Name Calling, Insults and Teasing

A Guide To Anger, Conflict and Respect

The Great Sea of Conflict

Conflict is like a great sea.  At various times any region of this sea can become terribly turbulent.  When you get out on the Sea of Conflict, many of its regions look pretty much like any of its other regions and it’s not hard to get lost out there. 

Illustration by Eric Sailer

There is a region of this sea that is known as Anger.  There, storms are particularly likely to churn up, and some of them have the potential to be very dangerous.  It is for this reason that it is vitally important, whenever possible, to recognize when we begin to approach and enter into this region.  All too often, however, a sailor wanders into this region without knowing it because Anger frequently looks very much like the other regions out on the high sea.  At other times, sailors enter Anger not of their own volition.  The winds and storms of the great sea have blown even great sailors off course.  At such times, recognizing the region of Anger can be made difficult because what is visible to the sailor can look fairly calm, yet just below the waves treachery may lurk. 

Challenge is a region of the great Sea of Conflict that is very close by to Anger.  Because less experienced sailors are unaware that Challenge exists and where it lies, when they find that they are caught in an Anger storm they often succumb to the lashing of the violent waves.  Great sailors, in contrast, know about Challenge.  In fact, when caught in an Anger storm, just knowing that Challenge is just a knot or two away enables them to gather a sufficient surge of energy to carry out well practiced skills that give them a reasonable chance to reach relative safety.

With this image of the Great Sea of Conflict, please consider the following.


Ryan decides to ask his friend, Bud, for a favor.  Before he does so, he walks through in his mind what might go wrong.  He knows that if Bud turns him down this will be very frustrating and make him very angry.  Ryan also knows that when he gets that way he begins to start shouting and insulting people.  “Man, I’ve lost some close friends when I blow up like that,” he says.  “The last time I blew up Ted shouted at me that I was a bully.  I’ve never heard from him again!”

To prevent doing this again, Ryan conjures up in his mind the image of the Great Sea of Conflict.  To prepare himself to be able to steer his ship from the stormy region of Anger to the relative safety of Challenge, he rehearses five times in his mind a plan he would carry out in the event that Bud turns him down. He rehearses in the same way on two more days.   

On the day Ryan asks Bud for the favor, indeed Bud turns him down.  Ryan finds that frustration and anger is beginning to build up in the pit of his stomach and smoke is beginning to shoot out of his ears.  Nevertheless, he is able to smoothly carry out his plan which consists of the following.  First, he replies to Bud’s refusal by saying pleasantly, “Well, I appreciate that you heard me out.  Thanks.  I’m going to hurry off.  I need some time to figure out my other options.  I’ll catch you later.”  Then Ryan gives his friend a quick nod, and leaves.

Illustration by Deanna Martinez

This Ryan and Bud parable illustrates the technique of putting off any in depth discussion of how you are feeling with a friend while you are experiencing anger.  There will be plenty of time to do this later after you have some time to calm down and to consider if any further discussion is worthwhile, and if so, the best way to wisely present your case.  Because of the nature of anger, it is crucial to practice this technique if you wish to be able to carry it out during an anger arousing episode.

If you continue to follow this blog from time to time you will find that I will be encouraging you to practice some skills in various ways. This will lead you to become a master sailor on the Great Sea of Conflict.


Some people will enjoy reading this blog by beginning with the first post and then moving forward to the next more recent one; then to the next one; and so on.  This permits readers to catch up on some ideas that were presented earlier and to move through all of the ideas in a systematic fashion to develop their emotional intelligence.  To begin at the very first post you can click HERE.


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One thought on “The Great Sea of Conflict

  1. Pingback: FROM ANGER TO CHALLENGE: A STEP ONE EXAMPLE | Name Calling, Insults and Teasing

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