What if the “dark night of the soul” is more than one night?
What if anger is an addiction – much like alcohol or drugs?
What if it has Nothing to do with the person you’re mad at?
Recently I found myself very angry. Someone had mistreated me in a moment of their own anger and I found myself observing this fascinating process.
It went something like this:
First, was to react. Now I know better than to lash out in anger (I used to do that – instant reaction), this time it took a while to settle in. I felt it first in my body. Although I had been calm during the conflict, I felt the need for action – movement. Jump in the car, get out of the situation. Go.
Then, a pang/knotting up in my low belly (second chakra), like a twinge. This feeling stayed with me “in my gut” for several hours. Then, I felt the waves of emotion: sadness, heartbreak – in my chest. Anger – furrowed brow.
Then the mental body caught up:
What should I do?
How should I respond?
What will I do next?
And down the rabbit hole it went.
Julia Cameron, author of The Artist’s Way, talks about picking up that first thought of self doubt as if it were your first drink and you are a recovering addict. She says “don’t take the first ‘think'”.
Even while this brilliant analogy actually occurred to me, I took it anyways.
I DIDN’T FEEL LIKE I HAD A CHOICE!
I’ve Got to get angry. How could I not? If I don’t, this person will walk all over me, they will think ‘its ok’ to treat me this way.
So when I finally spoke to this person, do you think it was with love? Far From It.
I had decided the only way I could be Heard, the Only way I could express that this behavior was “Not Ok” was through anger and a loud voice.
Who does this belong to? Where did I learn this way of responding? Surely I wasn’t born into the world knowing to use anger as a strategy to be heard..
I continued to observe my own experience – to stay with it, to experience compassion for my own Experience in every moment.
Occasionally, dipping back into an old familiar world of “what’s wrong with me?” “How can I be committed to a spiritual path and still be so angry right now?” – Fortunately, I know better than to beat myself up with thoughts like these. They can no longer get too far before I recognize their lie, their shape, their texture and I can let them go.
That is one health commitment I have learned to make through years of causing myself unneeded pain and distress. Through many many hours of coaching beautiful people who hurt themselves with self blame.
So what did I do? How to shift this? Over the course of 24 hours, I took a spontaneous trip to the pool with a new friend. I didn’t feel the need to talk about my situation – I was still processing internally: observing with curiosity my own reaction.
I also saw a movie, got a pedicure and had a writing session at a coffee shop. I take this shit seriously! lol
Coming out of it now, I definitely feel like I’ve been on a binger for a couple days. Not of alcohol, drugs etc. but of emotional habits (also known as samskaras in yoga).
(I’m actually participating in a 6 day detox right now so I’m probably feeling all of my emotions with greater intensity. I’m putting these “habits of reaction on my list of what I’m detoxing/releasing right now! By the way, I was also constipated during these 2 days and had very low energy – coincidence?)
I took that first “emotional” drink. Do I blame myself for it? Hell. No. Its part of my human experience. Am I wiser for it? Can I now turn around and share with you about it – inviting you to glimpse my struggle and learn from it. Hell to the yeah. And that feels awesome.
I’m out of the woods now but I may drink again. Thats why folks in recovery are So Vigilant about temptation – protecting themselves from people and situations that would prove difficult to hold integrity with. We are asked to hold that same intesity of vigilance, awareness and observation of our own minds.
We are warriors of our own minds – our own experience.
I have so much gratitude for these lessons, so much peace. What if anger is an incredible opportunity to:
- Show compassion to ourselves…No Matter What!!
- Show us where we’re stuck – what our patterns are so they can be released.
- Give us a full range of emotional depth, breadth, experience
Now, I am not going to walk around “choosing” anger necessarily! There are plenty of other gorgeous emotions that I would enjoy spending my time with. But when it shows up, let it be your teacher! Let it bring all of its gifts.
A teacher (I think it was Pema Chodron) said, we should treat these more difficult emotions like an honored guest – when they enter our house we appreciate them, invite them to sit, be comfortable and bless them when they leave.
May we all be so gracious!
Love, love, love. Namaste and Thankfulness to all my Teachers both sweet…and Pesky As Hell. : )