Springs of Joy: Keeping my lid on PDF Print E-mail
Friday, 19 August 2011 13:58

BY Jane dela Cruz Bascar

Among the things I still haven’t truly mastered is managing my anger. While I consider myself a relatively peaceful person, certain situations and people still get my goat, push my buttons and trigger my anger.  My predictable reaction is usually to just bottle up my negative emotions because I’m unsure how best to react.  A part of me tells me that biting my tongue despite turning beet-red from holding on tightly to such high-voltage emotion is the mature way of handling it. The more honest part of me, however, insists there must be a better way than this. Author Mike Dooley shares these thoughts on anger which left me pondering:

“Anger is similar to depression in that it results from a perceived loss of power or control felt over a period of time. Yet instead of, or in addition to, being overcome by a passive sense of depression, and instead of constructively dealing with these perceptions as they arise, the situation is allowed to simmer until it is ultimately attacked with rage. Of course, since you’re the one going into a rage, you’re the one who will suffer its consequences in the form of disturbing your own health, increasing the friction or stress in your relationships, and providing no solution to the original disturbance. The sad irony with anger is that it’s always expressed in an attempt to correct or rectify a situation, yet its expression does the exact opposite.

Anger worsens any situation for you, whomever you’re angry with, and the relationship between you. And because anger is destructive, it’s especially important that it be addressed, not suppressed. Suppressed anger will only reappear, amplified each time it does due to its prior suppression. Alternatively, by feeling your way through your anger, you can begin to understand it. If it’s another person you’re angry with and avoiding her isn’t an option, then perhaps begin by understanding that this person is simply doing her own best, however poor you might judge her best to be It’s just where that person is in her own spiritual revolution.”

That last line had stopped me on my tracks. I remember that spiritual teacher Maya Angelou said something similar, “If you know better, you do better.” Following that line of thinking, someone who lashes at you or upsets you therefore is probably unconscious otherwise she wouldn’t have done what she did. Truly, I get that. Still I must confess I am not completely comforted by the thought nor does it smooth my ruffled feathers. The other thing is how then do you shake her awake though? And what do you do in the face of such harsh unconsciousness?

Dooley continues, “Realize that you are the source of your anger, not someone else or the events of your life. They just are what they are until you come along and pass judgment based on your beliefs; that’s when emotions are ignited. Without you in the picture, there wouldn’t be any anger – at least not your anger. And while you may feel justified with how you feel, how much good will that do you if you are still left with the anger? Instead, work with your thoughts, beliefs, and perceptions to avoid its expression and, just as importantly, its suppression.”

Well, I’m not quite sure I get everything Dooley says, but I know it provokes deep reflection and urges me to give my thoughts on anger another look. Perhaps I should pay special and closer attention to the triggers of this “unwanted emotion” – the events, situations, persons that let me fly off the handle or blow my top. Maybe if I examine them closely, I’d find some common thread running through them that speak of things within me which need fixing, clearing up, and coming to terms with. When I do, then perhaps, I’d find a better way of keeping my lid on than staying quiet and sitting like a keg that’s just waiting to explode at the slightest touch or when my boiling point has finally been reached.  

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