As a young man, I was frequently encouraged to be the "bigger person" and apologize for my transgressions. This notion wasn't about physical size but a metaphorical nod to my potential power. It took me years to understand this potent equation: thought + emotion = feelings. And within this concept lies the key to understanding and controlling our emotional triggers.
Consider this situation: you're cut off on the highway. The immediate reaction of most is to honk the horn, yell, and make crude gestures. These reactions are predicated on assumptions – that the person cut you off intentionally and that your aggressive response will induce the same emotional reaction in them. But what if their actions were due to an emergency, or they were preoccupied with personal issues, or they just didn't see you? Where does your responsibility lie in all this?
The first step is accepting 100% responsibility for our own actions and reactions. We react in anger because we allow an emotion to time stamp our thoughts, leading to particular feelings. We can't truly know what the other person was thinking in that moment. Thus, we must account for our responses. We need to be more in tune with our feelings to manage ourselves better.
We have become so preoccupied with the feelings of others that we neglect our own. Many react with shock when I suggest being "selfish", but not putting yourself first can lead to a violent rejection of your own needs. Selflessness does not always deserve a badge of honor unless it involves saving another's life while risking your own.
Often, we behave in a way that we believe will please others, not because it aligns with our genuine feelings. You may accommodate me at 2 in the morning despite your discomfort, hoping that your compliance will make me value you. However, this is not a healthy negotiation. Your tears may stem from your hurt feelings, but they could also be because you disregarded your own needs.
Here's a metaphor to consider: a $100 electricity bill might seem substantial if you only have $10. But if you have $1000, that bill feels less significant. The same applies to problems. If you're 'bigger' than the problem, it feels light. By apologizing or expressing regret, I lift that emotional weight, showing my control over the emotional trigger. Waiting for an apology essentially means waiting to be controlled. If you truly value yourself, you should be willing to lift that weight yourself.