What do Falcon’s teach us about why we get so angry at our loved ones? Have you seen Arab falcon trainers cover their Falcons with full black hoods? The falcon cannot see anything. Parents and children who see this might feel afraid for the Falcon. Why? Because they think, if someone put a black hood over “my” head, I would freak out!
But see, Falcon’s don’t have imagination. They can’t turn darkness (something small) into a catastrophe and ‘freak out’ because they don’t have overactive imaginations like us humans. For Falcons, when the hood goes on, they just calm down.
When it comes to trying to understand why we make each other so angry, one thought to tell yourself is this: My mind is always lying to me.
What do I mean by that? Quick science lesson: there is so much information that we are accosted with hour after hour, that if we were to process all of it, accurately and thoroughly, we would go crazy! So to maintain sanity, our mind deletes and distorts. That is helpful most of the time, but it also causes problems for us when we think we have all the information.
You are not Allah: you are not Al-Baseer — the All-Seeing. And you are not Al-Aleem — the All-Knowing.
You and I are just human beings. We can’t see everything or know everything. Even though we think we do, we don’t.
Remind yourself of the following mind tricks next time you start to get angry (or someone gets angry at you):
1. The Mind pays attention only when something is ‘wrong’
The mind tries to be efficient by not bothering you when good things are happening (which is all the time). For example, if the temperature surrounding you right now is pleasant, why would your mind bring that to your attention? Your mind would interrupt you regarding your temperature right now if it got very cold or excessively hot. Your safety might be in danger. Otherwise, your mind thinks, keep calm and carry on.
To counteract the only focus when something’s wrong default brain setting, train your mind to frequently focus on your blessings, that’s right, as a form of Shukr (gratitude to Allah). Be thankful, more often, every day.
[Application] How focusing on only ‘what’s wrong’ might trigger inaccurate anger:
If your spouse has done 100 good things for you, your mind doesn’t see it, it only pays attention when something is wrong; when something is ‘negative.’ So when that times comes when something is ‘off’, remind yourself you’re only noticing this because the mind doesn’t see the positives, it only awakens you to the negatives. And recite the verse of Allah:
..And live with them in kindness. For if you dislike them – perhaps you dislike a thing and Allah makes therein much good. [Quran 4:19]
2. Making stories to fill in the blanks
The mind does not like empty spaces; it just makes up stories to fill in the information.
Consider the many times you haven’t received a phone call from someone, even though you were expecting it. So the mind fills in the blank: Your friend didn’t call you because, as you tell yourself, she must be mad at you.
But consider more options. Maybe your friend didn’t call because she fell asleep or maybe she didn’t call because her battery died or maybe she didn’t call because she didn’t know you were expecting a return call.
Be very wary of the stories that your mind dreams up to fill in the blanks.
[Application] How imagination might trigger anger:
You can’t shut off your imagination, so rather than only focusing on the ONE situation where someone’s intentions were bad towards you, focus on five other potential scenarios where the intentions of that someone were agreeable.
Want to learn more ways that the brain changes and distorts what’s really going on? Comment below and let us know.