“When another person makes you suffer, it is because he suffers deeply within himself, and his suffering is spilling over. He does not need punishment; he needs help. That’s the message he is sending.”

Thich Nhat Hanh

angerIf we take the metaphor that True Nature is a starry sky on a clear night and the ego and control patterns are the clouds that obscure our clear views; often joined by emotions they foster – anger, jealousy, fear and anxiety. Yet if we understand that our True Nature, like stars, is constant and unchanging, we can understand that the clouds that sometimes obscure them are temporary. The clouds can bring storms, even violent and turbulent tempests, but we know clouds pass, and our storms of emotions can pass too.

Anger is a good example of one of these emotions that can erode our peace temporarily. In most cases, anger is met with anger. When someone angers you, your first response is usually to mentally, verbally and or physically strike back as a way of protecting yourself from this combative situation. Once the ego is involved, there is a social pressure to return someone’s anger with a measured response. Whether we yell or plot revenge, there is no proactive solution when we act in pure anger. Anger is a useless emotion that only muddles and confuses the mind. When you are boiled over in anger, constructive thought is absent. Anger can also intensify and even consume your peace and tranquility. It can close you off from situations entirely. Anger can create the darkest clouds that obscure the True Nature of your mind. Ironically, when your mind is full of anger, it is you, not your target, who suffers most.

Daily Life Practice:

Be mindful and start to analyze your reactions to events during your day, especially social situations where some degree of conflict is present. What makes you happy? What makes you angry or frustrated? What makes you feel numb or neutral? You can even ask these questions as you contemplate past experiences. The objective in gaining more wisdom and control over your emotional reactions is to judge all reactions, the good, the bad, and the neutral, equally. Work on creating a space between the experience and your emotional reaction, so that in that space you can become aware of your feelings and the feelings of others involved. This space gives you time to react sensitively instead of blindly.

For example, if you hate someone or something that has happened, try to imagine that the feeling of anger or hatred is not coming from the other person or the situation. It is rising from within you. Ask yourself: why should someone or something be able to make you this angry? Why give up your mental freedom from anger and suffering to someone you dislike? In a situation of conflict, your rival is most likely trying to control you. He or she is trying to make you feel or think a certain way. If you react blindly in anger or rage, you are giving your rival the power to control you.

What about our frustrations with, for example, inanimate objects? Perhaps your car stalled again. Maybe the remote control is not working properly? You just spilled red wine on the carpet. It is ironic how angry and frustrated we can get from elements in life that we have really no control over. Accidents happen, and as the old phrase goes – shit happens… Be aware of the anger and frustration that arises during situations of stress and annoyance. Where is this energy coming from? …an outside source? … not really… the negative energy is coming from you! How you react to situations of conflict, whether social or nonsocial is completely up to you.

Instead of living by blind emotions and reactions that cloud your True Nature, try to weigh how your reactions to negative people or situations are really just connected to your own ego and self-esteem. Instead of projecting outwards when you feel anger or fear, shift the focus inwards toward what you are feeling in your own body and mind. Rest in this space before you react. Ask yourself if the actions you are considering will really benefit you. Chances are if your intentions are to hurt someone or throw the remote control across the room, you will most likely end up hurting yourself as well in the process. Further, clinging to internal anger or frustration will only erode your peace. Make space for conflict and challenges and be mindful of your emotions throughout the day.

John C. Bader

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