Sometimes you can get very angry about something, and unfortunately when you are angry there are times when you simply can’t stop yourself from yelling or screaming or hitting something, even hitting someone, which is not good at all. No one deserves to be hit and hurt because you have reached the end of your patience, you’re feeling hurt or even because you’re feeling afraid of something and you don’t want to admit that.
But it’s hard knowing all of that when you’re already so mad that you’re screaming. So often you forget what you are doing when you are doing it! So often you “act in haste but repent at leisure:” you act without thinking and then you found out what you’ve done to hurt things later.
When you do come to the end of your being mad, and see what’s happened, there are some things that you shouldn’t do: don’t blame anyone else; don’t make someone else more wrong; don’t hate anyone about it, not even yourself.
To blame someone else (“He made me lose my temper because of what he did!”) makes someone else in charge of your feelings, and when someone else is in charge of your feelings you are always connected to that person and at his mercy: what they do makes you do things! And it is always true: “Two wrongs never make a right.” To point the finger at someone else and say, “Well, he did this bad thing…” does absolutely nothing to make you feel better: it makes everyone feel bad and unhappy.
To hate someone also doesn’t help you feel better: it only makes you put your anger on someone and that doesn’t get rid of it, that just spreads it around. To hate yourself because you have gotten angry is not a good idea either: it just makes you feel worse, and doesn’t solve anything at all. If you are frustrated, you need to understand why you are frustrated and what you can do about it. If you’re feeling hurt, you need to do the same thing. And if you’re afraid you want to find out what this is about as soon as you can.
Sometimes, when you are just simply afraid of doing something wrong or acting like a fool who is all confused, sometimes you need to forgive yourself first. Why? Because you are usually afraid of what someone else will think about what you have done and then how they will react. A lot of people yell as you when you’ve done something wrong, yes? They get angry at you and they might even get angry enough at you to call you bad, hurtful names or even worse. They might call you stupid, clumsy an idiot or tell you that you really should have done things so much differently! They might call you a bad girl or boy or worse. What happens is that every time you are yelled at, every time you are called names by anyone, though particularly by your family, you feel small inside. You feel badly. And sometimes you feel that you are bad, too.
You can understand that people can get impatient, exasperated and they don’t know what to say about what you have done. When they feel that they don’t know what to do they feel that they are inadequate. But what they and you both need is not more yelling, more feeling small inside and more angry words or feeling inadequate: what you and those other tired, frustrated people need is forgiveness.
Forgiveness doesn’t mean, “That’s all right that you did this bad thing: it doesn’t matter.” Of course it matters! Everything you do matters, even if you don’t think so or feel so. Forgiveness means: “I love you and I love myself. I know you made a mistake; I know you did something mean or foolish for some reason. You might have been trying to get my attention. You might have been hurting and not known what to do about it. So I am not going to yell at you: yelling at you makes you feel small inside, small and unhappy. Instead of making you feel small and unhappy, let’s wait until we can talk about this gently. We both need forgiveness so we can feel better, right now.” That’s what forgiveness means.
Sometimes, you like to give something to a friend: a neat little rock you found when your family went camping, something that you used to wear that you think would look better on them, half of your sandwich at lunch if you’re not that hungry. Sometimes you give things like extra time to your friend: if they are having a hard time you can give them comfort or perhaps advice; you can let them stay with you if they really need a safer place to be; you can give them advice, especially if they are going through something that you went through before and you learned a lot about how to manage. You can give friends a great deal because most of your friends return the favor one way or another.
But do you know when are you giving too much? When your friend asks you something that you don’t have or can’t really give to him, is that when you are being asked to give too much? Or, when your friend asks for help too often and never returns the favor, is that too much? When the friend asks you and you’re busy, or you’re sick, it’s easy to say, “Wait for a while: I can’t really help you now.” But there are many times when someone has an emergency: they have to have something right away and they hope they can get it from you somehow. Because you love your friend, you do what they ask as well as you can. But know do you know when someone is asking too much of you?
Ask yourself: “When my friend asks me for something, do I feel tight and unhappy inside? Do you feel like this friend is chasing me down and you feel like a mouse with a cat hunting it? Do you feel like this friend always wants something from you? Do you feel like your friend never seems to give you anything you need? These are all signs that you are giving too much. You cannot pour water out of an empty glass! And you cannot give any more friendship when it has been all used up.