Anger is probably my least favorite emotion and I’m right in the middle of it today. I actually hesitated to blog anything because I’m feeling so very stabby, but I figure that’s actually one of the most authentic places from which to write—smack in the center of it.
I struggle with what to do with anger, with that part of me that wants to take some sort of action to change how I feel. Historically, I would just get madder and madder until I burst into tears and wallowed in feelings of victimhood, a whole afternoon or day ruined until I came up with a storyline to explain the situation. I then would settle into the story (in which I was always in the right), ruminating on it every so often, so as to confirm my rightness and the other person’s wrongness. I learned a few years ago to pray for the person toward whom I have anger, so I would throw that into the mix a few days later, arriving sometime in the next week at forgiveness. But always with that story in place to confirm, I AM RIGHT, YOU ARE WRONG.
But today, I’m not doing any of that. I’m sitting here just being angry and uncomfortable, trying to let the anger be my teacher. Every time my brain tries to make up a story about the anger, about how I was wronged, I steer it back to the present moment and remind myself that I don’t know the truth of this situation. I do not need to be a victim or even be right in this situation. And I do not need a story.
The person toward whom I feel this anger is not really even the issue today—it’s about retraining my brain to accept the emotions I feel and treat them with loving-kindness, to think about the object of my anger with that same love and pray for him, even if that sounds like, “Bless that son of a bitch.”
My other focus for dealing with anger today is doing the next right thing and trying to take good care of myself. I spent the workday tearing it up at my office (seriously, this was one of my most productive days in memory. I should get pissed off more often!). I’m spending this evening in self-care: exercising, seeing a good friend to talk, meditating, and going to bed early.
Treating my anger as a teacher is a very new practice for me, only a few months old, and I’m feeling how rough the ride is as I sit here. But I trust that the process is a solid one and that I will come through this with new lessons for living and more awareness about anger, which, though still my least favorite emotion, may become my most instructive.