times, I concluded that the key trigger for Peter was the lack of acknowledgement and recognition from Jack. Had he received that praise, which would have satisfied his ego, he may not have been as resistant to hear Jack’s constructive feedback. Moreover, his expectations had not been met, which probably added to his frustration since most of us often expect something in response to efforts we make. Perhaps if Peter’s intentions were to attract God’s satisfaction (text book approach), he would not have expected recognition in return.

    Having said all of this, I would have probably behaved in a similar manner to Peter in this scenario (minus the threats). Seeing the story written this way, helps me externalize it and view it objectively whereas if it did happen to me, I would not have been able to reason with myself and come to these same conclusions as easily.

  6. Naghme Oct 26, 2016 1:17 am 6

    Peter you know !
    When a caveman fights with another caveman in our modern age, nobody wins. We fight out of an instinct to survive, and to protect our ego-driven pride. In the end, nobody wins, since we no longer live in the stone-age and killing each other is no longer necessary.
    Ego Shock = Animal Instincts: when our ego is hurt, our inner caveman quickly jumps out in attack mode. Even if we logically know that it is unnecessary to be in attack mode, the caveman will still be there and we experience feelings like animal instinct. When our anger is activated by some stimulus, the impulse of anger will manifest in our conscious self, overtake our reason, and drive us toward aggression.

  7. Sepideh Oct 26, 2016 1:27 am 7

    I will listen to Peter until he calms down! I will then tell him that he should not ruin his good deeds by expecting something in return ! His intentions should be to help whenever he can without obstructing his other commitments and obligations without any expectations to be thanked etc…Giving examples of my own experiences when people I helped were ungrateful!

  8. Rosh Oct 26, 2016 1:32 pm 8

    In my opinion it is trough intention that we can clarify our action. If we do something for God’s satisfaction then we should not expect anything in return, even be kind of happy if there is no recognition from the other party. If we do it for the sake of the job to be done correctly, then if it is successful we should be happy even if our name is not mentioned. If we do it only for the sake of helping another person then we should consider our other engagements and take into consideration the rights at stake and thus our duties. If our job is criticised, if it is constructive we should not get angry or have any resentment. But if the criticism is not valid comes from bad intentions towards us, we have to defend ourselves.
    That said, I myself went trough a lot of turmoil when my dedication was totally ignored and I was hurt greatly. Having God’s satisfaction in mind helped me to continue helping and fight my negativity or non-action. But once it was over, not being recognized made me very angry, I even started bad-mouthing the person for their ingratitude. I am very disappointed in my reaction, I failed my test, but through this hardship I also learned more about my flaws and my qualities.

    1. kbld Oct 30, 2016 2:00 am 8.1

      @Rosh
      Who works “for the sake of the job to be done correctly”? Like it or not, we work first for money and then, if possible, to do good. Otherwise, we would all be in India helping poor children or something like that.
      I think the situation should be approached more pragmatically.

    2. kbld Oct 31, 2016 12:42 pm 8.2

      @Rosh
      Of course, I am not saying our ultimate goal cannot be altruism. We can want to earn money to take care of our family and educate our children. We can want to feed ourselves in order to have the strength to help our fellow human beings. We can choose to live a modern life instead of going to India for charity because we think we can be more useful to society here, through non-demonstrative but still meaningful actions. Etc.
      All I am saying is that the immediate purpose of working is to earn money. Our state of mind while doing so can differ indeed.

  9. AA Oct 26, 2016 2:58 pm 9

    If I were Peter, controlling my anger, I would just let my friend know how I felt about his action at the meeting and that I was disappointed. I would leave it at that.

    The harsh tune of voice, making harsh statements and walking away in anger would not be proper actions.

  10. LA Oct 26, 2016 3:27 pm 10

    Flamenco’s approach totally echoes my perspective. It bears the marks of “no pain, no gain” just like in my own case! I would just also tell Peter to hold no grudge nor bitterness towards Jack as a person, but to recognize the negative character trait that was so hurtful to him and not duplicate it HIMSELF…

  11. ZM Oct 26, 2016 5:03 pm 11

    I think my immediate reaction would have been first to stay calm, to remind myself this maxim of Ostad Elahi: “The cause of everything that happens to you is in you; you should therefore look within yourself to find the cause.” Then I would start analysing the whole scenario by evaluating my intention.

    Why do I feel hurt and resentful? Was helping Jack a sincere act of altruism or was there something missing? We should act in a selfless way, without expecting anything in return. Who did I try to satisfy by accomplishing this act? God or my ego?

    I would also have reminded myself of the following maxim to neutralise the effect of anger and to keep myself motivated to perform selfless acts:

    “How noble it is to do good, be wronged in return, and yet forgive.”

    Finally, I would try to sketch a plan to practice altruism in vivo, and pay attention to all the necessary conditions for my practice to lead to optimal results.

  12. MA Oct 26, 2016 5:13 pm 12

    If Peter were to ask for my advice, I would have responded by helping him to analyze his feelings and intentions throughout the process of the work that he performed as a favor for Jack! It would be appropriate for Peter to analyse his own motivation for accepting to do this task as a favor in the first place and his own sense of satisfaction for its outcome regardless of Jack’s reactions. And secondly, to think of a reciprocal situation whereby Jack could have done the same for him! His anger seems to be based more on his inability to prove to others at the staff meeting that he was responsible for the project’s outcome and not being appreciated, at which point in the process of self-analysis he should try to see within himself whether his work brought him an inner sense of accomplishment regardless of praise, including from Jack. This attitude of inner grace from Peter would eventually make Jack realize that his behavior was inappropriate and would place Jack in a situation of shame ! It would also induce a sense of respect towards Peter which would have a more lasting effect both spiritually and in the material sense amongst his colleagues.

  13. DM Oct 26, 2016 5:42 pm 13

    The timing of this article is a miracle for me, as recently I had a personal experience similar to this scenario and have since been very conflicted and absorbed by its outcome.

    Of course I failed my test and reacted the same as Peter. During my own experience I became very resentful towards that individual, which led to an aggressive verbal confrontation.

    After many weeks of refelcting on my reaction, everytime I was close to internally take blame, my imperious self has justified my action and I told myself they deserved the confrontation. Even when I first read this scenario my imperious self stepped in and reassured me that Peter had a right to defend himself, so people dont walk all over him.

    But after reading all the comments, I am so embarassed of letting myself be blinded from my own anger and let my anyger take the best of me.

    The best way to deal with my anger is to see everything that happens as scenarios from God and always take some time to cool down and reflect before I react.

  14. PK Oct 26, 2016 5:47 pm 14

    I would remind Peter that if his intention was to do a good deed and help a friend/colleague he should not have been so hurt, annoyed and angered by Jack’s criticism… He should have been thankful for being able to help out and not need any recognition or expect anything back in return.

  15. Shideh Anissipour Oct 26, 2016 6:20 pm 15

    Of course it is normal that we get hurt when our ego gets hurt and we feel we are not being appreciated. But if we do things for others with no expectations but do it for the good deed and to improve ourselves, we should not get angry and feel that our work has been wasted!
    Because what we did it was for ourselves and God’s satisfaction.

    Looking at it that way, makes it easier to control our emotions.

  16. PS Oct 26, 2016 6:26 pm 16

    To Jack: I’ve been in frustrating situations at work and some of them very similar to what you described here. To be honest I think you did a much better job controlling yourself during that meeting, than I imagine myself doing. One thing for sure is that releasing anger will not help you find a resolution to this. People get hurt then they get defensive and the first thing they will do is to stop communicating with you. It would be more productive if you took a step back first and gave yourself some space to clear out your mind, then once you’ve overcome that anger you can start telling them about the situation and let them explain what happened there and what was the reason behind it. Easier said than done though. In the end, you can stay friends with them but keep in mind that they might do that again, so plan accordingly in the future.

  17. Farhad Oct 26, 2016 6:40 pm 17

    Peter should have had a calm discussion, and opened up the issue, and not become internally inflamed.

  18. Ellie Oct 26, 2016 8:08 pm 18

    I don’t think Peter did a good job shouting and slamming the door but I do think that we have to defend ourselves politely and wisely. Peter would probably be better off if he had shared his feeling with Jack on a friendly occasion.

  19. mahnaz Oct 26, 2016 9:02 pm 19

    I just wanted to say that I agree with AA.

  20. CB Oct 26, 2016 9:32 pm 20

    I am just flabbergasted by the timing of this article. I’m dealing with a surprisingly similar situation as Peter. I haven’t lashed out or slammed doors but I’m definitely angry inside. I’ve been wondering what I was supposed to learn from this situation. I shared my frustration with a friend just yesterday and what she told me calmed me like a bucket of ice water on fire. She said that as human beings it is our duty to help others and that if my intention was pure I should continue performing my duties and leave the rest to the one and only Judge. It’s quite reassuring to know that nothing goes without notice and if your rights are overstepped despite your best intentions you will be rewarded regardless. Perhaps what I will hopefully learn from this experience will be the best reward that I could ever ask for. Until then I will continue to contemplate and think about the conversation I had with that friend every time I sense the “fire” within me that I know stems from anger.

  21. lucky Oct 26, 2016 11:12 pm 21

    It is much easier to judge Peter’s reaction than to reflect on myself. However I have been in many similar situations and unfortunately in the heat of the moment it is very difficult to control my ego and to remind myself of the opportunity to fight against my weak points and do the right thing. In my experience usually with a delay I will remember that facing people’s ingratitude comes together with practicing altruism. People are often ungrateful. Once we are aware of this and consider altruism simply as a duty, we no longer feel upset at those who ungrateful towards us and we no longer expect anything in return from others.

  22. Nelkat Oct 26, 2016 11:44 pm 22

    I totally agree with Flamenco. It would be very encouraging to acknowledge his good deeds and it is a good motivator. However, Peter should learn how to deal with his anger and to only discuss his frustration in a gentle manner so as to not generate negative feelings.

  23. Saga Oct 27, 2016 12:03 am 23

    Peter could have taken the cristism as constructive and improved his work. He could have afterwards told Jack that he should have told him in person. Jack was wearing the colleague hat at work, but Peter was wearing the friend hat. We should see signs or guidance in everything that happens to us and educate ourselves in the process.

  24. Yan Oct 27, 2016 12:05 am 24

    In the past, I have found myself to be an intelligent and persuasive advisor who never tasted his own medicine, as a result, I always looked down those who came to me in similar situations for their narrow mindedness, and was always frustrated by their inability to detach themselves from their emotions; not surprisingly, when it came to practice my own teachings in vivo I almost always failed.

    Therefore, I’d give the first advice to myself: You need to put your feet in his shoes, and compassionately suffer his anger and frustration with him. (I learnt this idea from the book Twelve Steps to a Compassionate Life, which was previously introduced on this website).

    Then, after this reconciliation; I would discuss with him the following:

    There are two entirely different matters at hand and their cumulative effect frustrated you; they have to be separated in order to assess your situation fairly.

    1- Being unappreciated (when your friend didn’t mention your contribution): Re-assess your intention; if you helped him without expecting anything in return, there is nothing to be angry about; the Source will maximize your rewards in a way He knows best. In fact, you should even be happy that you didn’t received any material compensation for your good deed; now you could get all your rewards in your spiritual bank account, depending on how you behave after being unappreciated.

    2- Criticism: if you detach your self from your emotions, you realize that the fact that you generously helped someone does not waive his rights to criticize you in different situations; I suggest you to assess the situation realistically, using this criteria: how would you have responded to such a criticism if it came from a third party? Adjust your behaviour accordingly.

  25. Homayoun Oct 27, 2016 12:27 am 25

    First of all I would have defended my rights during the meeting by stating the amount of extra time I had to put in to help Jack.

    Second, I would have asked Jack for his motives behind his behavior. Perhaps Jack has an explanation and I need to hear him out. No one does something like this without a good explanation. If he is trying to make himself look better in front of management; then what will it accomplish to make Peter look bad. So there must be something else and we need to hear Jack’s reasoning for this poor judgement and behavior.

    Thirdly, instead of getting angry which makes me feel worse, I would have a relaxed conversation with Jack and explain that I will not be helping him in the future; unless his explanation from above makes sense.

    Lastly, we all make mistakes and if Jack is willing to sincerely apologise, promise that it will not happen again, then I should give him a 2nd chance. We should not judge too quickly, as people have bad days, they make mistakes and their negative behavior toward us is not intentional. They may not think like us. They may be raised differently and come from a different background. So we have to be patient with others and don’t expect them to act like us.

    1. kbld Oct 29, 2016 11:10 am 25.1

      @Homayoun
      I really like your way of dealing with it and your thoughts, thanks!

  26. B Oct 27, 2016 1:07 am 26

    If I was being sensible, I would talk to Jack and make him aware of the situation he was putting me in a collected manner and wait to hear Jack’s reply. I would ask him to approach me in person with any matters about the project. Depending on Jack’s reply, I would decide to help him with future projects or not. But next time I wouldn’t commit my time entirely to someone just to help finish their project. I would remind myself that I also have prior engagements with other people important to me and I have to consider them in the matter as well. And hopefully I would be thankful for the lesson learned in the meanwhile.

  27. Ia Oct 27, 2016 1:12 am 27

    I would have to be honest and tell Peter that I understand him. But I would tell him that the problem was at the onset. When he agreed to help his friend did he consider his own right? And that of his family? Was he aware that by helping his colleague he would be doing his own job less well?
    Peter has a legitimate right that he is morally bound to. He was blinded by false principles. If his friend always needs his help, providing this help might be depriving him of his own awareness that his job is not suited to him or that he has to reconsider the projects he accepts. By wanting to help, Peter really makes a mess at several levels.

  28. SB Oct 27, 2016 2:22 am 28

    I would listen to him and at the end would ask him “What was the reason he helped Jack?” Did he want to help a friend or did he want to put his name on Jack’s project? On the other hand Peter thought his own projects were perfect and no one had the right to criticize them, especially Jack who owes him because he helped him finish his project on time. I would tell him his reaction looks natural and I might have acted the same way. I would remind him that it is better not to react immediately and to think about the whole scenario before doing anything just on the basis of anger.

  29. shany Oct 27, 2016 12:57 pm 29

    I think it depends on your intention. If you help somebody, first of all you should identify what you mean by helping him or her. If you expect something in return, then you are right to get angry, and if you expect nothing and you do it only for divine satisfaction, then there is nothing to get angry about. The interview by Bahram Elahi on altruism (https://www.e-ostadelahi.com/eoe-en/altruism-an-interview-with-bahram-elahi-m-d/) is very insightful on this point.

    1. Maya Oct 28, 2016 2:57 am 29.1

      Thanks for reminder. Such a great interview.

  30. Farinaz Oct 27, 2016 12:59 pm 30

    The first time something like this happened to me I was very hurt and angry. Still I didn’t express it, however I verbilized it to myself! After that, I simply waited for the next time when asked to help and I tried to determine if that person was be capable of understanding, and if so I would talk about it. These are great opportunities to reflect on my shortcomings when others share their perspective.
    In any event, I know what comes around goes around, so I would just let it go. Also, I would analyze whether I am being subject to abuse, in which case I am responsible to stop that.

  31. MJ Oct 27, 2016 9:07 pm 31

    I went through a situation similar to what happened to Peter not too long ago. Six months ago, I worked on a major proposal and spent many weekends at my office working on this proposal. I finally completed it and sent it to my boss and a few other people who are involved in this project. I not only never received a thank you email from my boss but I also found out a few weeks after sending that email that he had been attending meetings where the proposal that I wrote was discussed and he was taking credit for my work! I was very frustrated and I requested a meeting. In that meeting, I did not do what Peter did to Jack. I firmly stated my case and told my boss that I was really puzzled with this situation. He danced around the topic and tried to deny the fact that he had been taking credit for my work. I was very upset for a few weeks after this meeting to the point that I could not focus on other things. I finally decided to let go because sadly work politics is a real issue but I decided that from now on if my boss asked me to work on a proposal, I will do a better job clarifying who will get the credit for that task. Unfortunately, doing the right thing ethically did not even cross my mind when I was struggling to calm myself down. I also tried to educate myself and learn how I can prevent this situation form re-occurring. I found out that not laying out who gets the credit is a common mistake that women make at work; meaning that it is more common for women not to get the deserved credit for what they do compared to men because women do not clarify the terms in the beginning.
    Now months after this incident and after some reflection, I look at is as a positive experience that taught me a few valuable lessons. I can only hope to remember them with the next project.

    After my own experience, I would tell Peter that he was right to be frustrated but he should have confronted Jack in a more professional manner. Getting angry to that extreme (slamming the door) could have several negative outcomes such as 1) He may now be labeled as someone with anger issues and that could impact his performance evaluations and possibly the next career moves and 2) That level of anger could impact his health. There have been many reported cases in the medical literature on how a rage like this resulted in a stroke or a heart attack.
    I would also tell Peter that he should reach out to Jack and apologize to him immediately as difficult as that could be. He could have presented his dissatisfaction in a more cordial way.

    1. kbld Oct 29, 2016 11:05 am 31.1

      @MJ
      I think your comment is very important to be read. In your situtation, fighting for your rights is a duty toward all women. Like you decided, you have to be realistic, but not let things become a routine. Thanks for sharing your experience and your thoughts!

  32. Paul Oct 27, 2016 11:07 pm 32

    Was Jack’s criticism justified? Was Peter expecting Jack to do him a favour by not commenting?
    Peter could have considered these questions and continued to hold back his anger. This scenario is making evident some of his weaknesses including anger management.

  33. Juliet Oct 28, 2016 3:28 am 33

    To be honest if I was peter I would have done the same because I cannot control myself in such situations and I know it is bad and the truth is that Peter shouldn’t have done that. Expressing anger is never OK. If someone hurts us we should forgive them but never forget what happened in order to prevent it from happening again. But this doesn’t mean that because of may get hurt again we should help him anymore. We should help others no matter what, and even if we get hurt in the process. If we don’t forget what happened, the next time we can be ready for it and maybe we can plan to prevent it from happening, but this doesn’t mean that we skip helping altogether. We have to be kind to everyone. One thing that Peter could have done is to count down from 10 and think positive instead of confronting Jack. This way he could have been calm and could have left the scene without anger.

  34. Leila Oct 28, 2016 3:54 am 34

    Be aware that anger is always trying to defeat you. It is important to recognize that and to wait and think for a second before acting in open anger. During this time you could remind yourself that helping others without expecting anything in return and only for God’s satisfaction is a duty. It is hard for sure but with repeated practice, hopefully it is possible. Anger is like a small fire and if you act on it, it is just like pouring fuel on the fire. By being patient you can control this disaster. And you should not expect to be protected from honest criticism just because you did something to help someone.

    When any strong emotion arrises in you, it is important to let yourself feel the emotion completely in the moment without acting or interpreting too quickly. Let the emotion come into you completely and then try to find out why it has taken hold of you so strongly. Through this honest introspection you can come to understand your reaction and whether it was a healthy response or not. Do not allow powerful emotions dictate a rash or destructive action which may have lasting implications on your life.

  35. Afsaneh Oct 28, 2016 4:07 pm 35

    I’m not sure if I would be able to do what I believe is right in this case. Easier said than done. But I believe that Peter should definitely have discussed the matter later. He should have listened to his point of view too. But he should not have considered revenge at all, as he did.

  36. Haleh Oct 29, 2016 12:42 am 36

    We live and work in an ever increasingly egoistical and individualistic environment. Individual recognition, promotion, personal glory are values we are all encouraged in many ways through various means to aspire to, sometimes regardless of the cost and the toll it takes on ourselves and those around us. Sometimes even if we help a colleague/friend, the motives are not completely void of selfishness, nevertheless, Peter was kind enough to help a colleague in need. Part of me, feels a great satisfaction at Peter’s outburst at Jack, as this is what would really satisfy part of me that has experienced this scenario.

    Another part thinks to go back and retrace the steps of the scenario and analyse to see if it is the right thing to sacrifice personal/family/friend commitments for a colleague?, in other words, when we give up/do things for others, do we weigh in all our duties? do we question our motives? do we think the person deserves this? do we act with sound reason or do we follow our instinct? Perhaps sacrifices made for people without careful reflection would only raise our false expectations. Peter’s kindness was not repaid by Jack, but sometimes we needs to remember that an act rooted in kindness will by itself bear fruit and that act of kindness will benefit Peter sooner or later provided it is rooted in kindness. The question is has Peter defined ‘kindness’ for himself, which takes us back to the question of priorities amongst our responsibilities.

  37. coco Oct 29, 2016 1:48 am 37

    My 1st reaction was one of righteous indignation so I can relate to Peter’s anger but I’ve learned that for me, righteous indignation is always a manifestation of my imperious self.

    I would try to help Peter move out of his anger by transitioning his focus from his emotions to something logical. In this case, I’d suggest that while he feels his rights have been violated on several levels he will need to identify each issue before he can address them with Jack.

    A good way to start would be to ask God’s help to get his emotions under control, help him see the situation clearly and determine what if any action is appropriate.

    Shifting one’s focus to ask for God’s help and recognizing that whatever happens to us is meant somehow to benefit us, tends to help defuse intense emotions and regain control over them so we can move on from an angry, irrational thought process to a logical one.

    To this end, I’d suggest he ask himself –
    1. Why did this happen to me?
    2. What have I done to incur this situation?
    3. What lesson can I learn from this?

    Jack appears to have taken advantage of Peter by not giving him credit for the work that he did. If this is the case, it is a form of theft in which case Peter should defend himself. But Peter must defend himself in such a way that does not violate Jack’s rights in return.

    Once Peter’s anger is under control, he can reevaluate the situation with more accuracy and if he does so with God’s satisfaction in mind he can derive more benefit from it.

    He could calmly approach Jack for a private meeting. Then, with an open mind, Peter could point out Jack’s oversight and ask him why he didn’t credit him for his work. (In my experience, things are sometimes not what we think they are, especially when our pride and ego are involved.) Jack may have simply forgotten to credit Peter for his work or may have acknowledged Peter’s work in some other manner that Peter was unaware of.

    If Peter had burst into Jack’s office as planned and expressed his anger, he might have violated Jack’s rights, destroyed a friendship and made it difficult to work together. Even if Jack’s intention was to claim Peter’s work for his own, Peter can insist that the matter be rectified perhaps by having Jack acknowledge Peter’s contribution at the next weekly departmental meeting or in some other manner they both agree upon.

    Peter also felt betrayed when Jack shared a few “criticisms” of his project. But I would suggest to Peter that due to his emotional state at the time, it is unlikely he was able to accurately evaluate Jack’s comments or benefit from any constructive aspects of them. At their private meeting, with his ego in check, Peter could discuss this with Jack. Perhaps this was the only opportunity Jack had to raise some valid concerns. If Jack’s insights are useful, it might prove to be beneficial for Peter in the future to ask Jack to review his projects and provide his comments to Peter privately, prior to their departmental meetings. An angry outburst would likely have deprived Peter of Jack’s input privately.

    Peter could gradually reduce his anger by finding an effective strategy to implement when needed.

  38. FT Oct 29, 2016 3:14 am 38

    Obviously, the better reaction would have been ignoring him maybe, but sometimes we need to voice our resentment, specially in close friendships, since if we repress them, they will burst out some time later with a lot more destructive consequences. As LA mentioned too, Peter could’ve expressed his frustration toward Jack without holding any grudge or hard feelings. More often than not, people say or do things without even realizing that they’re hurting someone’s feeling and emotions. I’ve learned that even when sometimes I think I’m being funny or courteous to others, there are some people who see it differently and even resent me for my words.

  39. HH Oct 29, 2016 3:36 am 39

    First, I would try to get my emotions under control and think rationally about what just occurred. Then, I would have taken a moment (perhaps a day) to think about the substance of Jack’s criticism to see if there was any truth to it. If his criticisms were meritless, I would confront him in a cordial yet firm manner in order to defend myself. If his criticisms were accurate, I would acknowledge my mistakes but still outline the work I did for him, so he does not have the perception that I am a “slacker.”

  40. AJ Oct 29, 2016 5:06 am 40

    I would try to have a very friendly conversation with Peter.
    I would begin by letting him know I totally understand his frustration and how he has reacted on the day and praise him for managing to refrain from saying anything bad during the meeting and not embarrassing Jack in front of his boss and other colleagues. I would also tell him I understand his urge at the time to want to go over to Jack and let him know his sentiment and a lot of people would have probably reacted the same way. I would tell him I can’t blame him not wanting to help that guy again given the way he feels now.
    I would also share with him one of my experiences from the past where I did someone a favour and got burnt and then I would let him know that when I am honest with myself and reflect on the past and my own actions I can recall incidents where I have been guilty of the same exact crime and when I look back I wish I had acted better and I hope the people I have wronged have forgiven me and am grateful that they have not been vengeful towards me. Those thoughts help me forgive the people who have wronged me. I would further explain that these experiences have thought me two things: one is to try my best not to be unappreciative to others when they act with kindness and the other is to manage my own feelings when I get offended by their less than kind attitudes.
    I would tell him that if he puts himself through the same exercise and goes back in his memories he may find incidents when he has been unfair and unkind towards a friend or a loved one after them being nice to him and perhaps he hasn’t exactly expressed gratitude deservedly towards them or hasn’t given them credit when credit was due.
    If I know Peter believes in God, I would remind him that God would reward his act of charity a lot more. Then I would share with him that I believe that when we help others with the intention of seeking God’s satisfaction, then we couldn’t care less, nor would we yearn for people’s recognition. By being vengeful and not wanting to help Jack he only deprives himself from opportunities of more acts of charity.
    If I am successful in calming Peter down with my words then I would encourage him to reassess Jack’s comments because if there were no merits to Jacks criticism he should have addressed them professionally there and then and if there are merits to Jacks criticism, then he should consider them to be constructive and act responsibly and show professionalism towards his employer by correcting his work.

  41. HP Oct 29, 2016 10:26 am 41

    Very interesting timing for this article to show up, as I have just recently experienced a somewhat similar scenario. A co-worker of mine, who happens to be my closest friend at work, had asked me previously for help on an assignment. It happened on an evening with the reasoning that his VPN on his computer didn’t work from home. I helped him finish his assignment.

    Very recently though, he called me again one evening with the same excuse and asked for my help. I knew that the work he needed to complete was actually something he was really not motivated to work on as he had jokingly indicated to me to do the work for him the day before. I instantly started to think negatively about his request, thinking to myself why he had not fixed his VPN in the meantime and that this would just be an excuse for him to avoid the work he really disliked to do. Over the phone, I agreed to help him, while having these negative thoughts going through my mind. As I attempted to connect to the corporate VPN on my computer, it turned out that my VPN was broken as well, and I was not able to help him finish his assignment.

    My advice to Peter would be the following: generally it is best to help others without having negative thoughts and without having any expectations for reward or attribution in return. That is harder said than done. In this case, Peter could have walked up to his colleague and asked in a calm way why he did not mention his contribution as part of the project. Since they all worked as a team on this project, it would have been nice for him to give Peter attribution as well. Slamming the door was definitely too aggressive and an overreaction. His overall reaction in this situation has very negative ramifications on their future collaboration at work.

  42. MAT Oct 29, 2016 10:09 pm 42

    I think, Peter’s intention is the matter, if his intention was to do something selflessly, he should not expect any praise in return.

  43. kbld Oct 30, 2016 11:29 am 43

    It seems to me that most of the comments are missing the point here, which is to discuss anger, not altruism.
    We all work to get paid. It’s legitimate, and if we have the means to do so, it’s even a duty to make a living and, if needed, to take care of one’s family. No angel will come down to put food on our plate, we must work, earn money, and buy food with it. If on top of that we can do good to society through our work (and we can think every honest work does, or can do), it’s good, but unless we are already wealthy enough to be able to live in dignity our whole life, we primarily work for money.
    And at work, in many environments, recognition is a kind of salary, and, in a healthy free market system, should lead to actual money though bonuses, salary raise, or a better position in the company, a better job, etc. So, just like we want to get paid, we legitimately want to get recognized for our work.
    Here, they are friends, but it does not change anything in the workplace. It’s even good, for a friendship to be healthy, not to let the other use friendship as a tool to professionally harm you at work.
    MJ stresses a very important point: for women, it’s even more important to claim one’s salary. Some (a lot?) of men treat women like servants, and it must stop. In a situation like she describes, it’s still a question of personal rights, of the rights of co-workers, but also of women’s rights, dignity and place in this world. So women have to be intransigent on this point, if they can. Symbolically, I would say that they should be ready to use knives to receive what is duly theirs.
    So, pure altruism or helping someone without expecting to receive anything in return is off topic here. The topic here is anger. Because Peter’s reaction is obviously bad on every level: psychologically and with regards to his soul, but also professionally because people in the company will see him even more badly.
    And his reaction of not wanting to help Jack again is bad for him too. Like MJ did, he should be clear next time in advance, and only if it happens again, decide not to help him again, but without anger because it leads to nothing, and even harms. Clearly, anger blinds him, because it’s materially good in a company to be considered an important element of the group.
    Was it legitimate for Peter not to like Jack’s criticism? If it was something negative that could have been said privately, because of Peter help and Jack’s silence on it, yes, the latter would be at fault.
    On a material level, I agree with Homayoun and MJ. (For the excuses part, only because they are friends, otherwise I would not see the point since Peter’s honor was not attacked).
    On a spiritual level, he should avoid getting angry at any cost. Then, he should ask himself why he got so angry. And I believe the answer is clear: he is too attached to materiality. We should claim what is duly ours, but also keep in mind that, in itself, it has absolutely no value. Peter sees the situation within a microcosm, where he has been wronged indeed, but on the scale of his true self and existence, it’s nothing and it’s fair. When he leaves this world, this wrong will mean nothing to him, he will not care at all, and I mean it: at all. So, getting so angry for this nothingness is sort of ridiculous.
    Of course, it’s easy to say. But perhaps he was precisely put in this situation to be able to realize that he is too attached to material things. So he should autosuggest on their insignificance, and thus improve the quality of his being for a better life beyond this world.

  44. HA Oct 30, 2016 11:39 pm 44

    I think Peter should have defended himself, but not so aggressively. If he asked me what he should have done, I would have advised him to perhaps walk away from the situation in the moment, and not linger to chat with Jack after the meeting. This on its own would send somewhat of a message without being rude. I would then suggest that he try to speak to Jack later in person, with a cooler head. If he knew this wouldn’t be possible for him, I’d advise that he send Jack a brief e-mail to explain how he felt. I have personally never been through this situation, and haven’t had someone take credit for my work. I imagine I would be very angry though and would probably have the same gut reaction that Peter did. I think it’s very easy to advise others to stay calm and level headed in the moment, and to be careful not trample over the rights of others. But when your own rights have been blatantly trampled, it is difficult to stay calm. I definitely have noticed some different manifestations of anger in myself lately, but not pertaining to work. This article couldn’t have come at a better time.

  45. Tulip Oct 31, 2016 10:29 pm 45

    To be honest, my reaction to this situation unfortunately, would likely be like Peter’s.

    However, over the past few months I have read and thought a lot about the two posts on e-ostadelahi.com related to Impatience. Through these two posts and through other practical exercises and studying, I am trying to stop the emotional response. Our first response has to include looking into ourselves to determine what we need to learn from this situation. Once we are clearer on this, it is best to unemotionally go to Jack and express the ethics of the situation to avoid its occurrence in the future.

    This statement in the article Impatience under the microscope has greatly influenced me:
    Thus, as we should first be charitable to ourselves, our primary concern should be to work on ourselves and try to get our minds to reach a state in which we are able to dispassionately endure others’ opinions that seem false to us so that we might oppose them only when driven by the desire to be helpful.

    Opposing someone when driven by the desire to be helpful changes the game: it takes away the anger, allows time to understand and work on oneself and allows for productivity rather then looking defensive or hurting someone else.

    I’m not saying I am able to do this successfully yet — but this is the goal!

    1. H. Nov 11, 2016 10:34 am 45.1

      I very much agree with your comment.
      This post on impatience was also very helpful to me:
      https://www.e-ostadelahi.com/eoe-en/i-am-impatient-but-i-am-working-on-it/

  46. B Modiri Nov 01, 2016 6:29 am 46

    It seems that Peter has a right to be angry against and disappointed by his colleague’s betrayal. Rather than making absolute threats that he knows he won’t stick to and that will only make him look weak after all is said and done, perhaps he should take a moment to see this from a spiritual viewpoint and identify reasons why this happened to him in the first place. He will most likely find the reason (usually if you listen to your conscience it’s the first thought that sticks out to you) why this situation happened to him. If that’s the case his anger should subside since in reality he is the very source of this action-reaction scenario.
    Now the question of defending himself is appropriate and I believe that he should. The only difference is now he defends himself from a position that is less weak. His confidence is higher since he feels no injustice and hopefully he will deal with things in a dignified manner, which will only boost the respect of his colleagues.

    Of course this is all in vitro…God help us all if we experience such a scenario first hand.

  47. Said Nov 01, 2016 12:20 pm 47

    I also have anger problems. I would say, have a conversation and mention your concerns. If he didn’t do it purposely make him aware of his action and forgive him. If that is not the case and he is a bad person stay away from him and don’t give him a chance to hurt you again. In the big picture we help others because it’s the right thing to do.

  48. Freeborn Nov 03, 2016 5:10 am 48

    I would try to calm Peter down and assure him that his the fact that he helped someone else was brilliant. But, we have to think about our intentions deeply. We have to help others because it’s our duty as human beings and not to get people to applaud. So, if Peter’s mindset had been like this from the beginning, he wouldn’t have gotten that mad. If he only wanted to do it for God and to be a good person, he might have acted differently. Maybe Jack didn’t need help that much after all and maybe he was just lazy, or maybe Jack really needed help and might have lost his job if someone hadn’t helped him. Peter has to decide wisely what the best thing to do is, what God wants him to do.

  49. JWY Nov 04, 2016 11:22 pm 49

    I would tell Peter that helping his friend was a noble thing to do, but that perhaps, his ego got the best of him and it would have been better if he had given this scenario some thought, before confronting his friend out of anger.

    He should have taken the time to think about what Jack said about the quality of his work and why he criticized him.

    He should have taken the time to backtrack and analyze his actions and the quality of his work and see if there was any truth to Jack’s criticisms and if he could have found any value in the feedback/criticism he was getting from the quality of his work. Was he at fault in any way?

    Moving forward, if he saw any fault in his actions or the quality of his work, he should have taken this opportunity to improve himself and take responsibility for his actions. On the other hand if he felt that he had done his best, was not at fault and that Jack’s criticisms was not justified, he should have taken the time to communicate his point and defend himself in front of Jack in a calm and rational way.

    By lashing out with anger, he projected a negative side of his personality/image into his work environment and also took away any positive value out of the hard work and dedication he put in to contribute to Jack’s project!

    I would then explain to him that it is never too late to try to improve oneself, suggesting him to keep his ego in check, to analyze his behavior and the quality of his work, to accept any just criticism and to reapproach Jack and try to mend his business and personal relationship with him by apologizing, taking responsibility and communicating his point of view in a calm manner.

    Also he should check his own intentions! Why did he offer to help his friend in the first place?

  50. M. Nov 07, 2016 10:25 am 50

    I think Peter is also losing some very good opportunities for doing good as he knows that Jack will need his help again in the future.

  51. yocto Nov 11, 2016 8:05 pm 51

    Peter, you may not like what I am about to say but you need to learn diplomacy. You have to understand that it is a jungle out there!! You counted on Jack to act like an honest, kind human being! You wanted him to give all the facts about the project at the meeting and say that without your help, he wouldn’t have been able to complete the project?!! To praise you? And basically say “I would have failed without Peter’s help”? Sorry but that’s not how it works in the world I live in! Who does that? Of course he wouldn’t. People need to do these kind of intentional or unintentional selfish acts and manipulations to achieve their goals.

    All you had to do was to say something in the meeting and everything would have been fine after that. Something like: “I applaud Jack for his team oriented spirit and the fact that he is not shy to ask for help when he needs it!! I was more than happy to stay late and help him! Team work never fails! Go team! My only feedback is …” and say something about the project so that your boss knows the level of your engagement and knowledge on the project. And then move on to your own project so that your boss also knows you are not behind on your own work as a result of it. Take ownership Peter, it was your choice to help but be assertive and yet diplomatic. You are not bringing Jack down, but only bringing some equilibrium to the equation and to your inner emotions.

    That is it, well in theory! I am like you! But I am working on it! Work place is an excellent milieu to see our weaknesses and work on them. It’s okay though. Dust yourself off and get back to work. Every second of our lives is an opportunity. To me, it means that the reflection of every second of our efforts in this world, immediately impacts our future beyond this world.

    1. kbld Nov 14, 2016 1:28 pm 51.1

      @yocto
      I don’t think I’m living in the same world as you then ;).
      If I worked in a company where nobody understood that there are basic rules, that all work merits recognition, where the law of the jungle applied, I would simply quit. Of course, nobody’s perfect, but you are talking as if uncivilized behavior was the rule out there. I think such a workplace would simply be mad.
      And it’s not a question of spirituality for people to understand that there are rules, but of efficiency, of common survival. It’s simply selfish: if you are not bound by any rules toward others, then they aren’t toward you either. When there are no rules, it is chaos, and, unless I really needed the job to survive, I wouldn’t work in a company like that.
      Anyway, I don’t think what you are describing is the real world. Perhaps I’m naive, but I don’t think so.

  52. Sh. Nov 14, 2016 9:55 am 52

    Peter, did you ask your family before taking on these assignments?
    Did you see this whole situation as a test of the purity of your intention?

  53. Merdy Nov 18, 2016 3:33 pm 53

    To avoid anger, we should not expect anything from others and our deeds should be for His contentment. It’s not always easy to do so due to our ego but if we could help people without expecting anything, there would be less frustrations in life.

  54. KB Nov 22, 2016 12:24 am 54

    I would tell Peter that I understand his frustration that his help/work was apparently not acknowledged in front of their boss, as I have been in similar situations. However I would recommend him to apologize to Jack and speak with him about the episode,
    – as Jack might have told their boss about Peter’s work even before the meeting
    – as professional criticism should not be taken personally and hurt his ego. On the contrary, he could learn from it.
    – as his angry behaviour will have left a negative effect on Jack, their friendship and the atmosphere at work.
    – as Jack has probably made a mistake by not mentioning his work, and that everyone makes mistakes
    I might also point to possible positive aspects of this scenario: Peter can gain valuable insights from it. He can ask himself how a balanced reaction would have looked, e.g. asking Jack how his behaviour should be understood and that he feels disappointed that his contribution was apparently not acknowledged by Jack.
    My mentioning of spiritual aspects (look within yourself, don’t expect thankfulness) would depend on my knowledge of Peter’s belief system.

  55. Ep Nov 28, 2016 9:41 am 55

    If I were to give advice, I would tell him that he can express to Jack what upset him in a better manner. For example, “it hurt me when you…” This is a better approach than yelling and storming off. He also could have taken a break before speaking to Jack so he could calm down a bit more.

  56. Peter Jan 11, 2017 2:03 am 56

    Whilst I think it’s obviously important to control anger in this situation, in my experience it’s impossible not to feel some degree of hurt. We are human after all. The key, I think, is to use this hurt as a trigger to remind us that we are growing from our experience and performing altruistic acts with no expectation of gratitude. Most of the comments here reflect that principle but asking ourselves why we are feeling the hurt can be the catalyst for correcting our education of the thought.

  57. nk Feb 22, 2017 12:44 am 57

    I would have noticed myself getting frustrated and in a general bad mood about half way into the 10 days. I would have asked myself why I am doing this. If it was to please myself or others, then it would have been easier for me to step back and tell Jack that unfortunately I am too busy to help him with his project, but that I’d be happy to in the future. If it was for divine contentment, then I would have continued working on the project with integrity, and I would not have gotten mad when I heard Jack’s criticism. In fact, I would have seen it as a blessing because Jack’s criticism could be useful in helping me do a better job in the future. I would have been grateful for the opportunity given to me. There is always a good side to every story.

  58. AD Mar 15, 2018 8:55 am 58

    I would tell Peter about my own challenges. I have to train myself to pause for a moment or for a day. Doing so could save me from mistakes. Pausing for a few seconds (in order to avoid reacting impulsively) can change your life for the better. And we can all train ourselves to adopt such a positive “pause for a moment” behavior.

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