Archive for the ‘Anger’ Category
“I have a right to express my anger,” he says. “But you are hurting me with your words and rage,” she responds. Who is right and who s wrong?
Both are right. However, what we are talking about is a much bigger question that is – what is the ethical way to express feelings of anger? No one should force feelings into denial, because they will come up again, often at inappropriate times, and create more separation between you and those you love. You lose energy, closeness and connection when you begin to hold any of your feelings down by not accepting them and expressing them fully. Your ability to stay healthy, both physically and mentally, and your ability to keep your relationship healthy, depends upon your ability to allow feelings to release through you freely so that they do not create dis-ease. However, the exercise of free will, or free release of feelings, also comes with an element of responsibility. That is, you cannot dump what you are holding inside in a way that feels abusive to another. I get to dump, all I want in fact, but I don’t get to dump on or at you!
I once had a roommate whose father was verbally and emotionally abusive. I had no idea how badly she had been hurt by him until we went to a weekend seminar together. We were about to leave the parking garage when the attendant stopped us, insisting he be paid. We had been informed parking was pre-paid so I began to launch into my fathers arrogance and give the attendant a piece of my mind. By the time I was finished, my friend was curled up in the seat and had flattened herself against the passenger door looking caught – like a deer in headlights! I immediately got that something was very wrong and for the next hour, we discussed what had happened to her as a child and how my outburst had affected her.
Apparently, when she was a child, her father would create a disturbance every place they went by berating the service people, demanding special attention, criticizing the food or service and in general humiliating my friend tremendously. She really got in touch with how terrifying that had been for her. My father was similar. He too raged about everything, and I had the opportunity to clearly see how his rage was still very much a part of how I dealt with my own perceived inequities and injustices in life. She internalized her father’s rage and made a decision to never take exception to anything. I internalized my father’s rage and was unfortunately able to see I still dealt with some issues, just as he did.
We made an agreement. Whenever I felt I just had to take a stand about an issue, I would let her know in advance and she could exercise the option of leaving the space and making herself safe. By keeping her in mind, I also gave myself the opportunity to slow down and ask myself if the injustice I was experiencing was first of all real, justified, worth making a scene over. In addition, slowing down gave me the time to ask myself if I was complaining to the right person. Very often a letter to management is much more effective than being upset at an attendant who has little or no control. Encountering this issue in my life helped me to heal the ways in which I vented misplaced anger.
In order to avoid making your partners, family or friends feel abused as we release strong feelings; we have to take responsibility for first discharging or dumping the intense energy behind those feelings in a safe way. After we release some of the intensity, we can then talk about the problem or the feelings together in a non-abusive manner. Much of that initial work should probably be done alone, or if it does not feel safe to be alone, with a therapist or a person who has good boundaries, and who does not come from an abusive environment. It is not OK to overpower anyone else with your feelings. If you do that, then you are perpetuating abuse.
Very often feelings, such as rage, just get triggered. In that instant, you may find that you do not have the control you would want to have and are unable to stop the response, or limit the expression. That’s why I recommend safe rooms in which one can yell, hit pillows, tear up phone books, scream, rant and rave – all of which are perfectly acceptable and healthy. Agreements must be kept that neither person will yell at, use abusive language to or about the other. Most of the time, the intense feelings that are triggered in the moment are really about the past and need to be released safely before it is possible to deal effectively with what is going on in the present situation anyway.
If you who are still into your sense of entitlement, you may be yelling now, “I should get to have my feelings exactly as they are and not have to limit myself.” That’s an interesting perception. Could it come from having been abused as a child by someone who felt exactly that same way? Did someone vent their feelings directly at you and is that the role model and scenario you are now repeating! It won’t work to your benefit and you’ll only end up wishing you had done it better, and in a more respectful way when the venting is over. One of the ways we diminish our own self-esteem is by continuing to behave in a manner that makes us feel disappointed in ourselves. The bottom line is that you both have a right to vent. And, you both have a right to feel safe and not have intense hostile feelings directed at you. With a little simple negotiation about safety and a willingness to learn on both your parts, you can have your cake and eat it too.
© Dr. Dina Bachelor Evan 2013
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“I have been stuck in this old resentment for months. When am I going to be over this?” – a perplexing and painful question that I often hear from clients.
The first step is to make sure you are not beating yourself up for having old resentments! From a Zen perspective, if the issue continues to be an issue, or continues to arise, there is some part of it that still needs attention or is not yet resolved. Simply slow down, without any judgment on yourself or anyone else, try to see what part of this old issue is still attempting to get your attention.
A great deal of resentment comes from judgment. When you choose to judge someone else, you need to understand that your judgment about that person does not constitute a truth. If you choose to judge someone and access them as being selfish, for instance, – your judgment does not prove or define that person as a selfish person. In fact, it doesn’t change who they are a wit. However, your judgment does prove one thing, and that is you have the capacity to be a judgmental person. So step one is to get out of the illusion that your judgment is somehow hurting or getting back at the other person. It’s really only hurting you.
A person who is unable to forgive may have a sense of entitlement – a belief that you have the right to what you want or need regardless of who the other person is or what others want or need. You may have the belief that your partner, friend or family member should give up himself or herself to be who you need them to be. This however requires a perception that you are somehow fundamentally superior.
Holding back forgiveness can also be because one feels fundamentally inferior and refuses to forgive in order to maintain power. It’s about a power struggle. Beneath that arrogance and entitlement is really the terror of ridicule, rejection or abandonment. There is arrogance/control on our part for seeking forgiveness from someone who we know is not yet awake enough to give it. Chances are, you are not apt to get forgiveness from an unconscious person.
Another possibility about a lack of forgiveness or holding on to resentments is an unwillingness to own your own part in the issue. As long as we continue to project blame and shame on to another, we are in the illusion that there is something to forgive! Who is it that elected to dance with this person, stay in it with him or her, be co-opted into bad behavior or give our self up? This is about believing we have no personal responsibility or culpability. The lack of forgiveness oozes out in the form of anger, resentment, fear, sniping, being critical and blaming.
The good news is that for conscious or awake people there is great joy in taking personal responsibility because that = growth and aliveness. We get the lesson. People who are not conscious are more invested in being right, being in control or being in a position of authority and they may perceive taking personal responsibility as weakness.
Actually, the opposite is true. The “V” word, vulnerability, indicates a place of great power, teachability, openness to all things, willingness to change, = empowered.
Just remember that the pursuit of power without reverence or respect for the other person’s reality or pain is arrogance. Perhaps that person needs that experience on his or her path in order to bump to the next level. How many of you would be willing to give up all your lessons in life that have resulted in you being who you are today?
Courage is the essential core element of character. If you cannot own your mistakes – you cannot grow, You can’t have real relationship! In addition, you will never be impeccable in your integrity or able to stand in the power of your spirit. When you are unwilling to admit your mistakes, you are standing in your own ego, needing to be right. Einstein says, “Mistakes are simply the product of a courageous soul and an inquiring mind.”
You cannot control life or the people in it. You can ONLY have control over YOUR RESPONSE to what rises before you in life and what the people in your life do. Life happens – people are people and they make mistakes that grieve your spirit, and even more so their own. You will never stop that process. What you do with it – how you respond defines your level of awareness and your character. People will disappoint you – life may disappoint you – your job is to not disappoint your own self.
A lack of forgiveness may also be that we have not had the courage or the support to resolve the pain that we are still holding inside over the issue. When you are unwilling to resolve the pain and heal it – you stand in judgment or hold the other person responsible for that pain as a way of distancing from your hurt feelings. “Well she really hurt me”, is vastly different from “I really hurt myself by wanting something from her that she was not willing or able to give me.” Or, “I set myself up for hurt by emotionally leaving the relationship first.” Or,” I knew clearly who this person was and I chose to dance with him or her anyway.”
The final piece in our unwillingness to move into forgiveness is a lack of faith in ourselves or a fear about not being able to create what we really want. Rather than to go out and get our needs met or create what we say we want, it is easier to blame others for not giving it to us. It keeps us from going forward.
No one is responsible for your happiness, the quality of your life or the amount of love in it – except you! If your life is not what you want it to be, ask yourself “Why am I not giving myself what I need and want?” Why am I staying at a job that is not right? Why am I staying in a relationship with a substance abuser or any perpetrator? Why am I willing to be with someone who refuses to connect deeply with me? Most of the time the answer to that is FEAR!
Forgiveness does not mean you are condoning bad behavior. Forgiveness does not mean that you believe what the other person did was right. In fact, you may even have to leave that person or choose not to dance with him or her. However, you do so with unconditional love and positive regard for the painful lessons that person is experiencing on his or her path. We are all going to end up with the same level of awareness. Some of us are just taking detours.
Forgiveness means that you are healing the emotions inside of yourself that are not in alignment with your own spirit. Forgiveness means that you are able to see that the other person is a human being learning incredibly hard lessons about how to be spirit.
One last thing. Many of you may have someone you need to get to peace with that is not available to talk to you – because they have died or are no longer willing. Do a ritual, write a letter and burn it in your backyard, give yourself release and relief. After all, forgiveness is more about you than anyone else anyway.
© Dr. Dina Bachelor Evan 2013