I don’t say much about my seven-year-old’s father because, well, I’ve been angry. Not only has that led to me not saying much about him, it’s led to me not saying much to him because I decided a while back that I simply wasn’t going to react or respond out of anger. But the thing about anger is it has to get out. It does us no good to suppress it.
I know that anger is a valid emotion and so instead of directing my anger at him (which only leads to arguments- SURPRISE!) I decided I would figure out something else to do with it.
And today I did this thing I never would have imagined doing five years ago. I shared a small piece of this part of my journey publicly. I shared because in following a call to ministry it’s not going to do much good if I don’t share the transformation parts of my own story, the signs of healing, the signs of…being human. In all honesty I wasn’t even ready to share any of this last week, but today, I was.
What does my anger from a previous relationship have to do with you? Odds are there is someone in your life that simply put “gets under your skin.” It may not be a former romantic partner for you; it may be an uncle or a cousin that you’ll be sitting at the table with over the holidays or a colleague that you wouldn’t miss if they skipped out on the next office meeting. So here are three questions that help me operate from the most grounded part of who I am when folks that hold the keys to my emotional triggers show up.
Question 1: Will the energy needed for this emotional interaction expand me, inflate me or deflate me?
Expansion will include exploring opportunities to change my mind from fear based thinking to that of love.
Inflation feels good to the ego and keeps me stuck in the same scene of the story. It moves nothing forward.
Deflation feels like I will actually lose energy by engaging in this interaction. I avoid these types of conversations as much as possible.
Question 2: What is the healthiest most grounded part of my personality that I can operate from?
This wisdom from Gary Zukav has served me soooo well! I don’t try and make huge leaps. There’s no expectation to go from shame to enlightenment. I simply reach for the highest level that I can. Moving on from the shame I felt at one time to the anger of today is why I’m happy to be angry! (See the chart below)
If my emotional level is too low and I feel the need, I still act on it I just change the direction of my action. For example, if I feel like cussing someone out it doesn't mean I have to actually call them up and cuss them out. I’ve let the filth roll out of my mouth on several occasions by myself in my kitchen. (Don’t knock it till you try it) The point is we don’t have to direct our angry words at anyone - just getting them out helps. The urge usually passes for me allowing me to reach for a higher level.
Question 3: Is my response motivated by a desire for affection, control, or security?
I ask myself this question based on what I’ve learned about the false self in action through contemplative practices. It is in this question that I usually am led to ways that I can change the direction of my thinking…because sometimes all that it takes to be happy to be angry is a new way of looking for happiness.
If you’d like to listen to the complete talk and hear more of the details that surround what I shared you can hear it here thanks to the production talent of Russell Guess and the love and space provided by Awakenings Movement.
May your days be filled with compassion, your faith remain strong, may growth be your compass and joy fill your tables.