Essential reading for angry people
My old teacher used to tell me: Truth spoken with anger is a lie. It is a hard wisdom, when you really live it. Because it implies you always need to cool it before you express yourself. Not always easy.
So anyway, recently I was angry at someone again. Now I’ll spare you the details. But I’ll have you know that I know the feeling better than the inside of my pocket. And what I have discovered is this: when I am angry, I am also right. Being right belongs to anger like catholicism to the pope.
When we are in it, we often wallow in it. Just turning around and around in our own angry soup without there ever seeming to come an end to it. We do not understand or even recognize the structure of our anger when we are caught by it.
I have been starting to wonder why this is. And I believe one core reason has to do with responsibility, or rather: with a subconscious strategy to avoid it.
When we are angry, we are projecting that the other person is in the wrong. Therefore, we must be right. So we not only have a reason to get angry, but we have a vested interest in staying angry. For as long as we can stay angry at the other person we do not need to take responsibility for the matter at hand. This is especially true for people with whom you are trying to co-create, like colleagues. It is a simple and deceptive mind game. And I am tired of it. And recently, when I expressed my frustration about the person that I was angry with to a friend, she simply said:
“You don’t have to be angry. I have seen you be compassionate before. You have no reason not to be compassionate now.”
That was it. That was all I needed. From one moment to the next I realized the truth of what she said and could no longer feel anger for that person, but instead felt only love.
That sounds almost flippant, I know. But I also realized through it how incredibly insubstantial anger really is. And when you practice, and I have had a lot of practice, anger can be lifted from you in a microsecond. When we are in it, it can seem so thick we can cut it like a knife. But when we are able to realize our own game we are playing through being angry, we can suddenly laugh about ourselves again. And once we can do that, everything becomes light and workable once more.
So, anger can make us stuck. And when you are angry it not an indication that something is amiss with the world. It is an indication that something is amiss with YOU. It is not that you do not have a right to your feelings. It is that you are betraying yourself when you are telling yourself you have right to be angry. You are suddenly two years old again and you are missing something that you feel you really really need but no one can give you. The only one that suffers from that, is you. And in ways that you cannot even begin to imagine…
So, if you are angry all the time, you must first understand that situation: That this is your anger and has no reality or validity to it, even if, and you always do, believe it does.
And second: You must learn to forgive. Forgive others, forgive yourself, forgive the unforgivable. How do you do that? It is quite simple to get started.
Go see this movie called The Light Between Oceans (It is a bit of a romantic girlie movie, and if like me you have a limited tolerance for such things, just focus on the pretty landscapes or actresses or both until the story gets moving)
See the movie, start there, then come back and tell us what you have learned. And remember what I said next time you are angry: You do not have a right to be angry. You must turn within and examine what you are getting out of it.
And: Enjoy that. For the best thing in life is the journey of our learning from it.