“Nicht ärgern, nur wundern.” My mother kept a plaque in the kitchen with that phrase on it. It translates from German to “Don’t be angry, just be amazed ” according to Google Translate.
Let’s ignore the creepy fact that this phrase was also the message left by German soldiers on the destroyed town hall of Péronne during World War I. I just found that out while researching this blog post. Eeeeesh.
No, no. I will assume that my mother, born well after WWI and a peace-loving and curious person by nature, was not harbouring any dark, pugilistic patriotism for the country where she was born.
Indeed, when I asked her as a child what the plaque meant, she translated it as “Don’t get angry. Just wonder.”
Wonder at what’s going on with the people involved in a conflict.
Wonder at the differing points of view.
Wonder what each person’s “truth” about the situation is.
Wonder if there’s another way to view the problem.
Wonder if you can find an alternate solution.
Wonder why you are upset. What’s pushing your buttons? What are you really afraid of? Anger is rooted in fear of something: fear of rejection, fear of betrayal, fear of loss, fear of pain, fear of being misunderstood.
Stopping and asking “I wonder….” is a simple but effective way to increase your self-awareness and empathy for others and keep an angry situation from escalating.