When I was a child I reacted to an incident with anger and I spoke to one of my playmates very aggressively, and told her that I would never play with her again. She began to cry and threw something at me, and told me to get away.
I stormed home, where my father seeing my angry face and motions, asked me why I was so upset. I related to him the small incident that had sparked my anger and what I had told my little playmate.
“She’ll be sorry for what she did to me!” I said.
Father patiently explained to me how I had allowed my sudden anger to take control of my true feelings toward my friend. He said that I might possibly regret my actions and my speech.
“Then, you will be the one who is sorry.” he said.
Having cooled down a bit, I reluctantly agreed with him, then asking what I could do to repair the friendship.
Father, sowing a seed of regret, explained that any forgiveness would rest solely with my playmate, it would be her decision alone to forgive, and even if given, the forgiveness may contain conditions, especially if I had hurt her before this incident.
Noticing my further distress, father gently explained that the hurt I caused might not be repairable, and that preventing angry outbursts the only sure way not to damage loving relationships.
With considerable desperation, I asked him what I should do to prevent future angry outbursts.
“That’s easy,” he said, and the word easy grabbed my attention, because nothing my father tried to teach had been “easy“.
“As soon as you feel yourself getting angry,” father said, “You silently count to ten in your head before you say, or do, anything.”
More confused than ever, I asked, “What good will that do?”
“Counting to ten as soon as you notice your anger prevents you from doing and saying hurtful things that you will soon regret.” he said.
“Counting to ten helps you to see how silly anger really is, and how hurting other people will eventually make you feel bad too.”