July 13th, 2011 by A.G.J.
What to do when you are angry with those you love most?
This question was asked of me recently. Here’s how I answer:
It may sound like a subtle difference, but it’s huge. When we believe a loved one is the result of our anger, we need them to change. When we’re aware it’s our thoughts, we can question those thoughts and allow change. The work of Byron Katie is the simplest, deepest, most incisive tool I’ve encountered for not only dealing with anger, but returning (again and again) to the peace within. (For more information about this work, go to: thework.com )
A disciple was once told by his guru, when you are angry don’t see the other person, see your anger. We all have justified reasons for being angry. Our rage feels realistic, obvious even, given the situation, but what I sit with more and more is how I truly feel when I am angry – noticing the tension in my jaw/shoulders/neck, observing the shake in my hands and voice, experiencing the shallowness of my breath and how the flow of energy in my being is blocked. Even my teeth hurt. Then I ask is this who I really am? Who else could I be? Do I have a choice?
Michael Douglas was on Oprah this past year. She asked him about the anger he used to use to fuel his characters and if he still did. No, he explained, Anger is a false sense of energy. He’s so right. Anger can seduce us into feeling alive, empowered, but the deeper truth is it takes us out of our true nature (love). Unleashing anger hurts others and ourselves. We believe we don’t have a choice, but it’s the belief in our anger not our loved one’s behavior that creates the inevitable torrent. As Byron Katie explains, when I believe the thought “I am angry”, it has be acted out. I believe it. It’s my religion, the altar where I pray.
Another wonderful teacher, Marianne Williamson, explains that in those times of anger, as we become aware of the change inside us, we can always ask for help. So now I will literally pray to God to take the anger from me. I surrender everything to him/her/the universe, placing myself upon the altar so that I may be altered. (Those words taught to me by Marianne Williamson.)
Bottom line: Getting mad happens, but awareness and the willingness to take responsibility for the anger, not to blame others, returns us to the love that we are. It keeps our hearts open to forgiveness and understanding. It allows us to grow. In short, stopping the madness really can restore our sanity. That’s something to be glad about. Thank you, friend, for asking.