Anger is the reactive feeling most commonly discussed in relationship therapy. It is often corrosive, disrespectful and demeaning when personalized and pervasive.
I’m not talking about an isolated outburst about a fellow worker who wronged you. I am talking about dealing with an angry person. They approach life this way and you are the focus of it. The main destructive qualities are that when directed at the partner it tells them that they are not worthy of respect, they are not intelligent enough to carry on a calm discussion and that you do not love them enough to hear them.
The result is one of three things generally happens. The person the anger is directed at either slinks away or rises up. They become sullen and quiet or they get angry and fight back. The third alternative is they leave. All three options are destructive.
Here are my thoughts and solutions on anger:
When a desire with attachment is thwarted or denied, it turns to anger. Anger arises from dissatisfaction, from not getting what we want or getting what we don’t want, from the expectation unfulfilled. We become more and more attached to our expected outcome and when it doesn’t arrive we get angry. We seek wholeness, completion, and happiness in the fulfillment of desire with attachment and are constantly in dissatisfaction. Dissatisfaction is the main form of suffering. Dissatisfaction and anger arise from feeling limited, betrayed, from not speaking up, from being pushed around, by not being seen or heard, by being passive and feeling futility. It starts as resentment. Resentment turns into frustration. Frustration turns into anger and becomes rage when not addressed.
Anger can take on many faces. Some we see as anger and some are more subtle. We think; That person rubs me the wrong way, we roll our eyes, make a sharp remark, we think he’s a thorn in my side, we have a tantrum, feel bitterness, suspicion, hatred, envy, resentment, criticism, annoyance, animosity, sullenness, gruffness, rage, grudges, and we have arguments.
However much we think we are provoked, our anger is always our own creation.
An angry person is just an empowered sad person. Anger holds great energy as opposed to depression which holds no energy, just sadness. Desire, anger, expectation and attachment can be a source of energy, strength and motivation. But what is our honest motivation, from what source is this energy arising, and in what form is it expressing itself? This energy can hold personal glory, personal gain, a tangle of pure and impure impulses, a commotion of motives and reactions. Anger’s motivation is generally dissonant and confused.
Anger and rage, when positively channeled can create great change. They become perverted when filled with judgment. It can be a powerful energy of dissatisfaction. When suppressed or resisted or expressed in negative ways, it can be extremely damaging. Dharma, that which upholds our evolution, should be our motivation, our strength, and the source of energy and motivation.
When we get angry we have 3 choices; 1) let it out, 2) suppress it 3) stop/look/feel/accept.
If we let it out, it adds to the dissonance of the world. It creates negative consequences.
If we suppress it, it’ll become dense and fester. We get an ulcer.
Getting coffee, someone cuts in line, a small irritation. We get into our car and there’s a scratch on the door from the car next to us- More irritation. We’re late for work and the old man is driving too slowly. We get really irritated. We feel the energy, the heat, the heart pounding. We suppress it, push the bad feeling away, and the rest of our day is informed by this suppressed energy. We should process this emotion, this energy in motion.
Stop- don’t act or react. The sooner we can be conscious of anger’s point of arising, of recognizing this type of energy inside us, the easier it is to watch it and allow it to wash through us without reacting. First- Catch our self in the experience- Train our self to notice initial arising. Develop neutrality. Recognize it.
Look- Gain Insight. Watch it. Be neutral and allow the energy to move through us. Witness it and don’t get lost in it. This way this energy does not get stuck. No one is harmed, including us. The more we see anger, experience it as an energy in motion, and gain insight into its initial arising, the more we can stop letting it out or suppressing it, which both create suffering. Be honest. We are creating our anger, not someone outside us. We must develop the awareness that we are not the victims of what’s happening. We are being presented with an opportunity to free ourselves from our normal state of angry reactivity. See what triggers us.
Feel- Remember it is only being created within us by us, never outside. When we become available to feel it, it will come more into balance. Anger is an active, energetic emotion. Feel its energy. Move our body, breathe deeply, journal it. Witness it and feel it but do not let it out onto others or into situations. Allow the inner eruption to happen within so we can look at it and feel it and let the energy pass through. If we can do this we will be left with strength and empowerment without negative consequences.
Allow- By feeling it and allowing it to move through us, we are not accumulating it or creating negativity. Watching it and feeling it and allowing it to pass through is freedom. When we resist something, that resistance creates suffering. Resistance holds energy in place and stops its flow. By being in acceptance, we create the circumstances for the energy of anger to move, to flow through us. If necessary, express it creatively, not onto someone.
The awareness that is created through this process of feeling and accepting helps dissipate the anger and moves it out of our system. We neither suppress the energy nor let it out on someone or something. We simply, through this 4 step process, allow the energy to pass through with awareness.
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