One of my favorite quotations on anger is by George Eliot (Mary Ann Evans Cross’ pseudonym), who wrote in “The Spanish Gypsy,” her longest poem, “Whatever is begun in anger ends in shame.” This is so true! In my April 3, 2012 piece, “Controlling your anger,” I responded to a Today’s Zaman reader who sent a letter asking for help in understanding why some things make her angry. Since then I have received a number of comments. Here are a few of them:
Dear Charlotte: “I think Turkey would be a much nicer place if Turks didn’t get completely undone over their ‘honor.’ You are right. They look right past all the health issues, but should someone call them a name, then you will see real anger. It is what it is!” From: Me
John Thompson wrote: “There is definitely a degree and level of anger expression among cultures that leads to [a] great deal of mistrust. I think that people who choose to live in another country should be encouraged both to integrate and also be supported in their choice. One of the most distressing comments when any perceived criticism is made by an immigrant is, ‘If you don’t like it, move,’ or, ‘Why don’t you go back to your own country?’ There are wider, deeper and more involved issues that need to be appreciated and dealt with responsibly by both sides of the divide.”
Dear Charlotte: “Foreigners are welcome to visit Turkey, but they should not be permitted to extend their stay and then if things do not work out as they want, they find many excuses to complain about the Turkish way of life. Turks extend their hospitality to most foreigners, but guests are like fish, more than a day with them and they start to stink! So have your holiday, enjoy it in the short term, but please go back to where you come from.” From: Jennet
Simplesimon posted this comment in response to Jennet’s: “Turkey is a fabulous country, unimaginably rich in history, architecture, natural beauty and the combined cultural wisdom of countless civilizations. If the majority of Turkish people had your attitude, you would still be living in caves. Don’t mistake advice as criticism from visitors in your country.”
I’d like to share some tips on how to deal with feelings of anger whether you are a foreigner living in Turkey or a Turk living in America! Anger can lead to even stronger feelings such as bitterness and even hatred, if one is not careful. Anger, as mentioned earlier, is an emotion. Ronald Koteskey, cross cultural consultant for Go International, explains in an online seminar that anger involves your mind, your body, your spirit and your behavior. Koteskey gives the following four points to help deal with your anger when working/living abroad:
Mind -- Change how you perceive and interpret things. For example, instead of blaming the other person, consider how you have reacted inappropriately in similar situations in the past. For example, instead of thinking how bad the other person is, think about how his or her day may be going badly.
Body -- Learn some relaxation and cooling-off techniques that will calm your body down. For example, pause, take a few deep breaths, and intentionally relax the muscles you feel tensing throughout your body.
Spirit -- Cross-cultural workers, like other Christians, would know that things such as prayer, reading scripture and meditation are spiritually uplifting and helpful with anger.
Behavior -- Learn new habits and skills to help you respond in an anger-producing situation. For example, instead of raising your voice, silently count to 10 (or 20, or whatever it takes). Instead of sulking or pouting, get some exercise by taking a walk or jog. Instead of arguing, engage in some enjoyable distraction (hobby, game, etc.) for a while. It’s always good to give yourself some space and distance from that thing or person who causes you to get so upset.
“Anger is never without a reason, but seldom with a good one.” -- Benjamin Franklin
Note: Charlotte McPherson is the author of “Culture Smart: Turkey, 2005.” Please keep your questions and observations coming: I want to ensure this column is a help to you, Today’s Zaman’s readers. Email: email@example.com